It’s out with the old and in with the new! In place of the former stacks in the Jordan Hall Library are three new teaching labs. Each lab is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and equipment and offers more space than the antiquated labs previously located on the fourth floor of Jordan Hall. The labs opened in January 2010, and faculty, instructors, and students are ecstatic about the long overdue upgrades.
The teaching lab in the basement is primarily designed for virology and molecular biology labs. On the first floor are two new teaching labs, one designed for microbiology and the other for general biology labs, including entomology, endocrinology, ornithology, and zoology. The labs provide more efficient storage and prep space (with prep rooms adjacent to labs), floor-to-ceiling cabinets that allow multiple lab courses to store resources throughout the year, and biosafety cabinets that make working with viruses and bacteria safer for students. New equipment includes mammalian cell growth and incubation facilities, freezers, and centrifuges. These tools significantly expand the capacity for working with mammalian cell cultures, an essential tool of today’s pharmaceutical industry. Labs are equipped with wireless access and the latest audio/visual technology, which is a marked improvement over the old teaching labs that at times made it difficult to hear instructors.
Susan Hengeveld, instructor of L100 Humans and the Biological World and L376 Biology of Birds, noted that the layout has made it easier to use lab space, as labs are designed specifically for what is required for each course. She added, “A big bonus is the line of sight for the students — it is easy to see the board and do pre-lab lecture prior to the start of the lab.”
One of our goals is to not only offer great lab experiences for our undergraduates, but also to offer our lab courses to more students. Each lab holds up to 32 students, and a minimum of 30 lab sections can be held each academic year. Tuli Mukhopadhyay, assistant professor of biology, noted that her M435 Virology and Tissue Culture lab now accommodates 30 students, compared to 18 in the old lab space.
Biology received $2 million from the College of Arts and Sciences as part of a master plan to improve teaching and research facilities. The new teaching labs account for 5,300 square feet of roughly 20,000 square feet of planned renovations. Because library materials have become increasingly digitized and hard copies can be stored offsite with easy access at the Auxiliary Library Facility (ALF), it was determined that converting library space into new teaching lab space would be more beneficial to the department, students and the university’s commitment to life sciences.
Many people were instrumental in planning and executing the renovations, including former department Chair Jeffrey Palmer, current Chair Roger Innes, Clay Fuqua, associate chair for facilities and research, former College Dean Bennett I. Bertenthal, Richard Thompson from the University Architects Office and arcDESIGN, an architecture firm based in Indianapolis. Faculty, instructors, and staff also helped to design the labs.
In an IU press release earlier this year, Bertenthal, Rudy Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, said, “In the past, some students were relegated to learning in labs that had not been renovated in decades. The completion of these new labs represents an important step in providing the necessary infrastructure for 21st century biological research and education.”
The construction of these new teaching labs is only the first step towards a new infrastructure as a $9 million state-funded renovation of Jordan Hall is expected to commence later this summer. Renovation plans include construction of a new lecture hall, an additional teaching lab, and space for six faculty research labs. Greenhouses on the fifth floor, primarily used by biology researchers, will be upgraded as will other general operating necessities such as the roof and air handling system. Details of the renovation will be covered in future newsletters, so stay tuned!