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New chemistry and biology buildings offer research opportunities

low angle view of four story chemistry building with light up molecules in front, portrait view
The new Chemistry Research Building, in the Science Mall on the southeast corner of campus, opened this semester, and is exclusive to chemistry research. (Julia Trowbridge | Collegian)

This semester, the new biology and chemistry buildings opened on the southeast corner of campus in the Science Mall, an area of campus where most of the natural sciences buildings are located.

“The buildings are meant to be modern, warm and welcoming,” said Melissa Reynolds, the associate dean for research for the College of Natural Sciences. “There’s multiple collaboratory spaces, sitting spaces and study rooms that encourage people to interact on a more regular basis.”


Although the buildings were created at the same time, both come from different sources of funding. While the Chemistry Research Building was a result of outgrowing infrastructure standpoints, the University saw the need for an expansion with the biology building, and student fees funded the project.

“Not only does biology house more than 1,400 undergraduate majors in biological science and zoology, but also some 60 percent of all CSU undergraduates will take a class in the department,” said Katie Courage, the director of college communications for the College of Natural Sciences. “It is a great space for anyone, whether or not they are studying biology or taking a class in the department, to come in, look around and find a spot to study or take a break.”

The Chemistry Research Building, which cost $55.4 million, had been in the works for many years. It was approved for funding a couple years ago and offers 60,000 total square feet for research, according to the program plans. Construction for the building started at the same time as the biology building, in November 2015.

“The laboratories have substantial improvements in water and energy usage,” said Chuck Henry, chair for the Department of Chemistry. “And, the building has a lot of natural light because of the windows, unlike the old chemistry building.”

Each building has special architectural features that make the buildings unique to CSU. The Chemistry Research Building has a copper wall hanging in the lobby, with signed names etched in, and the biology building has a ceremonial beam with green and gold signatures from the University administration, according to SOURCE.

The biology building has classrooms and teaching laboratories on the first floor, with the second through fourth floors holding research laboratories and faculty and graduate student offices, according to Courage. The laboratories are surrounded with glass, giving onlookers the opportunity to see what is going on in the research at CSU and allowing natural light into the laboratories.

low angle view of the new four story biology building, landscape shot
The new Biology building, located in the Science Mall on the southeast corner of campus, holds classrooms and teaching laboratories on the first floor, while the second through fourth floors are reserved for research. (Julia Trowbridge | Collegian)

In the Chemistry Research Building, the first two floors are for materials chemistry, broadly defined across synthetic chemistry; the third floor is for organic chemistry; and the fourth floor is for biological chemistry. Synthetic chemistry impacts society in a number of areas and is a particular strength of the CSU Chemistry Department, according to the program plans for the Chemistry Research building.

Both buildings are meant to be LEED gold certified, according to Henry and Courage. The certification is considered an achievement to the chemistry department due to the chemical waste needs of a research building.

“This is a big deal for the Chemistry (Research) Building,” Reynolds said. “The research building meets the energy needs for the research labs. It’s an important deal and contributes well to the University’s goal of sustainability.”


CSU students in the College of Natural Sciences seem to appreciate the new addition to the campus.

Austin Colter, a junior zoology major, appreciates the brighter, happier and cleaner space for his research.

“The biology building, among other new additions, I would say was pretty needed,” Colter said. “Now, instead of having the (biology and zoology) students scattered across campus for classes and labs, the new building will centralize that.”

The Science Mall, containing the Anatomy Zoology building, Microbiology building and Environmental Health buildings, is still expanding.

“If you walk by the two new science buildings now, you will see there is a new construction project underway just to the south- that is the new Health Education Outreach Center addition on the Anatomy and Zoology building,” Courage said.

The Biology and Chemistry buildings will have an official opening ceremony on Oct. 12 at 1:45 p.m. People from the University administration, alumni and student groups who voted for the addition of the new biology building will be in attendance. Tours of the buildings will be given afterwards.

“It’s an exciting time for the Natural Sciences College,” Reynolds said. “(These new buildings) provide more opportunities for research and involvement.”

Collegian reporter Julia Trowbridge can be reached at or on twitter @chapin_jules.

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