Science lab renovations nearing completion, open house planned

By: ISU Communications and Marketing Staff, ISU Communications and Marketing Staff
March 16, 2012

An almost $2.3 million renovation of science laboratories at Indiana State University is nearing completion.

A $1.5 million National Science Foundation grant allowed the university to update seven research laboratories in the Science Building. Additionally, the state allocated money paid to renovate three teaching labs for biology, environmental science and chemistry at a cost of $777,000.

The university will host a public open house to showcase the renovated labs at 3:30 p.m. March 30 in the Science Building Room 12.

Eric Glendening, chair of chemistry and physics departments, said the NSF-funded renovation project took longer than expected due to extra money being available, which allowed an expansion of plans.

"Bids for construction came in well under what we budgeted," he said.

With about $300,000 unallocated and NSF allowing the money to be used solely on the renovation, they went back to the drawing board and included upgrades to the labs, including more durable flooring.

"It's interesting to see them renovated," Glendening said. "Right now with the cabinets going in and the floors, these are going to be nice labs."

More than 50 years have passed since the Science Building was built in the 1960s and this is the first time the labs have been renovated. Glendening described the labs prior to the renovation as "dungeon-like" and in poor condition after five decades of constant use. The renovation, during which construction workers gutted the labs and removed walls to expand spaces, also removed safety concerns in the old labs.

"Students will be very comfortable working in these labs," Glendening said. "The labs will be better equipped and safer."

Now that the old has gone and the new has come, ground breaking research will continue in the labs. That research ranges from understanding animal behavior in white-throated sparrow populations and examining single-celled organisms in deep-sea ecosystems to isolating novel compounds from poison frogs. Those labs also will be put into use during the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience, in which undergraduate students have the opportunity to work alongside professors to conduct experiments. The program, in its seventh year, will pay 30 undergraduate students to spend their summer break working in the labs gaining research experience.

That undergraduate experience that ISU gives to its undergraduates is one reason it received the NSF funding, Glendening said.

"We had to confirm with NSF that we are engaging our undergraduates in the labs," he said. "NSF will be looking for results, for student publications and presentations."

Photos:http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Other/Media-Services/Chemistry-Labs/i-mRfDnSz/0/L/030612chemlabrenovations-1044-L.jpg

http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Other/Media-Services/Chemistry-Labs/i-KRvRcXJ/0/L/030612chemlabrenovations-1045-L.jpg

http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Other/Media-Services/Chemistry-Labs/i-KRvRcXJ/0/L/030612chemlabrenovations-1045-L.jpgWork continues to finish research laboratories in the Science Building. ISU Photos/Tony Campbell

Contact: Eric Glendening, Indiana State University, chair of chemistry and physics, at 812-237-2235 or Eric.Glendening@indstate.edu

Writer: Jennifer Sicking, Indiana State University, assistant direct of media relations, at 812-237-7972 or Jennifer.Sicking@indstate.edu