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Kansas State's College of Human Ecology Opening Research Hub

An empty building is getting a new lease on life as a research hub for Kansas State University's College of Human Ecology.

Kansas State University

MANHATTAN -- An empty building is getting a new lease on life as a research hub for Kansas State University's College of Human Ecology.

The Kansas Board of Regents recently approved the college's request to purchase the KSU Foundation building formerly used by the NanoScale Corp. The building, at 1310 Research Park Drive, will be purchased for $2.74 million through a combination of private funds, restricted fees and sponsored research overhead. It will be named the Human Ecology Research and Innovation Building.

The new research center is nearly 20,000 square feet in size and includes laboratories, office and classroom space, and a lobby. It will house the college's Sensory Analysis Center, kinesiology NASA project, Institute for Academic Alliances, the Programs for Workplace Solutions and two apparel, textiles and design projects. Additionally, it will include specialized research tools such as an odor chamber, a body scanner and a zero gravity machine.

The centers and projects are currently transitioning from Justin Hall to the Human Ecology Research and Innovation Building.

"The new space offers the flexibility to house projects as they change over time," said Virginia Moxley, dean of the College of Human Ecology. "The projects currently planning to move to the new space all have major work underway and the new facility will enable them to improve their efficiency and the quality of their outcomes."

Moxley made it a priority to acquire laboratory space for the college's larger-scale research projects before her retirement as dean on June 28.

"The new space creates many opportunities for Rick Cottle and Minyoung Suh, our two faculty members who will have large-scale projects there," said Barbara Anderson, associate professor and apparel, textiles and interior design department head. "Their research has applications that enhance quality of life and may relate to other research projects in the building, leading to future collaborations."

Kansas State University
The Human Ecology Research and Innovation Building is a new centralized research hub for several of the College of Human Ecology's research centers and large-scale projects. Photo courtesy of Kansas State University  

According to Edgar Chambers IV, university distinguished professor and director of the Sensory Analysis Center, the new location will be a great boost for the center's research and graduate education in sensory analysis and consumer behavior.

"When the center was first founded, we educated students and conducted research only on food and beverages," he said. "Although those are still important parts of our work, we also work with a variety of consumer and industrial products, including personal care products such as shampoo and toothpaste, and household products such as room deodorizers, automobile paint finishes, e-readers and textiles. Appropriate space for those types of studies was lacking on campus. The new building will allow development of great space for great research and education."

The new location and its 50 parking stalls also provide easy access for consumer panels and corporate partners who are sponsoring or participating in the projects.

The Human Ecology Research and Innovation Building will be home to the following centers and projects:

  • The Sensory Analysis Center, which uses consumer testing, sensory analysis, marketing and psychology to investigate food, beverages and various consumer products.
  • NASA-contracted kinesiology research that studies the physiological effects of space travel.
  • The Institute for Academic Alliances, which provides research and consultation for higher education alliances nationwide, and is the managing arm of the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance.
  • The Workplace Solutions project that provides service to the Kansas Department of Family and Child Services and the Brigade Commander Spouse program at Fort Leavenworth.
  • The research laboratory for the personal financial planning and financial therapy programs.
  • Apparel research that captures 3D digital scans for the human body. The 3-D digital scans are used with 2-D pattern technology to improve the fit of apparel items based on different body shapes.
  • An apparel project that uses motion capture and pressure sensing technologies to develop better undergarments that are used during exercise.

Once the projects and centers have been relocated, the space previously used in Justin Hall for them will be reallocated for hospitality management laboratories and the Center on Aging.