Chemistry and biology labs renewed after eight months of planning
The newly renovated chemistry and biology labs, costing just over two million dollars, have been completed on time and will be utilized by students starting in Fall 2017.
Peter Berg, Chair of Sciences had the idea to renovate the labs when he first came to Augustana in 2015. “From the moment I joined Augustana I knew that something had to be done about these labs and it was a call from the Federal government and specific funding,” said Berg.
“When the University of Alberta asked us if Augustana had any projects that would qualify for the funding we said yes, so the University applied and we got this one in April,” said Berg.
Berg said that they worked closely with the University of Alberta.
“They were very helpful, so after we got the funding, we had eight months to plan.”
The first part of planning was deciding which specific labs to renovate and the five that have the most significant impacts on students. “A third of our students will be in at least one of the two labs at some point, either Chemistry or Biology or both,” said Berg.
The renovations have transformed the labs. Berg said that they added windows upstairs to make the labs more transparent. “All five were completely gutted. Everything is new.”
Berg said that the old labs were not as energy efficient as the newly renovated labs. “ The new ones bring down the energy bill dramatically. You can also do a few things you couldn’t do before in term of experiments.”
The new labs have reorganized benches to allow for more group work, and the new layout can easily convert to research space. Berg said that it would also be easier for instructors to move around the room.
“It is a smarter design, so there is an improvement in safety. The labs will have the latest wireless and a higher capacity before it was not sufficient at all,” Berg said.
Berg said that it is important to emphasize that many students are being affected. “First-year biology is over 100 students, and they use the labs. There are also two sections of chemistry, so it is a huge percentage. It isn’t just one room affecting only 5 or 10 percent of the students,” Berg said.
Dean Allen Berger said that the lab renovations had been a long-term dream for Augustana. “It’s exciting to have state-of-the-art spaces for our students and faculty. But it’s also just a first step. We now need to begin planning for subsequent phases of lab and classroom renovations.”