History

ASRC interior shot

Located in New York’s world-famous neighborhood of Harlem, the striking 200,000-square-foot Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC) building embodies a bold vision for the future of scientific innovation. At the ASRC’s core is a world-class facility designed to inspire novel approaches to the scientific method itself—one that links talented and ambitious scientists with hundreds of top researchers from the 25 campuses of The City University of New York (CUNY) as well as colleagues within and far beyond the five boroughs of New York City.

The ASRC was conceived as a major capstone of the CUNY Decade for Science and subsequently realized through the leadership of then Chancellor Matthew Goldstein and Vice Chancellor for Research Gillian Small. The ASRC was designed to broadly accelerate CUNY research in five interdisciplinary areas that sought to build off the foundation of University faculty in photonics, nanoscience, structural biology, neuroscience, and environmental science. With its flowing floor plans and open central stairway, the ASRC building actively promotes cross-pollination of interdisciplinary science among these five core themes, thereby facilitating a vertical integration of big ideas. Researchers from all of the initiatives and CUNY campuses work side by side in the ASRC’s core facilities, sharing equipment that is among the most advanced of its kind anywhere in the world.

Since opening its doors in the fall of 2014, the ASRC has rapidly established itself as a major research enterprise in the New York metropolitan area. At the same time, the presence of such a center at the University is a reminder of how targeted strategic investments in infrastructure can elevate the scientific research profile of a public, teaching-oriented institution. In January 2017, the administration of the ASRC was moved from the CUNY chancellery to The Graduate Center. As the accredited home of the University’s doctoral programs in the arts and sciences, and as a consortial school largely staffed by faculty appointed across CUNY’s 25 colleges, The Graduate Center has many inherent advantages to serving as the administrative home for the ASRC. The Graduate Center administers a range of administrative operations for the ASRC, including IT and library services. It also serves as the link with the chancellery and other key elements in the University’s central administration, which oversee annual budget allocations and other strategic areas. The addition of the ASRC also presents a strategic benefit to The Graduate Center, as its scientific research and faculty can be leveraged to enhance the profile of a number of related graduate programs.

In the fall of 2014, CUNY presented its five-year strategic plan for the first phase of the ASRC’s operations. This aspirational document highlighted the ASRC as a model of collaborative, interdisciplinary research within CUNY. Having achieved many of those early goals, the 2020–2024 five-year strategic plan builds on that initial foundation, highlights key successes, and lays out a vision for the future of the ASRC.

students interacting with an exhibit in the ASRC Illumination Space

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