ISU receives $1.5 million NSF grant to renovate labs

By: ISU Communications and Marketing Staff, ISU Communications and Marketing Staff
October 1, 2010

The National Science Foundation recently awarded a $1.5 million grant to Indiana State University to renovate seven research laboratories in the Science Building.

Eric Glendening, chair of chemistry and physics, said the NSF recognized the value of undergraduate research experiences provided by ISU faculty and the need to upgrade research facilities. The awarded funds are provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

"The Science Building is over 50 years old and the targeted lab space has never been renovated," Glendening said. "These labs are dungeon-like and are in poor condition after decades of use. They're no longer inviting environments that are likely to attract students to science."

Of the seven research labs, two are in chemistry, three in geology and three in biology. The ongoing research in the labs ranges from understanding animal behavior in white-throated sparrow populations and examining single-celled organisms in newly discovered deep-sea ecosystems to isolating novel compounds that show interesting biological activity from poison frogs.

Glendening also said that some of the old labs present significant safety concerns. Several have fume hoods, which remove flammable and corrosive chemical vapors, installed adjacent to the lab's only exit.

"A fire or explosion in a hood could prevent a researcher from quickly evacuating the lab,," he said.

Three of the labs were originally used for teaching and are not appropriately configured to support research.

"Spaces like these do not facilitate research," Glendening said. "They will be converted to modern research labs."

Demolition will begin in February. Each of the seven labs will be gutted, and some walls will be moved.

"Everything will be pulled out," Glendening said. "We'll start fresh."

Construction should be completed by early June, about the time summer research programs begin.

The project will be supervised by Glendening, Russ Stafford, chair of the department of earth and environmental systems, and Christopher Murphy, chair of the biology department.

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Other/Media-Services/Latimer-Research/DSC0307Latimer/656704576_trfco-D.jpg
Jennifer Latimer, assistant professor of geology, works in her research lab. Her lab is one of labs slated to be renovated.

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