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National Science Foundation (NSF) to Fund Biology Lab Renovations

IUP has received $951,578 from the National Science Foundation to renovate biology laboratories in Carl S. Weyandt Hall, home to the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

The funds will be used to renovate and upgrade twelve spaces in Weyandt Hall that are used for student biology research and student research training activities.

The funds are part of the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

“We are very excited about receiving this funding from the National Science Foundation,” Mark Geletka, interim associate vice president for Facilities, said. Geletka serves as principal investigator for the NSF grant work.

“As budgets are stretched, finding funding for capital projects becomes ever more difficult.”

The project is divided into three segments, with the first segment scheduled to begin in March and conclude in December. A second segment will be completed in 2012, and the last segment in 2013, he said.

“The Department of Biology is very proud of the fact that we have received two significant infrastructure awards from the National Science Foundation,” Dr. Carl Luciano, Biology Department chair and proposal co-author, said. “National Science Foundation awards are very competitive, so to have repeat success in our efforts to secure this type of funding shows that we are on the right track in our efforts to provide opportunities for students.

“Our department stresses active learning through an emphasis on research and research training. We strongly believe that doing biology is the best way to learn biology, and these renovated spaces will directly support research-active faculty of the new generation and their students.”

Renovation projects range from minor upgrades to complete renovation, including utility and telecommunications improvements. Facility improvements also include a walk-in freezer, controlled environment growth facilities, a dedicated microscope room, sanitary cleanup facilities for field equipment, and upgrades to animal quarters.

“The proposed renovations and upgrades will support research of sufficient intellectual merit for publication in highly recognized international journals and will directly affect the research and learning experience of at least forty faculty and students per year,” Luciano said. “These new facilities also will have a direct impact on recruiting and retaining strong students interested in science and science education. Collectively, the package of proposed renovations will help us to address national and commonwealth goals for a technologically trained workforce and a scientifically literate population.”

The renovated areas also will provide opportunities for more in-depth analysis of research data already being gathered by Biology Department faculty members and students, including studies in wildlife biology, conservation biology, neurobiology, and environmental biology. Research in biology education is also an important component of this project and was singled out by National Science Foundation reviewers as “an obvious strength.”

Through the biology education component and outreach, kindergarten through twelfth-grade science teachers in Western Pennsylvania and their students will also benefit from this project.

Senior scientific personnel for the project are as follows:

Dr. William Brenneman and Luciano are helping to coordinate the project within the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and the Biology Department.