Let's Do Science! UTA Breaks Ground on $125 Million Facility

Leine Newby-Estrella tried to explain the concept of "retrotransposons" to the audience during the groundbreaking of the University of Texas at Arlington's new research facility, but the young UTA doctorate student's scientific spiel left Congressman Joe Barton a bit confused.

"The only people in the audience who know what you're saying are your professors," Barton said. 

Newby-Estrella smiled. "I tried to use layman's terms," she said, prompting the audience to erupt in laughter and applause. 

The study of "retrotransposons" would be just one of the many research initiatives done at UTA's Science and Engineering Innovation and Research (SEIR) building, set to open in August 2018. The $125 million facility will span 220,000 square feet and serve as a home for laboratories, classrooms and other resources for life and health science research. 

Leine Newby-Estrella (middle) joined UTA officials and government leaders in the groundbreaking of the SEIR building.

Newby-Estrella joined UTA officials and government leaders to turn dirt for the project Thursday.

"The current work being done by students and faculty on campus is excellent," she said. "But I have seen first hand that the distances among various science buildings on campus can sometimes assert an inadvertent impediment on collaboration." 

Leine Newby-Estrella speaks at the groundbreaking of UTA's SEIR building. 

The SEIR facility comes at a time when UTA has been experiencing record-breaking numbers in enrollment. UTA President Vistasp Karbhari said the university had nearly 40,000 students this fall and projects to serve more than 57,000 students by the end of the academic year. 

Karbhari said the SEIR building is another step in "our journey to being the very best university in the state of Texas."

Barton said he looks forward to the future research that will be done in the facility.

There's just one little thing he's particularly interested in. 

"My only request, Mr. President," Barton said, addressing Karbhari, "I noticed in the information that your staff sent me, that you're going to do research on aging. I want to accelerate that since I am 67."