From left, TSRC Executive Director Mark Kozak, recently hired TSRC Director of Donor Relations Annie Carlson and TSRC board member Sally Puff Courtney. TSRC launched a capital campaign to transform the Depot into the Telluride Science and Innovation Center. (Courtesy photo)

Telluride has long been known as a world-class ski resort. That’s not necessarily news, or surprising, to anyone at this point. But what many may not know is that the Telluride Science Research Center (TSRC) has become world-renown in its own right over the past 37 years. Through events like the annual Town Talks, which welcome leading experts across numerous fields to Telluride in discussing everything from Alzheimer’s disease to the COVID-19 pandemic more recently, TSRC continues to expand its reach and offerings.

While the pandemic required changes to programming, mainly switching to more virtual events, TSRC did not shutter, but instead thrived, to a degree.

The nonprofit was able to purchase the historic Depot Building in October 2020, and recently launched a $6 million capital campaign for renovations and a complete restoration of the building, which is currently serving as the Telluride Regional Medical Center’s interim COVID-19 center. But as soon as the medical center is finished with the building, the Telluride Science and Innovation Center project will kick off in earnest, TSRC Executive Director Mark Kozak said.

“We are one step closer to making the Telluride Science and Innovation Center a reality. This state-of the-art innovation center will host scientists at any time of year, curate innovation workshops to drive advancements in technology and policy, and offer educational programming to students and the general public,” he added.

SALT Architecture’s plans are already approved, and construction is expected to take approximately 18 months, according to a recent TSRC news release. Building renovations are expected to start in September 2022, a date that TSRC officials hope will coincide with the completion of the $6 million capital campaign.

“I have been involved in a number of nonprofits during my 47 years in Telluride, but I have never been presented with an opportunity to support something as important as science’s impact on the world right here from Telluride,” TSRC board member Sally Puff Courtney said. “This is my chance to be involved with the next frontier and to make a difference for future generations.”

TSRC recently hired Annie Carlson, most recently of the Telluride Tourism Board, to oversee capital campaign efforts in her new role as director of donor relations. She’s also worked for Telski and the Telluride Foundation during her 27 years in town.

“The campaign is multi-faceted and includes donor outreach and engagement, increasing awareness about Telluride Science through PR efforts, public programming and events,” she said. “I will assist by ensuring fundraising efforts are on track so that we can start renovations in September.”

Carlson has always enjoyed attending Town Talks over the years, and explained she became even more familiar with TSRC’s impact in the science world after she coordinated a story for the tourism board’s summer magazine.

“Each time I attend, I become more excited about the organization and hopeful about the future as these scientists are working on cutting edge research that could have a major impact on the world and by the ideas presented and discussed,” she added.

While creating a permanent home for the TSRC at the Depot building is the organization’s biggest focus at the moment, Carlson outlined what that space will allow the nonprofit to provide moving forward.

“The focus is to launch the Telluride Science and Innovation Center and help Telluride become the hub of intellectual opportunity. The center will utilize the core values from TSRC by hosting small, intimate and collaborative workshops that fall outside of the realm of core science. We will curate impactful innovation programming that generates solutions in health care and medicine, energy generation and storage, computing and communications, natural resource conservation, STEM education, and more,” she said. “We want to increase the level of community engagement with TSRC by delivering public programming that stimulates curiosity, promotes critical thinking and inspires. We hope to use scientists and experts who come to attend professional workshops to then share their expertise with the community during publicly accessible programming like seminars, talks and weekend workshops.”

TSRC’s network of scientists is currently over 5,000, including 1,200 that participated in 46 workshops during 2021

For more information about TSRC, visit telluridescience.org.