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$8M funding to launch biodiversity research centre


Vancouver, BC – A Vancouver couple who are University of British Columbia alumni have donated $8 million toward a biodiversity research centre at the university that will include a museum of natural history.

Ross Beaty, a 53-year-old geologist and mining entrepreneur, is chairman of Pan American Silver, one of the world’s leading primary silver producers. At UBC he earned a bachelor of science honours degree in 1974 and a law degree in 1979. His wife, Trisha, is a local physician who majored in zoology and obtained a medical degree from UBC in 1979.

"The Beatys’ very generous gift will strengthen UBC’s research excellence in the area of biodiversity and enable the whole community to share this couple’s enthusiastic appreciation and deep concern for the natural world," says Martha Piper, UBC president. "Research at the new centre will be reflected in museum exhibits and educational programs designed to help people make informed decisions about the environmental challenges that confront us."

The Beaty Biodiversity Research Centre, a $50-million project that will include the Beaty Museum of Natural History, will house more than 30 UBC scientists in disciplines ranging from genomics to oceanography.

The five-storey 12,600 sq-metre centre is expected to open in November 2007. The museum will be the only natural history museum in Canada to be integrated with a major research centre.

"This new facility will enable researchers to perform their cutting-edge work right here in British Columbia, and is an impressive example of the type of partnerships that are essential to ensure Canada’s success in the knowledge-based economy,” says Dr Eliot Phillipson, president and CEO of the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), which provided major funding for the centre.

The museum will showcase a collection that includes more than 17,000 mammal specimens as well as Western Canada’s largest collection of insects – more than 600,000 specimens. UBC also has the second largest fish collection in Canada with more than 800,000 specimens. In addition, plant, moss, algae, seaweed and fungus collections will be featured. Specimens are currently housed in a variety of locations that are outdated and virtually inaccessible to the public.