College Receives Grant for New Flexible Science Laboratory

A new flexible biology laboratory will be installed in Dane 212 in time for the fall term with the support of a $20,000 grant from the Frank Stanley Beveridge Foundation of Jupiter, Fla., and in-kind donations from the Whitehead Institute and Arial Pharmaceuticals, which include 6 Eppendorf centrifuges and 253 cases of scientific materials, including glassware, reagents, and testing equipment.

Biology Professor Elizabeth Gardner said, “These donations will allow us to create a new type of science lab on campus. We will be able to use it for both science lecture courses and for experimental work as need dictates. It is an innovative way to provide the space to meet rigorous academic demands while conserving precious resources by renovating an existing classroom for multiple uses.”

The new approach was stimulated by the unprecedented growth in the sciences at PMC, particularly biology. Almost all science courses have run at full capacity for the past few years, and most have had waiting lists. Two collaborations have been established—with the William F. Connell School of Nursing at Boston College and the Marine Studies Consortium—and new initiatives have also been launched in the area of biomedical sciences.

In order to maximize use of existing classroom space, PMC developed a new type of design able to accommodate a variety of teaching demands. It uses laboratory desk pods instead of traditional benches so that students can work cooperatively on experiments and communicate with others during lab time, as well as take notes or view presentations during lectures. Computer-driven media equipment that will allow for presentations from mobile technology has been carefully sited so that each student can see materials presented during labs or lectures from any place in the room.

Initially the flexible laboratory will be used only as a “dry” lab (one in which hazardous materials are not used, although water and other liquids will be). However, the lab will have the infrastructure to allow its use to be expanded in the future. The lab will accommodate 20 students in groups of four at five pods. Ten microscopes will be available for student use, and the lab is completely wheelchair accessible.