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Science Lab Renovations To Expand Opportunities

Science Lab Renovations To Expand Opportunities

 By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

“I would be willing to bet that we’ll be the best equipped small science department in the state.”

--Dr. Scott Pinkerton, Assistant Professor

That’s the goal of planned renovations and upgrades to the science lab area of the R. Joe Dennis Learning Center.

The renovations will increase the functionality of the lab area and enhance safety as well.

Science faculty members Pinkerton, Dr. John Kyndt, and Dr. Tyler Moore developed a plan that outlined how upgrades could impact the educational opportunities by soThreeGuys (2)lidifying current degree offerings as well as expanding possibilities for new programs.

“It will give us the capability of moving out into degree areas that we are not capable of moving into right now,” Pinkerton said. “If we have dedicated research areas, that means we might be able to look at research-based graduate degrees. We’ve talked about a master’s in biotechnology. This would give us that capability.”

Amongst the new equipment being considered are:

Spectrophotometers -- an instrument that measures the amount of photons (the intensity of light) absorbed after it passes through sample solution.

“I’ve been able to order some sample equipment already,” Pinkerton said. “The students already are being exposed to it and fighting over who gets to use it.”

Compound microscopes -- a microscope which uses a lens close to the object being viewed to collect light (called the objective lens) which focuses a real image of the object inside the microscope. That image is then magnified by a second lens or group of lenses (called the eyepiece) that gives the viewer an enlarged inverted virtual image of the object.

“The compound microscopes are going to be really cool. They actually have a built-in tablet on top of them a seven-inch tablet,” Pinkerton said. “Not only do you have the eyepiece, but you will also be able to display the image on the tablet. We’re talking about having Apple TV on monitors. You should be able to take the image from the microscope and throw it up on the monitor.”

DNA sequencer -- used to determine the order of the four bases: G (guanine), C (cytosine), A (adenine) and T (thymine). This is then reported as a text string, called a read. Some DNA sequencers can be also considered optical instruments as they analyze light signals originating from fluorochromes attached tonucleotides.

“Some of the other equipment will be spaced out a bit. The University is actively going out and seeking donations,” Pinkerton said.

The new equipment and renovations won’t be locked away behind closed doors either. It will be on display with glass walls running down one side of the labs.

“We have a focus on the science on display,” Kyndt said. “This will allow us to showcase it more. You’ll be able to see what’s happening in the labs.”

Degrees directly impacted by the improvement will include Biology, Health and Human Performance, Health Science, Sustainability Management, and the Master of Science in Professional Sciences. Others programs that would benefit include Psychology. The upgrades should also benefit the teacher-education program.

“This will also support when secondary education comes in because biology is one of the emphasis areas, and chemistry is going to be one of the emphasis areas,” Pinkerton said. “You’ll have people who are coming in and training on this equipment. Knowing what this equipment is, know how to operate, know how to do this research and when they go out into the high schools and talking to kids and trying to get kids interested in science as a career path.

“We will have capability like a small research university, but we’ll have class sizes and experience like small teaching university. That will give us a differentiator.”