BIMS faculty met last week with our VP in charge of facilities (Brad Poorman) and campus architect (Rick Weatherl) to discuss preliminary plans for this summer’s BIMS lab renovation. Mainly, the meeting was to determine whether the rough layout of spaces as proposed would accommodate the course and program needs.
The layout calls for two labs to fit in the space where the freshman biology, microbiology, and student research lab behind Dr.Beasley’s office are now located. Going into those spaces would be a molecular lab, the micro lab, and between them would be a student project room where the microscopes, incubators, refrigerators/freezers, and other equipment would be found. The intent is for this space to become the place students go to check their results and do off-hours work on projects. By moving these functions out of the labs themselves, students can do their follow-up work while other classes are in session in the labs. Since our courses are becoming more research oriented, this move will allow extended student involvement in research projects instead of corralling those activities into three hour blocks once a week. Labs will also be made more lecture-friendly so that both lab and lecture can take place in the same location – moving in and out of lab and lecture functions seamlessly will now be possible. More flexibility, more utility will result from these modifications.
Other first-floor spaces will also be affected. The prep area and S108 classroom (where Biology lectures are frequently taught) will house an upgraded prep area and an instrumentation room for our research microscopes, DNA sequencer, and other specialized equipment. The freshman lab will be moved to the current location for the molecular lab (S115), which will be expanded and feature more storage space. These changes will make the BIMS and freshman labs and support areas the showcase on campus for what all science facilities will some day feature – thoughtful, flexible, and student-friendly spaces for engaging students in learning and practicing science for the 21st Century.