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GSU opens new biology building

Facility features high-tech labs, solar panels

GSU opens new biology building

GSU opens new biology building

Onlookers watch from every level of t...

State and local dignitaries, students and staff gathered Tuesday on the campus of Georgia Southern University for what President Brooks Keel declared a “truly historic day.”

In the morning hours, more than 100 people filled the new 158,000-square-foot Biological Sciences Building on Forest Drive for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially christen the science haven.

The $41.4 million, state-funded building is home to classrooms, laboratories and offices for faculty and undergraduate and graduate biology students.

“(The building) serves as the nexus where teaching and research converge to form south Georgia’s most comprehensive center for biological science and research,” Keel said. “The facility will not only allow us to meet our educational expectations and provide state-of-the-art training for the future workforce of this great state, but will also greatly enhance Georgia Southern’s research capabilities.”

The sleek, modern building replaces the Department of Biology’s former home, which was constructed in 1968, for a student population of fewer than 5,000. The older biology building will still be used for undergraduate biology classes, and other math and science courses.

The new three-story facility houses 10 teaching labs, 15 research labs, faculty offices, and classrooms modeled after those at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other leading research universities.

“Words cannot adequately express what this new building means to us. It was time for new digs,” said Dr. Stephen Vives, the chairman of the Department of Biology. “It is a great-looking building that combines beauty with function to allow for scientific research. We have laboratory space that encourages students, transforming them into scientists and inspiring imagination.”

Dr. Martha Abell, the interim dean of the College of Science and Mathematics, thinks the high-tech learning center will go a long way in accomplishing a university (and nationwide) goal to graduate more students in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“The key to meeting this goal is to retain the students who are on our campus and interested in this kind of study,” she said. “This building, with its state-of-the-art labs and technology, will definitely support the effort.”

The university’s Center for Sustainability will also be based in the new Biological Sciences Building, a fitting home.
The new academic building will be submitted for a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) “Gold” rating from the U.S. Green Building Council — its second-highest honor for buildings designed and constructed to be environmentally friendly.

Power for the Biological Sciences Building is supplemented by solar panels, and massive windows allow natural light to illuminate most offices and rooms. Some interior lighting is designed to turn off automatically when enough light enters from outside.

Construction of the building began in July 2011.

Money for the project was allocated in two state budgets.

State Sen. Jack Hill, R-Reidsville, whose District 4 boundaries include Bulloch County, attended Tuesday’s ceremony.
“This is a proud day for Georgia Southern and the Georgia Southern family,” said Hill, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “We have all known of the tremendous need for a new biology building for years as the university has grown.”

The building officially opened when the fall semester began at Georgia Southern last week.

Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.

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