Equipment and Laboratories
The Biology Department has state-of-the-art equipment and laboratories to facilitate learning and research. Peter Eisenhauer, BCMB class of 2016 (right) uses a multi-color flow
cytometer (FACS) to analyze the expression of proteins on the surface of immune cells to understand how the autoimmune disease lupus responds to estrogens. Several recently-renovated labs include interaction spaces and are ADA compliant with lower benches. In addition to general laboratory equipment such as centrifuges, hoods, DNA and protein gel equipment, and light microscopes, the department houses several fluorescence microscopes (including a confocal fluorescence microscope), PCR machines, and a tissue culture facility.
We make use of several field sites within walking distance of the college. Hunsberger Woods is a 27-acre open space that includes a grassland, wooded area, two small ponds and a stream. Pictured right, Maria Abatuno, Emily Short, Sarah Polekoff and Professor Kate Goddard collect water-penny beetles from the Hunsberger stream as part of a research project investigating the population genetics of this low-mobility beetle. In addition to students conducting independent research, students enrolled in Freshwater Biology, Ornithology, and Insect Biology conduct field work at Hunsberger Woods. The site also offers walking trails for recreation.
The Perkiomen Creek, a 37 mile-long tributary of the Schuylkill River, is within easy walking distance of the college. The creek and surrounding areas serve as research sites for biology research students. Ryan Matty and Erin Walsh (right) collect diatoms from the creek to better understand the ecological drivers of their population cycles. Students also study the population dynamics of white-footed mice in the riparian areas that surround the creek. The Perkiomen Creek also offers opportunities for recreation, including the 19-mile Perkiomen Trail, which is great for biking, hiking and bird watching (the creek is home to several bald eagles!).
The Robert and Shurley Knaefler Whittaker Environmental Research Station (WERS) is a 10-acre property dedicated to environmental teaching and research. At WERS, UC faculty and students study sustainable land use practices that benefit suburban and agricultural environments. Nathan Simasek and Regan Dohn (right) samples crop pests to determine if intercropping (i.e., planting multiple crops in the same field) can be used to reduce pest problems and the need for insecticides that threaten environmental and human health.
The Ursinus College Organic Farm, which is operated under the direction of students and staff in the Office of Sustainability, provides biology students with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in small-production agriculture. Dean Scott (right) served as the manager of the UC Organic Farm and helped to bring produce to the Collegeville Farmers Market.
Research organisms are used to investigate biological processes at the molecular level. Marilyn Day (right) works with Dr. Jennifer Round in investigating the morphology of neurons during development in zebra fish. Students and faculty incorporate various research organisms such as C. elegans, yeast, bacteria, and sea urchins into their research and coursework. In addition to an automated zebra fish housing system we have a federally-regulated mouse facility.