State of Transition for Science Department

Elizabeth Helmkamp-Staff Writer

The construction of the new science wing has put the Science Department into a constant state of transition with high hopes for the future.

New Science Wing (copyright to Engineering Design Associates)

Dr. Channon Visscher, a chemistry professor, and Steven Bogaard, the natural science lab coordinator, both compared the transition to moving into a new house.

“Any time you have to completely unpack and then repack a lab, that always brings its own set of difficulties,” said Visscher. “My first impression, a month after having moved in, is I’ve really appreciated the thoughtful design of the space. It’s really efficient and it’s been a nice space to work in so far.”

Dr. Jelsma, a professor of Biology who was involved in organizing the move, said, “The science building was really was in bad need of an upgrade, just in terms of climate control and space and all that sort of stuff.”

Many natural science departments are still getting settled in.

“We still have a—we call it a punch-list—of items that need to be fixed yet,’” said Bogaard. “But, for the most part, it’s a functional lab; they’re incredible compared to what we used to have.”

Bogaard said that one of the difficulties of transitioning to a new building was finding where things are.

“I spend a lot of my time, even just for prepping a couple of chemistry labs, searching,” said Bogaard. “Where did we put this? And why is it there? Does it make sense? We have a ton more storage space than we used to in the old labs. Hopefully that does not mean accumulating junk… I will fight against that.”

On the other hand, extra storage space allows for new equipment.

“I really like our dedicated instrument room,” said Visscher. “We had an instrument room before, but it was pretty small, and it wasn’t really designed to handle a lot of instrumentation. To me that’s one of the more exciting rooms to step into, because it is full of all this great analytical equipment.”

One change is that floors are made of a different material than the tile they were made of last year.

“The only concern [with the upgrade] I had was the floors,” said Jelsma. “The floors are kind of rubberized, and so it’s supposed to be better on your feet; it’s more durable, but we’re finding that they look dirty very quickly.”

Bogaard agreed, noting his appreciation that the floors are smoother to roll carts over.

“We have the place, but we don’t quite feel at home yet,” said Jelsma. “So we’re still figuring out where everything goes and what we can do with everything, but that just takes time.”


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