The first time I saw the old teaching lab in Mudd, I was swabbing my nose for Staphylococcus aureus. Undergraduates in the microbiology course being taught in the lab had completed the same experiment a week prior. My friend, another grad student who was TAing for the course, told me about the results, which made me wonder if I was one of the unlucky third of people who has Staph lurking in my nostrils (as it turns out, I am.) When we went to the teaching lab to use the leftover materials to satisfy my curiosity, I was surprised by what I saw. The lab space, which is used by all biology undergraduates, hadn’t been renovated in decades. It was well-loved and it showed.
This January marked the completion of much-needed renovations to the department’s undergraduate teaching laboratory. The brand-new lab is clean, bright, and modern, with lab equipment tidily arranged, poised for its first use by eager undergraduates ready to get their gloved hands dirty. The extensive renovations include new lab benches, casework, flooring, lighting, and painting, as well as upgrades to the electrical and methane service.
Lars Dietrich, who teaches the undergraduate microbiology course in the teaching lab is excited about the new space. “For many of our biology undergraduate students, this is where they will have done most, if not all of their experimental work—real hands-on science—while at Columbia. It’s wonderful to have this space, which was designed to have an open feel and which will facilitate an interactive environment. I cannot wait to teach my first class there next Spring.”
Lili Yamasaki conducted her Intensive Laboratory in Biotechnology in the newly renovated lab in Summer 2021, but given COVID-related restrictions, the next three courses will be taught in Spring 2022. Until then, the black benches will remain pristine, shining in the light streaming into the lab from the windows overlooking Teacher’s College on 120th St.
By Paige Wilson