Science department to expand due to new grant

By Catharine Hernson
February 7, 2002

The National Science Foundation awarded a large grant to Cabrini’s biology department. The $84,176 grant was received by biology and chemistry department chair Dr. Sheryl Fuller-Espie on Jan. 15, 2002.

Fuller-Espie applied for the grant in June and had to endure the six-month wait to be notified if the application was approved. She was contacted in October for additional details and to include a budget for less expensive microscopes in the application. After the changes, Fuller-Espie had a good feeling that the grant would be approved but was worried that NSF would only supply a partial amount of the grant. Yet when notified of approval from NSF, the grant was funded in full.

The NSF grant is different from other types of grants; it is awarded with the knowledge that the college will match the donation. This is a cost sharing strategy that forces an institution to help its own department become better. Cabrini more than matched the NSF grant by $124,876, making the total amount $169, 052.

The money will be used to create a new major in the biology department, to be called Biotechnology. The new major was developed as an undergraduate laboratory-based program for the next stage in the post-genomic era. The field requires very specific, specialized laboratory equipment. The grant money will be used in both the chemistry and biology labs. Most of the equipment will be delivered to the new science building, scheduled to open in the fall of 2004.

The chemistry department will receive two new pieces of equipment that will utilize over half of the grant money. The new pieces are a high-performance liquid chromatograph and a gas chromatograph. These items will be used to further study the components of liquids and gases.

The biology department, though not getting the majority of the money, will be receiving a laundry list of new equipment. Much of the new instrumentation will be used in cell cultures. The department will obtain three new Laminar flow hoods, two inverted microscopes and two carbon dioxide incubators, all for use in cell culture research. Also the department will acquire an electroporator to study DNA.

Fuller-Espie is very excited about one purchase in particular. The departments will be buying a digital camera to fit to the microscopes. With the camera, students will be able to photograph their work and integrate it into lab reports.

The main function of the grant is to help the college as a whole. Right now the sciences are in a cramped area of the school, but soon they will move to a new building and have all new equipment. The new materials will, as Fuller-Espie says, “Hopefully create a wow factor for perspective students.”

The grant was applied for completely over the Internet through NSF Fast-lane. Students and faculty can all follow the progress of the department online as well at The site allows users to find out the most recent acquisitions and other uses of the grant money.Science News:

 New building; Fall 2004
 New major; Biotechnology
 Upgraded chemistry and biology equipment
 New digital camera to fit with the microscope

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Catharine Hernson

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