Renovating, expanding science facilities includes upgrading research capability

Completion of new science facilities at SUNY Oswego may be a couple of years in the future, but state-of-the-art equipment planned for the new structure is already showing up next door as the college’s science faculty members continue their teaching and research.

Workers install new mass spectrometer in SUNY Oswego lab.A case in point is the SUNY Oswego Environmental Research Center in the chemistry department, which in March took delivery of a high-resolution mass spectrometer and is piloting features of the new science building—including durable, low-maintenance flooring and an environmentally friendly fume hood—in its temporary quarters in Snygg Hall.

Great Lakes research

The center is part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative’s Fish Monitoring and Surveillance Program, funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and spearheaded by Clarkson University. Oswego’s new mass spectrometer—one of only about 30 in the country—is a sophisticated analytical instrument that will allow the center to perform its role providing chemical analysis of Great Lakes fish tissue for the next five years.

Together with new equipment at Clarkson and SUNY Fredonia, this instrument gives the research team the ability to identify and quantify chemical pollutants at levels previously impossible to achieve. The study will improve understanding of how pollutants affect the fishery and help evaluate the success of efforts to clean up sources of pollutants.

Ongoing construction

The windows of Oswego’s Environmental Research Center lab now look out on a big construction site. The center was one of many science units moved out of the 48-year-old Piez Hall and into Snygg to make way for the construction and renovation work on Oswego’s new Science and Engineering Innovation Corridor.

Renovation of the now-vacant Piez and construction of an addition that will more than triple its present 80,000 square feet are scheduled for completion in 2013. The multiphase project, whose total costs have been estimated at $118 million, is being bonded through the SUNY Construction Fund.

Energy-efficient design

SUNY Oswego is constructing the new science facilities to the U.S. Green Building Council’s gold standard for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The energy-efficient design is already paying off with the new mass spectrometer.

The 5,000-pound instrument, with a 1,000-pound magnet at its center, generates heat while in operation, and the geothermal system created for the new building allows that heat to be circulated underground for cooling at much less energy expense than a traditional chiller, said John Moore, the college’s director of facilities, construction and sustainability. In winter, with the new system, the machine’s heat can go toward heating the building, he added.

So, the center’s environmental research is also especially environmentally friendly in this respect.

Moore noted that another opportunity to model and preview the new science facilities’ features will come as teaching labs are built in Snygg Hall for the college’s new bachelor’s degree program in electrical and computer engineering, which awaits final approval.

PHOTO CAPTION: Assembly required—Engineer Brian Cole, center, traveled from Texas to help install a high-resolution mass spectrometer in SUNY Oswego’s Environmental Research Center. Funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the sensitive instrument—one of only about 30 in the country—will help a team of Upstate New York university researchers monitor chemical contaminants in the five Great Lakes.

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(Posted: Mar 18, 2011)

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