Tuesday, April 22, 2014
- by Dr. John Schwenn
On two days in May you will have the opportunity to see the future of science education when we hold dedication and open house events celebrating the opening of our new science building, Shelby and Willena Peeples Hall.
The building is the first new academic building to open on our campus in 15 years, and it has dramatically changed the landscape of Dalton State. It is the biggest and tallest structure on our campus, soaring above even the bell tower. The three-story building is all gleaming glass and steel and brick. Positioned between the college creek and the college trail system, it brilliantly features expansive windows, taking in all the surrounding nature. It is a beautiful environment from which science students can learn more about the world around them.
According to Dr. Randall Griffus, Dean of the School of Science, Technology, and Mathematics, Peeples Hall will put Dalton State on a level playing field with just about any college or university in the state of Georgia. But the equipment inside will put us over the top.
Among the specialized pieces of equipment that will be installed in our new labs will be a nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer, a gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer and headspace sampler, a high performance liquid chromatograph, a scanning electron microscope, an automated fluorescence microscope system, a potentiostat, and a research grade fourier transform infrared spectrometer.
These words don’t mean much to those of us who are not scientists, but our biology and chemistry faculty members assure me that they will significantly enrich the educational experience of chemistry and biology students at Dalton State for many years to come. Although some of the equipment was purchased with state funds, most comes to us by private donation, and we are deeply grateful.
The sophisticated instrumentation will not only enhance the way our students learn in the classroom and laboratory, it will dramatically benefit our students who engage in undergraduate research.
This is an area of the college that is exploding in growth as our undergraduate biology and chemistry students have the opportunity to conduct meaningful research alongside faculty mentors who are experts in the field. The value of the research experience cannot be overstated, especially as students apply to graduate and professional schools and enter the world of work. This year alone, we have seen Faith Stokes’ research on the antibacterial properties of snake venom win first place honors at the Georgia Undergraduate Research Conference and earn her a spot at the Council for Undergraduate Research’s “Posters on the Hill” exhibition in Washington, DC. Another biology student, Cris Shelton, recently won best poster for his research on turtles at The Georgia Academy of Science’s annual meeting held at Georgia Regent’s University.
We believe the future of science education resides within the walls of Peeples Hall, and we invite you to come out and see for yourself. We extend a special invitation to all young students who have particular interest in biology or chemistry. We believe our facility will be the ideal environment from which to learn, discover, explore, observe, measure, quantify, and analyze the world around us. Thanks to support from the state and the generous philanthropy of a handful of individuals and organizations that care deeply about the future of this community, we believe we can offer an educational experience second to none, at a cost that keeps it accessible to all.
We hope you will join us at the dedication of Peeples Hall on Tuesday, May 7, at 2 p.m. or at our Open House on Sunday, May 18, from 2-4 p.m.
Dr. John O. Schwenn is the president of Dalton State College.