Biological Sciences Building Opens

Biology Building
A new era in scientific learning and teaching is underway at Georgia Southern with last August’s opening of the $41.4 million Biological Sciences Building. In just two years, the woods at the corner of Old Register Road and Forest Drive were transformed into a state-of-the-art, 21st century teaching and research facility.

The 158,000 square-foot facility houses five active-learning classrooms, 10 teaching labs and 15 research labs for faculty and the more than 1,300 undergraduate and graduate biology students. The design encourages both collaborative and individual research projects.

“This space will help us turn students into scientists and inspire their imaginations and creativity,” said Steve Vives, Ph.D., chair of the Biology Department. “I think it’s great that the students are using the study tables and are hanging out in the building between classes. Our majors did not have this opportunity in the former biology building. I often see faculty and students talking and students studying together which was an emphasis of the building design. We’re very pleased with that outcome.”

The building also has a herbarium, specimen collections, a microscopy suite, animal care space, an aquatic lab, electronic display boards, a greenhouse and an insectary where insects can be raised and studied. The new herpetology and wet collections facility is home to two research collections (herpetology and ichthyology), plus teaching collections for herpetology, ichthyology, marine invertebrates and terrestrial invertebrates.

Lance McBrayer, Ph.D., the curator of the herpetology collection, said it contains at least 35,000 specimens, with the other collections adding approximately 2,000. “Several rare, threatened and endangered species are housed in the collections, including gopher tortoises, indigo snakes and flatwoods salamanders,” said McBrayer. “This facility is much larger and more centralized than former spaces, thereby making it much more useful and safer. In addition, the facility allows for room for growth in each collection and it has more bench space, which is now ventilated and thus safer for students and visiting researchers alike. In just about every way, this facility is light years ahead of our former space.”

The Biological Sciences Building will play an important role in educating the next generation of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) leaders. U.S. colleges and universities have a goal of graduating an additional one million STEM majors in the next decade. “The key to meeting this goal is retaining students and keeping them interested in the fields,” said Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics Martha Abell, Ph.D. “This building with its state-of-the-art teaching labs and technology-enabled and active-learning classrooms will support our efforts to produce more STEM graduates.”

The building has LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification for its environmentally efficient design to help lower costs for electricity and water. A large high definition video wall in the atrium displays a dashboard, which monitors and displays the water and power usage of the building along with air quality and room temperature.

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