The University of The Bahamas (UB) recently opened its first, state-of-the-art science research facility, the G.T.R. Campbell Small Island Sustainability Research Complex, which, represents a significant move towards sustainability and the fulfilment of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.
The multi-million-dollar facility is the result of a gift to the University from the Freedom Foundation, and is named in honour of shipping magnate and naval architect the late George T. R. Campbell whose family was present to witness the milestone. Mr. Campbell founded Dockendale Shipping in Nassau, an operation now headed by H.E. Lowell Mortimer.
A LEED-certified complex with modern laboratories to support a wide-range of environmental monitoring and chemical analysis methods and techniques of the air, land and sea, the research centre is also dedicated to meeting national priorities in agricultural production as well as food safety and security.
H.E. Lowell Mortimer, one of the visionaries behind the newly constructed facility, has remained committed to the institution over the years. Given the intricacies of the design and construction of this building, it was years in the making.
“Around 2008, starting with Dr. Keva Bethel, followed by Janyne Hodder, a presentation was made to me for a sustainability centre and here we are today with the G.T.R. Campbell Small Island Sustainability Research Complex”, he shared.
He was pleased to see Mr. Campbell’s dream become a reality. “I hope that through this centre, it will help fulfil one of the visions of George Campbell in helping The Bahamas to feed itself, just as in Canada, he helped Canadians to feed themselves.”
UB President, Dr. Rodney D. Smith touted the collaboration that will exist as a result of this new paradigm. “Small Island Sustainability is a signature programme at UB with various degree options that will provide students the opportunity to interact with each other and create inter-disciplinary synergies for dynamic research,” he explained.
The building comprises three classrooms and a geographic information systems (GIS) teaching lab; 6 research labs, including 1 aseptic tissue culture lab (a sterile lab); 11 staff and research offices, and office spaces for visiting researchers, graduate students and laboratory technicians. Additionally, there are six active research laboratories which will focus, specifically, on Plant Tissue and Bio-technology, Geospatial Visualization and Informatics, Food and Natural Products Innovation, Plant, Soil, and Water Sciences, Applied Laser and Optical Science Research and Chemical and Environmental Analysis.
Minister of the Environment and Housing, Romauld Ferreira, a UB alumnus, underscored the importance of this new complex and the role it will play in the future growth and development of the country. He commended the university for being at the forefront of sustainability practices in the country.
“As we open the door to the GTR Campbell Small Island Sustainability Research Complex, we are opening the doors to the solutions to our nation’s burgeoning problems. We are equipping this generation and those to come, with the tools to address climate change and to create the future they want and deserve,” he said.
He also acknowledged Campbell’s legacy. “The Small Island Sustainability Research Complex will set the bar for environmental studies and research throughout The Bahamas while paying respect to a man with an honourable history as a naval architect and prominent global leader within the shipping industry.”
Naomi Campbell, daughter of the late George Campbell, reminisced about her father and spoke fondly of him “My father was in inventor. He was a thinker. He was curious. There is nothing he was not curious about…his mind never stopped working.”
Campbell also reflected on the significance of the complex and what it represents to The Bahamas and globally.
“Sustainability is the word going forward that will lead us into the future. The new generation of students that will graduate from this university will leave their imprint for following generations. We are initiating a process that is spawning itself across the world right now and throughout universities and it is a wonderful thing to be part of,” she said.
The GTR Campbell Small Island Sustainability Research Complex will further position the institution to attract and retain world-class faculty; enliven the University system and bring together students, experts and facilities to revolutionize teaching, research and studies in small island sustainability.