UC Awarded Nearly $1.3 Million NSF Grant for Labs

Ursinus College is the recipient of a nearly $1.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation for the renovation of two labs in Thomas Hall, the life sciences building. The renovated facilities will foster student-faculty research by enabling more students to work collaboratively with faculty mentors on research projects in facilities that better support their research activities.

The renovation is part of a broader plan to re-envision and strengthen the sciences at Ursinus.

Thomas Hall

As a result of the $1,293,801 grant, two labs will be gutted and renovated for molecular and cellular biology research. The most significant proposed improvement will be the addition of a new environmental system for the two labs – rooms 110 and 212 — and their support spaces. An air handler will provide centralized, efficient temperature and humidity control for both labs.

Additionally, the labs will have countertops wrapping two walls, new islands in the center of the labs with additional storage, as well as sinks, overhead lighting and shades for sun control.

One research lab will be used by two groups of students that study C. elegans worms. Research in Dr. Rebecca Kohn’s lab focuses on understanding how release of neurotransmitters at synapses is controlled by the protein UNC-13 using the model organism, Caenorhabditis elegans. Research in Dr. Rebecca Lyczak’s laboratory aims to understand the regulation of centrosome positioning in establishing anterior-posterior polarity in the one-cell Caenorhabditis elegans embryo. In the second lab, Dr. Dale Cameron’s work focuses on the role of prion-like protein aggregation in the normal biology of the cell using the model organism, Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

In the C. elegans labs, the new spaces will allow for a series of genetic suppressor screens that could not be performed in the current space. Researchers in Dr. Cameron’s laboratory plan to carry out a series of experiments which will involve measuring the growth rates of mutant yeast strains at a range of temperatures, requiring multiple incubators and spectrophotometer operating simultaneously and in close proximity.