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First evolution study centre in UK could be built at University of Bath

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Written by: Tim MacFarlan | Posted 10 February 2016 15:39

First evolution study centre in UK could be built at University of Bath

The University of Bath has submitted a planning application for a building which will house the first centre for evolution in the UK.

The Milner Centre for Evolution, part of the University's Department of Biology & Biochemistry, will be the first of its kind in the country to combine fundamental, applied and education research. The Centre is named after alumnus Dr Jonathan Milner, who graduated in Biology & Biochemistry in 1988 and donated £5 million last year towards establishing the centre.

The Milner Centre for Evolution will focus on three areas: asking fundamental questions of evolution; finding new technological and clinical applications and taking evolutionary research into the community. The proposed building, located on the south side of the lake at the University's Claverton Down campus, will feature offices, laboratories and a seminar room, as well as a collaborative work area for researchers to gather and share ideas.

The design includes viewing areas of the laboratories so that schools and other visitors can watch scientists at work.

There will also be educational outreach and public engagement spaces to allow exhibitions and visits by schools and other groups.

Professor Laurence Hurst is director of the new centre. He said: "This is a really exciting venture for Bath. We have a wealth of expertise in evolutionary science at the university, including fundamental research describing new species of dinosaurs and applied study tracking bacterial epidemics in real time and identifying the 'holy grail' of human stem cells.

"The new state-of-the-art building will allow us to grow and excel further in the field of evolution research, public engagement and outreach. We will also work closely with schools and engagement professionals to develop an interactive public space for everyone to explore evolutionary research."

The Milner Centre for Evolution will bring together a group of 19 academics with a combined research portfolio of more than £5.6 million. Academics and their research groups are from the fields of biology, biochemistry, health and education.

If the building gets planning approval from Bath and North East Somerset Council construction will likely start in the autumn as the university enters its 50th anniversary year.

The new centre expected to open in December 2017.

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