A $5.6 million gift from the Unocal Corporation to the College of Science and Mathematic's Environmental Biotechnology Institute (EBI) at Cal Poly was announced today.
This donation is one of the most significant cash gifts in the university's history. It enhances the public-private partnership fostered by Unocal and Cal Poly through the EBI, a collaborative research project aimed at developing "environmentally sensitive" technology to aid petroleum companies in restoring contaminated sites.
Unocal helped launch the EBI in late 1996 with a $1.3 million grant.
The $5.6 million donation is earmarked for a number of specific EBI programs and projects. A capital project to construct facilities for the EBI within the university's anticipated new science and mathematics building will receive $2 million.
Another portion of the gift, $1 million, will endow the Unocal Chair for Environmental Studies. This is the second such endowment established at the university, with both chairs endowed in the College of Science and Mathematics.
Renowned scientist Raul Cano, a Cal Poly microbiology professor, will occupy the chair. Cano, a pioneer in the study of ancient bacteria and a specialist in paleobiology and molecular evolution, heads research at the EBI. He directs a team of eight faculty members and more than 30 students conducting research at Unocal's Guadalupe oil field, exploring ways to improve a technology known as bioremediation. Both Cano's research and his teaching method that involves the active participation of undergraduate students in the research effort have received international acclaim.
The Unocal gift identifies $1.1 million in funds that could be used for another endowed chair or other discretionary uses consistent with the overall Unocal gift. Additionally, Unocal will renew its grant for services with EBI totaling $1.5 million over three years to fund continued research at the Guadalupe oil field.
"Unocal is tremendously proud of our association with Cal Poly's EBI," said Mark Smith, vice president for real estate, remediation services and mining operations for Unocal. "Our company has a long-standing commitment to education, and our work with Dr. Cano and the EBI over the last few years has produced exciting results. With our new partnership, we can help fund continued research efforts that will benefit environmental restoration worldwide as well as educate the next generation of scientists."
Cal Poly President Warren J. Baker said, "We are very grateful to Unocal for its support of the Environmental Biotechnology Institute." Baker emphasized that "EBI is an extraordinary example of the kind of partnership between the university, industry and community needed to apply the power of science to pressing social, economic and environmental issues."
Commenting on Raul Cano's selection to occupy the Unocal Chair for Environmental Studies, Baker observed that "Dr. Cano is recognized internationally for his accomplishments in research and in teaching -- and for combining the two in creative and exciting ways. We look forward to continued great contributions to research and teaching from both Dr. Cano and EBI."
Unocal Corporation, an international energy research and development company, has had operations on the Central Coast of California for over a century.
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