Bringing the Departments of Plant Sciences and Zoology together will unlock many benefits for the University through achieving co-location, encouraging collaboration and simplifying the teaching of the joint Biology degree. The taxonomically-focused labels of these two departments no longer capture the breadth and diversity of modern biological research. The Life and Mind Building has provided the impetus for the merger of these two departments to form a new Department of Biology from 2022, with co-location in the building from 2024. The academic drivers for this are numerous, including the fact that many of our research programmes address bacterial, viral, fungal, and other forms of life which are not captured by the terms Zoology or Plant Sciences. Equally, many problems are studied across taxonomic boundaries, or address the interactions between animals, microbes and plants. Further, many of the great biological challenges of the 21st century, such as how we feed 9 billion people, how we mitigate the effects of climate change and emerging diseases, and how we conserve biodiversity require connection across multiple scales and disciplines within Biology. Designing the building with this vision has enabled us to create integrated facilities that deliver capacity for the next decades in Biology.
We are also excited by the prospect of sharing a building with Experimental Psychology. The Life and Mind Building has been designed for collaboration and ease of interaction. Shared teaching, meeting and social spaces, grouped around a central atrium acting as a hub for engagement, will enable us to find common ground, both in terms of how we educate students and in terms of our research topics. While working together on the design of the building, we have found many common areas, from shared approaches in data and network science, to shared research interests in sensory, social and cognitive science. Many of these underpin key challenges facing humanity today, and our vision for the Life and Mind Building includes the delivery of enhanced collaboration between the departments in these areas.
The Life and Mind Building is the largest building project the University has ever undertaken and will significantly improve the way psychological and biological science is undertaken in Oxford, helping scientists to solve some of our major global challenges. It will be home to the Department of Experimental Psychology and a new Department of Biology, combining the existing Departments of Plant Sciences and Zoology. The funding and delivery of the building will be undertaken in partnership with Legal & General. For more, visit: https://lifeandmind.web.ox.ac.uk