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Science students get new cell culture lab


Students discuss cell culture lab equipment with a faculty member Tim Long (right) associate dean for research and international outreach with the College of Science, discusses the cell culture facilities' incubators and autoclave units with sophomore integrated science curriculum students Malcolm Vaughan, left, and Mark Brown, center.

BLACKSBURG, Va., Feb. 1, 2013 – Virginia Tech Senior Vice President and Provost Mark McNamee and College of Science Dean Lay Nam Chang, cut the ribbon Jan. 22 on what college officials consider to be one of the first cell culture labs in the United States specifically for undergraduate use.

The $900,000 project is part of the college’s Integrated Science Curriculum. The program began in 2011 with 11 students who work in teams across various science disciplines. “This curriculum is a model for high-value teaching,” McNamee said. “This is an innovative, forward-looking program that points to where science is going as a whole,” he said.

The new cell culture lab and two teaching labs are an essential step forward in the two-year-old curriculum. “These labs represent an initiative to teach science in its totality; by not separating it into specialties, but by concentrating in topics and issues to get a sense of what science is all about,” said Chang.

In 2011, the college took 11 students into the program and another 24 in 2012. The program is on pace to bring in nearly 50 in the fall of 2013. Students who take part in the program spend two years working in teams across a range of scientific fields including physics, biology, mathematics, and chemistry. These integrated programs help students understand fundamental principles in emerging technologies.

The College of Science at Virginia Tech gives students a comprehensive foundation in the scientific method. Outstanding faculty members teach courses and conduct research in biological sciences, chemistry, economics, geosciences, mathematics, physics, psychology, and statistics. The college offers programs in cutting-edge areas including, among others, those in energy and the environment, developmental science across the lifespan, infectious diseases, computational science, nanoscience, and neuroscience. The College of Science is dedicated to fostering a research-intensive environment that promotes scientific inquiry and outreach.

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