Queen’s interdisciplinary water research receives $5 million donation

University District

AAC Academic Grievance Centre

The Beaty Water Research Centre will open in Spring 2018

Ross J. Beaty at the announcement on Feb. 24.
Credit: 
Photo supplied by Queen's Communications

On Feb 24, the University received a $5 million donation from Ross J. Beaty, which will give way to the creation of the Beaty Water Research Centre, to be located in the new Queen’s Innovation and Wellness Centre.

Ross J. Beaty, a veteran with 40 years of experience in the renewable energy industry, currently serves as Chairman of Pan American Silver Corp and as an advisory board member on the Nature Trust of British Columbia. He is also the father of two Queen’s graduates. 

The initiative will have a permanent spot in the Wellness Centre, where a group of Queen’s professors and graduate students in civil and chemical engineering will conduct water research. 

According to Principal Woolf’s statement at the announcement, these individuals will, “come together and take the lead in sustaining one of our most precious resources.” 

The centre will feature state-of-the-art laboratories where faculty and students will engage with genetics experts, chemists, microbiologists, and public health researchers. Connecting upwards of 50 faculty members and students, the initiative strives to further freshwater research in the “governance, sustainability, and protection of water resources,” according a press release shared by the University on Feb 24.

“I had a good feeling about Queen’s having had two of my kids as Queen’s alumni and wanted to support the university,” Beaty told The Journal via email on Thursday.

“This was just right. My only stipulation was that my cheque would be given when they actually began construction and that it be directed into something ‘environmental’. So the water research center was just perfect,” Beaty wrote. 

According to the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Kimberly Woodhouse, Beaty’s donation will build the physical lab space within the Wellness Centre, to be located on the third floor in the southeast section upon completion in Spring 2018. 

“Support for research conducted in the Beaty Water Research Centre will come from a variety of sources — including grants to faculty from various research organizations as well as other sources,” Woodhouse wrote in an email to The Journal on Thursday.

While research in this area is ongoing, the donation will allow for its centralization, as the many facilities where it is conducted are dispersed throughout campus. It will allow for Queen’s and Royal Military College researchers to attempt to understand more clearly the necessary steps to protect and remediate water supplies, as well as the associated risks. 

Beaty is confident that the donation will be used well and that the research it will support will promote long term results, conducive to sustainable and environmentally focused change in how water resources are approached. 

The experts in the Beaty Water Research Centre will decide the specific projects; Beaty placed no stipulations or conditions on research focus upon providing the money.  

In the Feb. 24 University press release, Woodhouse stated, “A key focus will be on safe drinking water from small, untreated systems or untreated urban or rural domestic wells. This work has the potential to improve the lives of millions of people around the globe. In Canada, the research directly impacts those living in vulnerable remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples.” 

Beaty echoed this sentiment, saying he would be “very pleased” to see improvements in that area.

“Canada has more freshwater per capital than any country on our planet, yet many of our smaller communities, especially Indigenous communities, are plagued with bad drinking water,” Beaty wrote. “This is outrageous and has to be remedied.”

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