As 2020 draws to a close, the hope for many is that the new year will bring about many positive changes. This is certainly the case at BYU-Idaho, for both students and faculty members alike.
One of the many new changes to the campus will be a new biochemistry lab in the George S. Romney Science Building. This biochemistry lab will replace the more outdated labs throughout the Romney, and will provide new and improved laboratory opportunities for both Biology majors and Chemistry majors.
According to the department’s page on the BYU-I website, the purpose of the Department of Chemistry is “to provide a high-quality learning experience for all students who come from a variety of programs across campus.”
Mike Wood, the chemistry laboratory supervisor who runs the stock room for all of the chemistry labs in the building, said that in order to help students to have a high-quality learning experience, the means to help them get to that point have to be there.
“We have a more developed program for our majors that are chem majors and not bio-chem,” Wood said. “When the program got started, we didn’t have the equipment or the resources to provide a bio-chem lab, so we partnered with the Biology department.”
Wood said that while that has been “somewhat useful,” the strides the two departments have taken so far still don’t quite meet the needs of students. He also provided some history of the department’s attempts to update the equipment and resources the university has given to them so far.
“I believe there’s 17 full-time faculty,” Wood said. “All the bio-chem faculty have some say in what gets taught. We’ve been slowly ramping up our program for years. Around 2015, (Brian) Lemon put in a request for more bio-chem equipment, and we started getting the equipment in 2017.”
Brian Lemon is the Chemistry Department chair and said that the “project is still in the development phase.”
“Development of the lab has been delayed due to the campus’ COVID restrictions.” Lemon said.
Despite those obstacles, the new bio-chem lab is still anticipated to be fully installed during 2021. Instead of adding onto the building, an older chemistry lab, located directly across the hall from Wood’s stock room, will be replaced with the new one. David Collins, a chemistry professor, currently utilizes this lab for his classes.
“We don’t have a spot for our biochemistry lab,” Collins said. “We didn’t have enough laboratory offerings to prepare our biochemistry majors to work in a biochemistry lab. And so we’re finally developing our own biochemistry lab, which will be specifically available to our biochemistry majors.”
Until the new lab is completed and opened, students studying biochemistry will continue to conduct experiments and finish up final projects and assignments with the hopes of great new things to come in future years for both the college and their budding careers.