NSU’s Halmos College of Natural Science and Oceanography is planning on building a new biology research lab in the Parker Building. This new facility would serve as the replacement of the lab that was previously located in the Soken building, commonly known as Parker South Modular. The Soken building was removed to make room for the new NSU bookstore.
“Historically, we’ve been able to balance and use those teaching labs for occasional student research projects. The problem comes when the program is too big and very successful and those labs get used a lot,” said Christopher Blanar, assistant professor in the department of biological science.
According to Alex MacNamara, executive director of facilities management, “[The] Soken building was a building that was outdated. With the lab being moved to the Parker building, it’s going to allow for better use of the facilities.”
For the time being, the Parker Building has an existing research lab on the third floor, which was at one point being used by seven different faculty members, according to Blanar. The new lab is expected to be used to its maximum potential and equipped with the same features as other NSU labs so that more faculty members will have access to lab facilities.
“There was a point in which we had 12 students here and there was a lot going on, and as a result, we realized that the biology department needed more space,” said Blanar. “The chemistry department has a total of three available spaces (labs) in Parker Building alone, while the biology department had only two (labs), one of which was standing in the new bookstore.”
According to Blanar, the modular building was never intended to be a permanent space for labs.
“It was a weird space as well, doing triple duty as classroom space for both the university and the U school, research lab and teaching lab for us [the biology department] and for the physics department and also the home of the Special Olympics,” said Blanar.
The construction of the bookstore created a loss of about 50 percent of available space for the department of biological science, hurting the progress of a lot of faculty members’ research projects..
“In terms of dedicating a research program, where you have students work on something that may take months, where they really dig into meaningful questions, you need a space where you can set up gear and not worry about it,” Blanar said. “We [professors] all have active research, some of use have active research with undergraduates, a few with undergraduates and graduates students. This research is good; it has increased the amazing opportunities for the students.”
Construction on the lab began with the demolition of the adjunct office on the first floor.
MacNamara explained, “We got about 530 square feet, which includes the flooring, air vacuums, gas line, eyewash, shower station, etc. That’s what we are currently planning to do with space.”
Blanar explained that graduate students will also be able to use this space, and the type of research expected to be conducted will be organismal biology-focused.
“Our team has been working diligently to ensure on fast-tracking the project,” MacNamara stated. “We are currently waiting on the town of Davie to issue the permit [to start building the lab].”
Blanar added, “In my perspective it’s a great place. It’s on the ground floor which means that it will be really simple to wheel the samples that we have collected in the Everglades for example. It’s a really good setup.”
According to MacNamara, based on their current schedule and assuming that they get their permits as soon as possible, this new lab will be completed in about five to six weeks and will help double the research of professors as well as double the opportunities for undergraduates interested in research.