Redeemer has secured $400,000 in donations dedicated to the expansion and upgrades of its health and life sciences labs. The university is pursuing four initiatives within this larger renewal project: a new pathology research lab, a new aquatic toxicology lab, a renewed chemistry lab and an expanded human kinetics lab.
“It is exciting to see donors sharing the vision of a strong set of science programs that prepare students for work in environmental and human health, biochemistry and kinesiology — some of the fastest-growing fields of employment,” said Dr. Kyle Spyksma, acting vice president, academic and dean of sciences, “and areas in which we believe Redeemer students are equipped to make God-honouring, lasting impacts.”
Redeemer students will conduct new types of research with fish in the nearly complete aquatic toxicology lab. The lab will expand students’ learning opportunities beyond the invertebrates, like mussels, that Redeemer was previously able to keep. Honours students will use the dedicated lab space to work on independent research. Faculty, like Dr. Joel Klinck, will be able to continue to investigate the impact of toxins on the molecular structure of cells. The toxicology lab makes it possible to pursue unique projects on campus, and will help to secure funding for Redeemer’s molecular biology research — it’s difficult to qualify for grants without the equipment available to carry out the proposed study.
Dr. Darren Brouwer and Dr. Edward Berkelaar were able to continue to monitor pollution in the Chedoke Creek watershed, bringing on a dedicated, full-time research assistant to work in the updated chemistry lab. Their students were able to spark chemical reactions and then seamlessly explore the resulting chemical structures with equipment, like the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and infrared (IR) spectrometers, all within one space. Senior Chemistry, Biochemistry and Environmental Science students have their own bench space and the equipment to run their final year research projects. The former lab was nearly 30 years old, and so an update to its layout and equipment was much needed.
“Although the chemistry lab updates have not yet been entirely completed, the renovated lab space has already been put to use in our teaching and research this semester,” said Dr. Darren Brouwer, associate professor of chemistry. “We are very excited about the possibilities that this new space will open up, especially in giving students access to sophisticated chemistry and biochemistry instrumentation in their courses, senior research projects and summer research experiences.”
Students and faculty will also safely and professionally study bacteria and viruses and the response of immune systems to them in the pathogen research lab, Redeemer’s first to meet biosafety level 2 requirements. When the lab is complete in the 2018-19 academic year, students will make use of its equipment in a hands-on learning environment for innovative biochemistry and microbiology courses. Redeemer students are learning experientially, too, in the human kinetics lab — particularly as the university’s programs in the health sciences grow. Students and faculty will take on increasingly sophisticated monitoring of the impacts of aging, blood flow and physical activity, as Redeemer invests in comprehensive biomeasurement systems.
The lab renewal project complements the university’s 2020 Strategic Plan — both will ensure that Redeemer’s education remains relevant for the next generation of Christian students. Through the 2020 Plan, Redeemer recently launched the Centre for Experiential Learning and Careers and has strengthened its Core curriculum. The Health Sciences program has seen a parallel revamp with the launch of Pre-Medicine and Professional streams, preparing students for the MCAT and for careers from dentistry to midwifery.
“Just as students are challenged by the new Core to find their calling, these newly renovated spaces will give students experiences with an expanded range of equipment and techniques,” Spyksma reflected, “preparing them for advanced research opportunities in their programs as well as for postgraduate studies and jobs that lead them further towards that calling.”