U.S. Sen. Richard Burr Tours CREST Research Park

Friday, August 15, 2014

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) visited the CREST Research Park at UNCW on Aug. 15 as part of a weeklong tour of Randolph, Guilford, Moore, Scotland, Robeson and New Hanover counties.

The tour was led by Daniel Baden, director of the UNCW Center for Marine Science. UNCW Chancellor Bill Sederburg and Mark Lanier, assistant to the chancellor and assistant secretary to the Board of Trustees, also participated.

While touring the interdisciplinary research facility that houses MARBIONC Development Group, LLC, the Center for Marine Science as well as the Shellfish Research Hatchery, they discussed topics such as economic development, public/private partnerships, 21st century experiences for students and innovation.

Baden explained how the facility serves audiences outside UNCW. Corporations also conduct business in the state-of-art facility.  “It’s not just keeping scientists happy, but also keeping corporations happy,” he said, touting rising tech company NextGlass as an example.  NextGlass has lab space at the MARBIONC facility, as well as offices at UNCW’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Burr spoke with UNCW researchers and professors. Andrea Bourdelais explained her work with a drug to treat cystic fibrosis and Carm Tomas discussed bio active compounds, antiviral agents and collaborations with local industries. Outreach and education coordinator Jennifer Dorton discussed buoys and their role in national weather forecasting. Ami Wilbur, who serves as director of the UNCW Shellfish Hatchery, explained how her team of researchers are collaborating with industry to diversify oyster crops.

All of these are examples of “translational science," systematic efforts to convert basic research knowledge into practical applications to enhance human health and well-being. Baden said the work that goes on inside CREST is indicative of “where we are going as a university. The science we are developing - what is it doing for the American people.”

In addition to complimenting the “impressive” facilities, Burr noted “the human value and the educational value of all the work,” particularly in relation to current issues such as infectious disease.

Burr is serving his second term in the U.S. Senate. He is a ranking member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee and also sits on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, the Intelligence Committee and the Finance Committee.