ASU builds more wet labs for science classes downtown

The University Center will be home to additional lab space this fall. Construction has begun on a
3,500-square-foot lab space, priced at $878,353. (Madeline Pado/DD)

Construction workers gutted out a third-floor suite in ASU’s University Center to give science and nutrition majors more options to meet the increasing requests of students for more lab space.

Richard Bauer, principal lecturer for the Downtown campus sciences department, said the lab in room 360 being renovated will be a multi-use wet lab and will accommodate many science courses, like microbiology, general biology and chemistry.

The lab will be constructed before the upcoming fall semester, Bauer said, and he is confident that the added lab courses offered downtown will complement many of the students’ needs.

The lab will be a standard design, said Bruce Jensen, the executive director of ASU’s capital programs management.

Director of University Space Planning Anne Gazzaniga said the 3,500-square-foot space for the lab was formerly used as office space. The rebuild also will allow 24 students as the maximum occupancy.

Jensen, whose department monitors all of ASU’s projects, said the project’s price tag is set at $878,353, which falls under the “classrooms and academic renovations” portion of ASU’s budget.

Originally, students requested for more lab space, and the Downtown campus student government supported their requests, helping the project take flight, Gazzaniga said.

School of Nutrition and Health Promotion Sen. Eneida Shqalsi said via email students were coming to her with complaints because of inadequate lab space and the limited required science classes offered at the Downtown campus last fall.

Shqalsi said she contacted ASU President Michael Crow but never heard a response. Eventually, she and fellow School of Nutrition and Health Promotion Sen. Rachel Cassinat passed along the information to USGD President Joseph Grossman, who took the reins and got things moving.

Daryl Traylor, an instructional specialist with the UCENT wet labs, said the new wet lab being renovated would get new equipment.

Traylor said UCENT has hired Olivia Zoph, another instructional specialist who started this month, to help with the additional wet lab.

“We built it in a way that will allow it for expansion for another science lab, so that the lab service area can share both of those functions,” Gazzaniga said. “It was designed so that you can easily add onto that space.”

Both wet labs in rooms 371 and 375 in the UCENT are multi-purpose classroom labs like the new lab being renovated, Traylor said.

Bauer said many of his department’s courses are in growing demand and need more space as new programs move to the Downtown campus.

The department has only one science-based lab course and the limited lab space downtown makes it difficult to schedule sections when the program moved in July 2011, said Christina Shepard, director of the Dietetic Internship Program and a senior lecturer.

She said the nutrition program has to request space, scheduling the program’s lab sections with the Letters and Sciences.

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Correction: July 18, 2012

An earlier version of this article said the cost of the wet labs’ construction would come from two portions of the school’s budget. The entire cost comes from ASU’s “classrooms and academic renovations” budget.