New science lab building is a necessity

Chemical Storage is an issue in the microbiology laboratory

Chemical Storage is an issue in the microbiology laboratory

This past week, I had the privilege of sitting in a legislative committee where the plans for the new science building were presented. I watched in amazement as Weber State University President Charles Wight, Alan Hall and Vice President Norman Tarbox gave a presentation that made me realize all the horror stories I have.

I have spent the last four years of my life as a College of Science student. I have been on every floor and had multiple laboratory classes on my native third floor for microbiology. I have had organic chemistry labs on the sixth floor and general chemistry labs on the fifth floor. What have I taken away from all this laboratory experience?

This college needs a new laboratory building. Here are a few of my experiences explaining why we need a new building:

On my first day of biochemistry lab, my professor, Edward Walker, told students that, if there was a fire, to head for the stairwells as fast as possible because the building will go up in flames quickly. The emergency showers were introduced with no drains, so if they were needed, the water would simply flood down into the fourth floor.

My cell culture class, which has been my favorite class at WSU, did not have its own aseptic laminar flow hoods, so we had to go share with the fourth floor (zoology) and couldn’t touch anything for fear of upsetting their department. If we have so many students, each college should have the necessary equipment to carry out laboratory functions in their own laboratory.

(photo by: elisa wright) A crack runs through the ceiling on the sixth floor.

(photo by: elisa wright) A crack runs through the ceiling on the sixth floor.

In general chemistry, I had to fill a beaker with 500 milliliters of water from the sink. I turned on the faucet and dark brown water came out.  I dumped out the beaker and tried again. I let the faucet run for 30 seconds and still got brown water. My experiment could not work with brown water, so that was a bust.

Last semester, my department got a new professor from Texas. With the new professor came all of his laboratory equipment. There was no room for his boxes and nowhere to unpack. He ended up storing his boxes in another professor’s laboratory, which decreased that space by half. There is no excuse for the spatial constraints placed on each department within the College of Science.

There are two study spaces available for students in the current science lab building. The first one is for physics majors and is not available for all majors to use. The second area is not a room, but simply a five-seat area on the fifth floor by the chemistry labs. If a student wants to quietly study, he or she must walk to the library. The computer labs have tables, but not enough space for all the students, and it can get very noisy.

Exposed pipes in the physics labs prove a safety risk.

Exposed pipes in the physics labs prove a safety risk.

As a senior, I will be sad to see the old science building go because of my four years of memories, but I am excited that future scientists will have the opportunity for a state-of-the-art science education. I am so glad that President Wight is optimistic about the legislative committee, and I hope that government officials make the right choice in funding this new building.

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Posted by on February 2, 2013. Filed under Columns, Opinion, Science, Science & Tech, Top Features. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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