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Local Foundation Community Supports Duquesne in Developing Public Bio Lab

The Fisher Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation, The Grable Foundation, an Anonymous Donor and BMe Community are investing another $312,500 in educational program development and scholarships at The Citizen Science Lab—pushing the total of foundation-funded investments to $612,500 to leverage an asset for the entire community. In-kind contributions from the Hillman Foundation and another Anonymous Donor have added another $303,000.

The grants support the work of Dr. Alan Seadler, Fritzky Chair in Duquesne University’s biotechnology program and associate provost for research and technology, and The Citizen Science Lab, a community life sciences laboratory launched in 2014 by Duquesne and economic development nonprofit Urban Innovation21.

The lab, located in the Energy Innovation Center, has scheduled weekend seminars for students since January and is offering weeklong summer camps through Friday, July 24 (www.thecitizensciencelab.org). Adult training starts with a five-day session on the microscopic world of gardening on Monday, Aug. 17. Making space accessible to entrepreneurs lies ahead.
The most recent grant funding supported:

  • A community wet lab, a hands-on laboratory that can be explored by the public, from middle schoolers to their grandparents and other members of the community
  • Need-based student scholarships and an educational module teaching life sciences concepts
  • An educational module that will teach techniques used in genetic modifications; students will make mushrooms glow in the dark.

“This hands-on approach will engage students in 21st century learning,” said D’Ann Swanson, senior program officer for The Grable Foundation. “The foundation was excited that students would use the same cutting-edge technology employed by ‘real-world’ scientists and researchers.”

Additionally, the Hillman Foundation has donated 10 microscopes and a second Anonymous Donor contributed equipment and lab supplies.

“These serious investments in Pittsburgh’s first community-based biotech lab illustrate these foundations’ continued interest in making a better Pittsburgh,” Seadler said. “They see the lab as bolstering Pittsburgh’s educational future by building life science skills in all young people, including those in disadvantaged communities. We want to create a bridge to the technology-based world, where more and more employment opportunities are developing.”

Exposing low-income students to advanced education and potential “new economy” careers and offering low-cost space to entrepreneurs for product development was important to the Anonymous Donor. The Buhl Foundation, a ground-level funder for the lab module, sees rich opportunities for the community and for private-public partnerships.

“It’s exciting that The Citizen Science Lab moves beyond engineering and math to biological and biotechnology areas, with implications for education, exploration and workforce development,” said Frederick W. Thieman, Buhl Foundation president.

For information on The Citizen Science Lab, visit www.thecitizensciencelab.org.

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 9,500 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.