The project will upgrade two floors of Pearce's labs and create an imaging facility, animal research space, and room for the molecular and cellular research.
Mary Baldwin College in Staunton is getting more than a million dollars from the federal stimulus to renovate its scientific research facilities. April Lao is an 18-year-old senior at Mary Baldwin College and loads up an electrophoresis gel from her corner lab space in Pearce Science Center.
Lao said, "We've been working with the l-37 peptide which binds to DNA." That binding causes your body to fight its own DNA. "That's how lupus and cystic fibrosis and psoriasis and those kinds of diseases come up," she said.
Lao's looking at how to stop that binding and for ways to prevent those diseases. Her research takes up table space in several classroom labs across Pearce. "I'm kind of spread out, so that will be good to have everything in one place and to have everything in each lab," Lao said.
But soon, a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation will give the 40-year-old Pearce Science Center a modernized makeover. The renovation will put student researchers working on the same projects side-by-side and bring faculty advisors closer to them.
Associate Professor of Biology Paul Deeble said, "It's really going to allow us to showcase research as a learning tool. It's going to allow us some dedicated research space. Right now, we have students in the back of our teaching labs."
The project will upgrade two floors of Pearce's labs and create an imaging facility, animal research space, and room for the molecular and cellular research like Lao's doing. Dean of College Catharine O'Connell said, "We really do believe that our work and the work that we'll be able to do because of this renovation grant will advance women in sciences tremendously."
The stimulus-funded construction should start at the end of this school year and finish by August 2012, and that's just the first phase. Mary Baldwin College is launching a fundraising campaign to complete a top-to-bottom renovation of the science center in the years ahead.