Congressman David Price joined Chancellor Randy Woodson and officials from the U.S. Department of the Interior at Wednesday’s grand opening of the Southeast Climate Science Center in the David Clark Labs on campus. Despite the frosty air outside, the speakers drew a warm crowd, including a mix of enthusiastic students, faculty and staff.
The Raleigh Democrat noticed there was something in the air.
“There have been a lot of announcements and events to attend on campus lately,” Price quipped, alluding to last week’s presidential visit. “NC State seems to be on some sort of roll.”
In fact, the university’s selection to lead the multidisciplinary regional climate center came back in 2010 as part of the Interior Department’s first-ever coordinated strategy to address the impact of climate change on America’s land, water, oceans, fish, wildlife and cultural resources. It’s one of eight centers funded by the federal agency.
But the center’s researchers have been so busy since then, the grand opening celebration was put on the back burner until this week.
Biological sciences professor Damian Shea, who co-directs the center with Interior’s Gerard McMahon, said the center excels at pushing past traditional boundaries, bringing together scientists, business leaders and resource managers to confront one of the most complex issues facing society.
It also has the backing of political leaders on both sides of the aisle. Shea acknowledged the support of GOP representatives Renee Ellmers and George Holding, as well as Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan.
Woodson echoed the theme, noting that the center’s work involves students and researchers in six colleges across campus.
“Most of today’s pressing problems are really at the interface of disciplines, and nothing exemplifies that as much as climate change,” he said. “Nothing could be more critically important for industry, for agriculture and for other sectors across the Southeast. Clearly this is integrative work spanning disciplines such as biology, earth systems sciences and mathematics. And this integration is vital if we are to solve the vexing problems of our time.”
Price said NC State’s bid to host the center succeeded because of the university’s experience leading public-private partnerships. The work is important, he added, because the stakes are high.
“Change is coming, and we need to be prepared for the climate change that is coming and is already taking place,” he said. “The countries that address this issue by investing in clean energy are the countries that will lead the 21st century global economy.”