Biology Department adds Boston Ave. facilities


The Department of Biology’s new space at 200 Boston Ave. is nearing the end of construction, offering faculty and students expanded space and capabilities for collaborative research.  

The overall construction on the fourth floor space is complete except for small renovations, such as the installation of new outlets, according to Michael Doire, research coordinator at the Advanced Technologies Laboratory in the new space. 

The new laboratories boast state-of-the-art equipment such as centrifuges and two new tissue culture rooms, he said. 

Though construction was previously scheduled for completion by the end of the summer, it will now be finished by the end of the fall 2012 semester, according to Juliet Fuhrman, associate professor and chair of the Department of Biology. Three faculty members moved into the facility over the summer, and seven more will over the course of the next month, she said. 

“The moving process is a struggle as we work to maintain strong connections with undergraduate and graduate students, but we want to get students excited about the potential for new research opportunities,” Fuhrman said.

The recently inaugurated Tufts Collaborative Cluster on Genome Structure and Developmental Patterning will utilize the new space, she added.

“The laboratory is for people who are directly collaborating around the themes of cognition and development,” she said. “The goal was to design a space that promotes collaborative research.” 

In addition to providing space for research projects, the new facility will hold graduate and higher-level undergraduate biology seminars, according to Fuhrman.

“We have invested an endless amount of planning to make people feel comfortable as they move in,” Fuhrman said. “Also, the space is flexible to expand and contract as research and collaboration moves forward.” 

Having an expanding department in the limited amount of space in Barnum Hall’s Dana Laboratory had been tough, according to Fuhrman. 

“Maintaining high quality research programs has been very difficult in the past 20 years,” she said. 

The new facilities not only offer an enhanced space for research but have also allowed the program to hire two new faculty members, according to Doire.

“There was certainly a mismatch in the growing number of faculty and amount of available space,” he said. 

Barry Trimmer, professor of biology and director of the Neuromechanics and Biomimetic Devices Laboratory, permanently relocated from the Dana Laboratory to the second floor of 200 Boston Ave. in January. He agreed that the limited lab space in Barnum was a hindrance to the growing department.

“It has been hard to carry out first-class research in the Barnum laboratory because there is no space for equipment, vibration problems and 3-D printing,” Trimmer said.

The faculty members contributed to the design and construction of the facility, Fuhrman noted.

“Throughout the summer, the faculty members attended long meetings and worked side-by-side with the construction company to maximize the overall utility and efficiency of the new space,” she said. 

The new facilities are designed to the standards of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification, according to Program Director for the Office of Sustainability (OOS) Tina Woolston. The Department of Biology consulted with the OOS during the design process to ensure that the standards of LEED Gold were met, Doire said.

Sophia Gordon Hall is the only other building on campus that meets the requirements for LEED gold, according to Woolston.

“While Somerville does not stipulate LEED regulations for new buildings, the prospect of having new facilities on the Tufts campus that meet the standards for LEED goal is a really great if students want to get involved in certification advocacy,” Woolston said.