Scott Strobel, the new vice president of West Campus planning and program development, recently sat down to talk about his vision for Yale's developing 136-acre interdisciplinary research complex.
What are your goals for the West Campus in the next few years?
I would like to fully build out the five institutes on campus and finish faculty recruitment so they are at full strength. I also hope to more fully engage the physical sciences and engineering in research efforts. To that end, I would like to create another core facility that would meet the needs of engineers and physical scientists.
Do you still hope to create a new energy institute as well?
Those discussions are very much alive. We should move in the direction of strengthening our presence for energy and sustainability. No one knows exactly where the alternative energy sources of the future will come from, so I would like to involve chemists, engineers, physical scientists and biologists in finding solutions to these problems.
Have faculty been using the advanced technology available at West Campus?
There have been some phenomenal successes in some core technology areas, such as genomics, which have led to a remarkable number of scientific research findings. For instance, the technology available here was part of the reason Gilead Sciences decided to invest up to $100 million in cancer research being conducted at Yale.
What role do the arts play on West Campus?
The arts initiatives that have been launched are a perfect illustration of how interdisciplinary efforts can work here. For instance, staff from the major museums are working closely with chemists and other scientists on a variety of projects designed to find new ways to preserve Yale's art treasures. The recent $25 million gift from Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin '78 for the Yale Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage assures the creation of a stellar conservation and digitization center that will make West Campus the envy of the art world.
Has the existence of the new campus changed Yale yet?
It's beginning to. Last month we held a drug discovery symposium and 180 people came, not only from the medical school but also from chemistry, engineering and other physical sciences. There were a lot of conversations about potential collaborations that took place during that event. West Campus is facilitating interactions between Science Hill and medical school scientists that have not happened before.
Are fostering these interactions one of the reasons you were attracted to this job?
Absolutely, I am familiar with both cultures, and I think I have a sense of how to bridge them. The other thing that made this job interesting is because it is such an unusual opportunity; rarely is a project of this scale undertaken at a university. We are building something entirely new.
How will know if you have succeeded at your job?
I think we will be on the road to success when people throughout Yale conclude that West Campus has significantly raised the scientific climate of the University.
To learn more about some of the activities taking place on West Campus, click here.
— By Bill Hathaway