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Biggest Renovation Grant in DU History to Support Mellon Hall Lab Renovations

Duquesne University recently received the largest renovation grant in its history, a $1.6 million-plus award from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The grant—$1,692,880 over four years—will support updating research labs in Mellon Hall, many of which are original to the 42-year-old building.

“We are conducting basic scientific research in 2010 in a space that really wasn’t designed for research as it is done today,” said Dr. David W. Seybert, dean of the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences. “As one example, in 1968, scientific research didn’t rely on a lot of instrumentation; today’s research relies heavily upon instrumentation.”

The labs were selected for the stimulus funding award, in part, because the project was “shovel-ready,” said Seybert, principal investigator of the grant, with co-investigators Dr. Jeffry Madura, professor of chemistry and former chair, and Dr. Philip Auron, professor of biology and former chair.

“The NSF is investing in the nation’s research structure,” Seybert said. “When these opportunities occur, you have to be prepared and act swiftly.”

At another level, the grant also shows that the NSF supports the work being tackled at the University.

“With each submitted proposal, the NSF critically evaluates the scientific research and education in the Bayer School,” Seybert said. “Through this and similar awards, they are affirming the quality of research here and backing that with a commitment to invest in that vision. The award also says something about the potential economic impact and the future application of this technology in society.”

The major renovation work, which will begin before February, will be completed in phases according to a logistical plan that minimizes research disruptions during renovations. Everything inside the labs, from casework and hoods to plumbing and utilities, will be updated.

The first research labs to be reconstructed will be:

  • Those used primarily for organic chemistry research to develop more selective and efficient synthetic methods
  • Those used primarily for chemical analyses related to autism and environmental issues.

Other labs to be renovated are used for:

  • Studying the physiology and biochemistry of bacteria that transform metals and metalloids, including arsenic
  • Researching the genetic basis for DNA changes in primates
  • Developing new methods to separate and measure lipids
  • Chemical research of metal ions in biological systems
  • A shared autoclave facility supporting several research programs.

“The renovations will enhance all of the work in these labs and will enhance researchers’ ability to work more efficiently and safely,” Seybert said.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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