The University of British Columbia today officially opened the Beaty Biodiversity Centre, new home to some of the world’s top biodiversity researchers and Canada’s largest blue whale skeleton exhibit.
The centre houses the Biodiversity Research Centre, which has brought 25 principal investigators and their teams under one roof, and the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, with more than two million specimens, slated to open this fall.
The 11,550-sq. metre, four-storey building is designed to facilitate collaboration among researchers from different disciplines. The building has innovative sustainability features such as a green roof and water channel that supports aquatic plants and insects while helping reduce storm water surges. The $50-million project is made possible with support from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the Province of British Columbia, an $8-million gift from UBC alumni Ross and Trisha Beaty and a $3-million gift from the djavad mowafaghian foundation.
UBC President Stephen Toope was joined by Premier Gordon Campbell, CFI President Eliot Phillipson, Ross Beaty and Hamid Eshghi, president of the djavad mowafaghian foundation, for today’s opening ceremony.
“The Beaty Biodiversity Centre exemplifies UBC’s goal to engage and inspire,” said Prof. Toope. “The synergy and intellectual discourse enabled by the shared research space, and the curiosity and reflection inspired by the museum’s public programs, will have an enormous impact on our understanding of our complex and interconnected world.”
“The CFI is proud to support leading-edge research by UBC scientists that will not only advance basic knowledge on the origins of life but inform critically important conservation efforts to maintain biodiversity in Canada and around the world,” said Phillipson.
“By investing in cutting-edge labs and equipment, we are giving these talented researchers the tools to answer fundamental questions about how species emerge, and how to conserve those that are endangered,” said Premier Campbell, who noted that B.C. is the most biodiverse province or territory in Canada. “In the face of climate change, we are working to find ways to sustain life in all its forms, even as we take action to protect our natural world by reducing our carbon footprint.”
“The Beaty Biodiversity Centre will enrich our local society, Canadian society, and global society by carrying out research and displaying some of the species and biodiversity of our world,” said Ross Beaty. “And it will teach existing and future generations – our children – the wonders and fragility of many of the species we all share the earth with.”
The opening ceremony was followed by the naming of the Djavad Mowafaghian Atrium, a two-storey glass gallery in the Beaty Biodiversity Museum that houses the 25-metre skeleton of a blue whale that washed ashore on the coast of Prince Edward Island in 1987. Articulated in the species’ signature lunge-feeding pose, the UBC blue whale is the largest skeleton exhibit in the world suspended without external armature.
“The museum’s atrium will become a focal point for outreach and educational activities that will help school children and the general public gain a better understanding of, and appreciation for, the interconnectedness of all living things on earth,” said Djavad Mowafaghian in a statement. “The knowledge of where we come from and where we are going will entice us to be more active in helping to improve our environment for our children.”
The museum also announced today summer preview dates for the blue whale exhibit in advance of the museum’s fall public opening. On May 22 – International Day of Biological Diversity – the public is invited to see the blue whale and celebrate her journey with the people from PEI
and B.C. who worked to save her. Additional previews will occur on May
29, June 19, July 17, and August 21.
For more information on the blue whale summer previews, visit www.beatymuseum.ubc.ca.
Background: UBC’s Beaty Biodiversity Centre
Biodiversity is the variety of life. It is the range of genetic, species and ecosystem diversity in an environment. On May 13, 2010, the University of British Columbia officially opened the Beaty Biodiversity Centre, which houses the Beaty Biodiversity Museum and the Biodiversity Research Centre.
About the Biodiversity Research Centre
The Biodiversity Research Centre is an academic unit composed of more than 50 internationally renowned scientists who are all dedicated to the study of biodiversity, half of whom have now been brought together in the Beaty Biodiversity Centre. Here, interdisciplinary working groups study the biological forces that produce and sustain biodiversity, as well as the forces that lead to extinction, and the local and global consequences of this loss. For more information visit www.biodiversity.ubc.ca .
About UBC’s Beaty Biodiversity Museum
Scheduled to open this fall, the Beaty Biodiversity Museum brings UBC’s six research collections of more than two million specimens under one roof and on public view for the first time. The Museum focuses on the interconnectedness of the world’s species through a combination of exhibits, hands-on discovery labs, educators’ resources, and public presentations. The Museum will serve as an invaluable link between the world-renowned scientists at the Biodiversity Research Centre and the public. For more information visit www.beatymuseum.ubc.ca .
About the Blue Whale Exhibit
Twenty-three years after it washed up on the coast of Prince Edward Island, the skeleton of a 25-metre blue whale is now on display – in the species’ signature lung-feeding pose – in its permanent home as the centerpiece of the UBC Beaty Biodiversity Museum. The skeleton, the largest in Canada, will also be the largest skeleton in the world to be suspended without external armature.
Quick facts about the blue whale:
- The blue whale is the biggest animal to have ever lived on earth – bigger than any dinosaur.
- A blue whale’s heart is the size of a car, and the arteries connected to the heart are large enough for a human baby to crawl through.
- The blue whale is also the loudest animal. At 190 decibels, a blue whale’s call is louder than a jet (140 decibels), and much louder than a person can shout (70 decibels).
- Blue whales inhabit every ocean on the planet, and travel from frigid polar waters, where they feed, to warm tropical waters, where they give birth to their calves. Despite their great size and range, we know very little about these gentle giants.
- The blue whale is listed as an endangered species under Canada’s Species at Risk Act. It is also on the IUCN (The World Conservation Union) Red List of endangered species. There are an estimated 4,500 blue whales left in the world, down from 350,000 before whaling activities began.
Canada Foundation for Innovation
The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) is an independent corporation created by the Government of Canada to fund research infrastructure. The CFI’s mandate is to strengthen the capacity of Canadian universities, colleges, research hospitals, and non-profit research institutions to carry out world-class research and technology development that benefits Canadians. Since its creation in 1997, the CFI has committed $5.3 billion in support of more than 6,800 projects at 130 research institutions in 65 municipalities across Canada.
British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund
The BC Knowledge Development Fund helps public post-secondary institutions, teaching hospitals and affiliated non-profit research agencies invest in research infrastructure in the province. Its goals are to maximize the economic and social benefits of investing in research, promote excellence in research, enhance research infrastructure, encourage collaboration, improve the province’s ability to attract and retain highly qualified personnel, and ensure institutions have the ability to compete successfully for private sector and federal funding. Projects chosen for funding under the B.C. Knowledge Development Fund contribute to building and enhancing an institution’s long-term capacity for leading-edge research, provincial economic development, and job creation.
About Ross Beaty
UBC alumnus and philanthropist Ross J. Beaty is a geologist and resource company entrepreneur with more than 37 years of experience in the international minerals industry. He has founded, built and divested a number of public mineral resource companies since 1985. Mr. Beaty is the Chairman and CEO of Magma Energy Corp., a company he founded in 2008 to focus on international geothermal energy development. He also founded and currently serves as Chairman of Pan American Silver Corp., one of the world’s leading silver producers. Mr. Beaty is a Director of The Nature Trust of B.C., past President of the Silver Institute in Washington, DC., a Fellow of the Geological Association of Canada and the Canadian Institute of Mining, and a recipient of the Institute’s Past President’s Memorial Medal. He is married to UBC alumna and physician Trisha Beaty.
The djavad mowafaghian foundation
Regarding children as the most precious gift given to humankind, Djavad Mowafaghian established a foundation with a mandate to better the lives of children through health and education. The djavad mowafaghian foundation has built close to 30 schools and supported many organizations in BC, including UBC, where the foundation has supported the Human Early Learning Partnership and the Beaty Biodiversity Centre. In recognition of this generous support, the atrium housing the blue whale skeleton at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum has been named for Djavad Mowafaghian.
About the people
Sarah (Sally) Otto, Biodiversity Research Centre director
Sally Otto is a professor and Canada Research Chair in the Department of Zoology, and the Director of the Biodiversity Research Centre. She studies population genetics and evolutionary biology. She develops and analyzes mathematical models to study how populations change over time. The aim of this work is to identify when and whether particular evolutionary transitions are possible.
Wayne Maddison, Beaty Biodiversity Museum director
Wayne Maddison is a professor and Canada Research Chair in the departments of zoology and botany, and Director of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum. His early interest in spider diversity led to a research career that has taken him from the jungles of South America, Africa and Asia and Australia to the innards of complex computer programs that look for the echoes of evolutionary history in data from living species.
Andrew Trites, UBC Blue Whale Project leader
Andrew Trites is director of the Marine Mammal Research Unit at the Fisheries Centre, part of the College for Interdisciplinary Studies at UBC. He is also an associate professor at the Biodiversity Research Centre in the Faculty of Science. His research focuses on furthering the conservation and understanding of marine mammals and resolving conflicts between people and marine mammals.
Mike deRoos, UBC Blue Whale Exhibit articulator
Mike deRoos is the master skeleton articulator on the Blue Whale Project. He has always been interested in biology, the ocean, and building things large and small. During his Bachelor of Science studies – completed in part at UBC – he articulated his first marine mammal skeleton, a sea otter. The Blue Whale Project combined his interest in marine biology with construction experience gained working in the family contracting business. Since 2000, Mike has articulated eleven marine mammal skeletons, including a 60-foot fin whale, a killer whale, a minke whale, three pacific white-sided dolphins and two Steller sea lions.