Published April 17, 2015 on labdesignnews.com
In this month’s column for Lab Design News we explore new models for the undergraduate science research laboratory.
The increased pressure for undergraduates to gain research experience prior to graduate school has led to more students requesting participation in a laboratory environment throughout their undergraduate career. Undergraduate institutions are now faced with the challenge of finding an environment where faculty can succeed in their individual research endeavors as well as teach these future scientists in their research labs. Without the mentorship and guidance of graduate students and post-docs, undergraduate students rely on the close supervision of faculty members to advise and lead them through their first research laboratory experience. A proper physical environment that serves to foster this relationship is critical to the success of the student and the research initiative.
Undergraduate research laboratories first looked to emulate lab models found in graduate research settings. While these graduate research labs are scientifically rich environments, they may not provide the best support for undergraduate students. An alternate research lab model focusing on the undergraduate student could begin by improving the place where students work in the lab itself. Traditionally students would ‘write-up’ their lab data at individual desks directly adjacent to the research lab bench. While this relationship allows for easy oversight between experimentation, data gathering and analysis, it is limiting in the potential for collaboration with faculty and fellow students. Recently graduate research lab models have separated this write-up desk from the research bench with a ghost corridor to create a more defined dry lab zone within the lab. A step further included a glass separation wall which fully divided the write-up zone from the research lab. This setup allows students to analyze their data accompanied by food and drink which are banned from the lab itself.
Read the full article here.