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Assistant Dean, College Relations and Development
The College of Chemistry has long set the standard for groundbreaking science and outstanding teaching, resulting in consistently high rankings and an unparalleled international reputation.
The success and expertise of our faculty— and the potential for benefiting society— are attracting more students than ever to chemistry, chemical biology, and chemical and biomolecular engineering. Beyond its own majors, the College of Chemistry engages students across the campus. The majority of UC Berkeley undergraduates take at least one laboratory course in the college before graduation. This fact underscores the centrality of the chemical sciences and their role in society.
To embrace the teaching opportunities of the 21st century, and recognizing the key role chemistry plays in all of the molecular sciences, the College of Chemistry is launching a $30-million initiative to redesign and rebuild our undergraduate teaching laboratories — an infrastructure that has not been fully upgraded in 48 years. This plan integrates the development of new laboratory infrastructure with a complete rethinking of our curriculum and of the methods for delivering instruction and enhancing learning.
This $30-million initiative will:
These laboratory renovations and curriculum revisions will ensure that the
College of Chemistry remains a national role model for safe, sustainable, efficient, and inspiring laboratory education for decades to come.
Environmental sustainability is a cornerstone of our new laboratory design. In addition to ongoing efforts to minimize the use of harmful solvents and chemicals in laboratory experiments, we will install waste-stream monitoring to minimize the risk of accidental chemical disposal. New energy-efficient fume hoods and solid-state lighting will be used to decrease electrical consumption. These model laboratories are designed to motivate undergraduates and graduate student instructors to plan their lab work with strong environmental consciousness.
Students will learn about the principles of green chemistry in theory and in practice. They will be asked to calculate their waste-disposal and carbon-emission costs as part of their experimental reports. These green chemistry efforts will also serve as an effective recruiting tool, allowing Berkeley to continue to attract the best and most forward-thinking young scientists to our campus.
The use of new concepts and technology will position the college to fundamentally improve teaching and training.
Our new laboratories will feature a modular “blank slate” design that will allow us to adapt to changes in curriculum over the years. Lab experiments will be set up using pre-assembled “kits” that will be disseminated from central facilities. This design will allow students to select experiments that are most pertinent and interesting for their personal scientific interests. Movable carts with modern analytical instruments will be wheeled into labs for use as required. This modular design will reduce the overall number of instruments needed, thus lowering initial and replacement costs and enhancing utilization and access.
New seminar rooms will be constructed to enable pre-lab discussions, review sessions, and office hours. These new facilities will be clustered in a renovated centralized location — the Hildebrand Student Learning Center and Library — enhancing the sense of community among our students. Because students and faculty now access science information and academic journals online, rows of journal stacks have been removed and stored to make way for books, current periodicals, and instruction in Internet research. This shift will make space available for discussion rooms and study areas that are critical to successfully staging our Latimer laboratory renewal.
The Hildebrand Student Learning Center and Library renovations constitute Phase One of the project, which will enable us to separate laboratory and discussion activities. By shifting lectures and discussion to a much more effective and interactive seminar-room format, we will facilitate more efficient use of space and enhance instruction. This first phase will cost less than $2 million and can be completed in 2010.
The second phase of this project will be the renovation and renewal of the undergraduate teaching labs — totaling some 22,000 square feet. The college has 15 labs plus three associated instrument rooms primarily in Latimer Hall servicing lower-division courses. One-third of the labs will be renovated at a time, allowing us to maintain instructional capabilities during the construction process.
The College of Chemistry will be raising approximately $30 million to complete all aspects of this initiative. Recognizing the broad impact of the chemical sciences, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau has committed a minimum of $5 million in matching funds. To date, we have raised more than $500,000 against this match — nearly two-thirds from our own faculty, demonstrating their commitment to undergraduate education. This funding is being used to initiate the first phase of the project, the renovations for the Hildebrand Student Learning Center and Library. With your help, we can transform our undergraduate teaching labs to benefit generations of students studying molecular science at UC Berkeley.
Critically needed upgrades for the College of Chemistry instructional laboratories will have a significant impact on virtually all aspects of undergraduate science education at Berkeley. These upgrades will enable us to take advantage of modern technology to enhance and redefine chemical sciences instruction for the 21st century. This project will create a modern portal that will attract tomorrow’s leaders to the chemical sciences — sciences that are critical to the future of our health, energy, environment, and economy.