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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI partners with Pittsburgh conservatory to enhance pharmaceutical research, education

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

URI College of Pharmacy now has a green side


KINGSTON, R.I. – April 12, 2011 – The University of Rhode Island has entered a partnership with Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, Pa., one of the world’s most energy-efficient and sustainable conservatories.
The five-year partnership will help to provide information on a proposed energy-efficient conservatory at URI and enhance URI’s and Phipps Conservatory’s educational programs.

Richard Piacentini, executive director of Phipps Conservatory, a URI College of Pharmacy alumnus, and catalyst of the collaboration, is looking forward to sharing information.

“URI has a rich history in natural plant product chemistry. At Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, we are very interested in the knowledge the University can bring to our exhibits, educational programs, and in particular, to our upcoming exhibit, Tropical Forest: India, focusing on Indian vegetation,” said Piacentini. “As an additional component of the partnership, we are eager to share with them our knowledge of green buildings, conservatories and medicinal plant collections.”

URI President David M. Dooley and URI alumni attended a recent event held at Phipps in Pittsburgh to highlight the new partnership.

Dooley said partnerships such as these benefit both parties and provide great opportunities for URI students and faculty to work with leading institutions outside Rhode Island’s borders.

“We are delighted with Director Piacentini’s interest in having the conservatory work with our students and faculty in the College of Pharmacy and the College of the Environment and Life Sciences on critical issues such as sustainability and medicinal plant science. These are the kinds of relationships that can transform our students’ experiences here at URI as they work on important issues for our country and the world. I am very grateful for the hospitality extended by the conservatory to our URI contingent. I know that the first meeting was only the beginning of a very exciting partnership.”

Ian Lester, lead information technologist for URI’s biomedical science program and co-chair of the pharmacy building committee, is excited about discussions with Phipps related to energy efficient techniques for a proposed conservatory and medicinal garden at the new College of Pharmacy building now under construction.

Ronald P. Jordan, dean of URI’s College of Pharmacy, shares similar sentiments about the partnership.

“Phipps Conservatory and URI share many of the same values including the desire to educate and promote sustainable practices in gardening, landscaping, healthy nutrition and the use of natural products and herbs to promote health. URI will extend our research and teaching to Pittsburgh and beyond with this partnership.”

In addition, URI is facilitating communication between Phipps Conservatory and international experts regarding the upcoming exhibit focusing on Indian vegetation. Along with networking resources, URI will also make prior research on the topic available to the conservatory.

Although for some Rhode Islanders the almost 10-hour drive might seem far, Lester points out various ways the two organizations have been able to avoid expensive and time-consuming travel.

“As part of our collaboration, we will be developing joint teaching opportunities, either physically or virtually by video conference. With the new pharmacy building, we will include the necessary technology to conduct these virtual meetings and will encourage the conservatory to do the same. If we use the technology in the right way, it negates the distance factor between the two organizations,” said Lester.

Pictured above
Phipps Conservatory. Photo Credit: Alexander Denmarsh

This release was written by Alicia Blain, an intern in URI’s Department of Communications and Marketing and a public relations major.