Washington, Pa. (Sept. 5, 2012) – Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) students and faculty are beginning the school year in a newly improved Dieter-Porter Life Sciences Building, which has undergone $7.8 million in renovations.
The 31-year-old building, named in honor of late W&J biology professors Dewey Dieter, Ph.D., and Homer Porter, Ph.D., houses the College’s biology and psychology departments. Renovations were made to increase the quality and safety of the building’s classrooms and research laboratories to increase opportunities for scientific research.
“We’re very excited about the renovations and the positive impact they will have on our program,” Alice Lee, Ph.D., professor and chair of biology at W&J, said. “The improvements made to our animal facility will allow students and faculty working with animals to more readily apply for federal funding and to publish the results. In addition, renovations were made to four research spaces so that students can work with faculty on projects ranging from molecular genetics to ecology.”
Classrooms and laboratories also were updated with learning technology and built-in projection systems to enhance the overall teaching experience. The green house was repaired to serve as a functional laboratory for the biology department’s plant collection and the ventilation, air-conditioning and electrical systems were replaced so that faculty can work with animal facilities year-round in a climate-controlled environment.
“We also were able to implement a fully research-based laboratory component in our first-semester biology class this fall, in part, because of renovations made to our biology laboratories,” Lee added.
W&J funded the renovations with support from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, the Richard King Mellon Foundation in Pittsburgh, and Range Resources in Canonsburg. Additional funding for four research spaces came from the College’s 2008 Undergraduate Science Education Grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
“The renovations made to Dieter-Porter allow us to maintain our strong record of graduating future physicians, which will be particularly beneficial to southwestern Pennsylvania,” President Tori Haring-Smith, Ph.D., said. “Doctors we train stay in the region, and faculty members working in Dieter-Porter attract significant funding to the region in support of top-notch science education.”
Dieter-Porter’s restoration follows the construction of the John A. Swanson Science Center in 2010, completing the College’s Science Initiative. More than a third of W&J students major in the sciences.