The crawfish and hermit crabs that call the Freeman Hall biology lab home have lots of company this summer.
On the other side of plastic sheeting hung in the hall to keep dust at bay, workers have gutted older facilities on the east side of the third floor, and are in the process of replacing them with state of the art new ones.
The construction, which will be completed in time for the start of the fall semester, encompasses six teaching laboratories, several prep laboratories, offices and storage spaces, the main corridor, and the stairwells.
While the labs on the west side of the 82-year-old building won’t be renovated until next summer, as part of this project, they are getting upgraded infrastructure and utilities, including improved ventilation.
Donna Heald, Ph.D., associate dean for science education, said the construction is part of a $10 million project aimed at upgrading all science facilities at Fordham over the next five years. It follows a similar, recently completed project in the chemistry labs.
“Science and technology are rapidly developing areas. To provide the best education to our students, we must provide opportunities to gain hands on laboratory experience in modern facilities, with modern instrumentation,” she said.
The layout of the new space will change too, with a central area set aside for preparation and instrument storage. This will make it easier to use the main labs for different subjects, as they won’t be dedicated to one particular subject. Interior windows have also been added, to allow viewing between labs.
“The great thing about interior windows in a science lab is that they allow all to see and be inspired by the lab activity. You may not be in the same physical perimeter, but it’s exciting because you see that there’s scientific exploration occurring in that space,” Heald said.
“So it’s helpful for the instructor, but it’s also very motivational for the student.”
In addition to biology, the computer science department is also seeing some physical changes, as space in John Mulcahy Hall is being expanded to accommodate research projects in robotics and cell phones. The push to renovate all the science facilities is especially important given that the number of incoming freshmen who intend to major in math, science or the pre-health program, is expected to top last years’ 300.
“Enrollment has been steadily increasing, so that’s a reason why I think it’s critically important that we’re moving forward on these renovations on multiple fronts,” Heald said.