Unite over light-rail threat to research

The University is concerned about more than disrupted lab equipment.

by Kristi Kremers

I was extremely disappointed by last weekâÄôs editorial âÄúLight rail, heavy words.âÄù As students, faculty and members of the University of Minnesota community, we need to band together to protect one of our greatest assets: our research infrastructure. The Washington Avenue research corridor is at the heart of our mission and our service to the public. The University brings in $675 million in federal research, much of which takes place in the 17 buildings and more than 80 labs in this area. It is also the hub of research for 160 private sector companies that utilize our research facilities. Research on cancer, AIDS, diabetes and countless other critical issues could be compromised not only by equipment failures due to vibration and electromagnetic interference, but also by taking our reputation off-track. For example, our Nuclear Magnetic Resonance facility, which is a mere 80 feet from the proposed light rail, creates $110 million in grant funding. This supports 160 researchers spanning 22 University departments. In addition, the funding helps support undergraduate and graduate instruction. Would the National Science Foundation or other funding agencies want to gamble on multimillion dollar research grants with facilities that may be damaged? For the good of our community and the public, we must work together to resolve an issue that will literally impact the well-being of countless Minnesotans by protecting our research, the jobs they create and the lives that are saved through our innovation. The public has invested in our high-quality research facilities for decades. Reducing the issue to merely one of âÄúdisrupted lab equipmentâÄù is a grave injustice to The Minnesota DailyâÄôs readership, the publicand our shared cause. Kristi Kremers Professional Student Assembly president