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David Bricker
University Communications

Last modified: Monday, January 25, 2010

New life science teaching labs open in Jordan Hall

Jan. 25, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Students returning from winter break this month found three new teaching laboratories in Indiana University Bloomington's Jordan Hall, built expressly for the purpose of providing practical laboratory experiences in the life sciences.

"We're excited, of course," said Clay Fuqua, Department of Biology's associate chair for facilities and research. "This is part of the larger, master plan for Jordan Hall, and for the university's broader life sciences efforts."

Lab student

Photo by Heather Brogden, Indiana University

Students will benefit from the new teaching labs' remodeling, which includes dozens of added bench positions and state-of-the-art equipment

Print-Quality Photo

The teaching labs replace and augment 3,700 square feet of outdated space. The new labs are more flexible and expansive, covering 5,300 square feet on two floors, each providing laboratory positions for 28-32 students and, of course, state-of-the-art technology, including improved incubation and cell growth facilities, ultralow freezers, water baths and centrifuges.

Each lab possesses a full battery of audio and visual technology for demonstrations, as well as full wireless access to the IU Network. Copious fume hood and biosafety cabinet space will allow more students to work safely with chemical and biological reagents. And floor-to-ceiling cabinets will allow the equipment for many different courses -- all using the same lab at different times -- to stow their equipment concurrently.

The new labs were actually built on two floors where the Life Science Library's book and journal stacks used to be. The books and journals had been crammed into three floors, but those holdings were moved off campus to the auxiliary library facility. The sunlit Life Sciences Library reading room still exists, as do reference terminals and staff, and current issues of the library's wide variety of biology, chemistry and medical periodicals.

The $2 million teaching labs project was funded by the College of Arts and Sciences. Its architects were the University Architects Office (Richard Thompson R.A., project team leader) with Indianapolis-based Arc-Design architects and planners. Tom Swafford from IU Space Management also provided advice. Meyer-Najem was the project's general contractor. Mussett-Nicholas and Associates were its engineers, and White River Mechanical was the project's engineering contractor.

Interior design was accomplished with advice from faculty and staff expected to teach in the labs. Building Manager Steve Todd and Facilities Coordinator John Heavilon also provided significant input.

Jordan Hall now houses four recently built or renovated labs -- the fourth underwent major renovation last year. Taken together, the most recent three labs provide nearly 100 bench spaces that can operate simultaneously.

The three labs will provide space for at least 15 lab sections each semester. Courses to be taught in the new spaces include the lab components of Virology, Honors Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Vertebrate and Invertebrate Zoology, Endocrinology, Entomology, and Ornithology .

Fuqua said former Biology Chair Jeffrey Palmer deserves a great deal of the credit for generating a plan to create new laboratories in the space formerly occupied by the library stacks, and that the plan was implemented and finalized by current Biology Chair Roger Innes.

Fuqua credited College Dean Bennett A. Bertenthal as a crucial force behind the Biology Department's ongoing mission to improve its facilities.

"We are very proud of our world-class Biology Department and want to ensure that faculty and students are provided with state-of-the-art laboratories," said Bertenthal, also a professor in the College's Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. "In the past, some students were relegated to learning in labs that had not been renovated in decades. The completion of these new labs represents an important step forward in providing the necessary infrastructure for 21st century biological research and education."

To speak with Fuqua or Bertenthal, please contact David Bricker, University Communications, at 812-856-9035 or