New Science Research & Teaching Center

PSU's New Science Research & Teaching Center

Student enrollment in the sciences at PSU is booming, while faculty are advancing research programs in sustainability, nanotechnology, bioscience, health and more.

Together they contribute to science education, advanced research, and workforce development in healthcare, advanced manufacturing, biotech and high-tech industries.

These students and faculty now have an expanded and modernized facility for these pursuits: the Science Research & Teaching Center (SRTC), 1719 S.W. 10th Ave., Portland, Ore.

Built as "Science Building 2" back in 1971, the new SRTC has just completed a $46.5 million makeover, and is now greener, safer, bigger, and better.

Funding for the project, completed this year, came from state bonds, federal grants, economic stimulus, private foundations and many individual donors.

Read on about some of the new features.

Life at the extremes

Fish that thrive beneath Antarctica's polar ice. Acid-loving microbes inhabiting thermal vents at the ocean floor and blistering hot springs on land. The amazing killifish, emerging from suspended animation in mud when the rains arrive.

At earth's extremes, life gets a little weird.

And these weird adaptations are the focus of researchers in the new Center for Life in Extreme Environments labs. The 11,000-square-foot facility includes open lab spaces, classrooms, and offices to bring these researchers together.

Funding for this lab came from a $1.15M National Science Foundation grant. 

Health and life sciences

Science education at PSU helps students prepare for graduate careers in medicine, nursing, dentistry and other health fields. In fact, more than 4,000 pre-professional health care students take classes at PSU—many of whom will matriculate to Oregon Health & Science University or other medical schools. Other students may be pursuing careers as K-12 science teachers.

The good news: the labs and lecture spaces that serve these students seven days a week have gotten major upgrades. In addition to new fume hoods, the teaching labs feature new equipment, cabinets, counters, and lighting.

These include the Dave and Judy Osgood Anatomy and Physiology Lab, the ODS Health Anatomy and Physiology Lab, the James and Shirley Rippey Organic Chemistry Lab, and the Intel Environmental Science Teaching Lab.

Greener space

New fume hoods for labs might not seem like a big deal. But 175 new fume hoods will increase energy efficiency and environmental safety. In fact, these hoods will help the building reduce its energy by 30% ($300,000) annually.

Improvements also include seismic upgrades and improvements, new mechanical and heating systems, a new hazardous waste facility and more, as well as 50,000 square feet of additional space.

These efforts helped land the project a LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, while forming the foundation of a science center that will serve students for the next 40 years.

Seed banking

The new Rae Selling Berry Seed Bank for Rare and Endangered Plants of the Pacific Northwest creates a stronghold for the fight to preserve and restore our botanic heritage. It will also expand teaching and research of botany and environmental science.

The seed bank and laboratory creates a permanent home an unparalleled collection of 350 rare and endangered plant species of the Pacific Northwest, totaling some three million seeds.

This world-renowned collection was begun in 1938 by Rae Selling Berry of southwest Portland. Her private grounds ultimately became the public Berry Botanic Garden in 1981. The seed bank was begun in 1987.

When the Berry Botanical Garden closed in 2010, volunteers helped raise $1.8 million in donations, moving the collection to PSU, and preserving this legacy of conservation and education.

Student centered

The Science Research & Teaching Center serves students from biology, chemistry, environmental sciences, physics and other disciplines—many of the more than 2,000 science majors at PSU—as well as the thousands of students fulfilling general science requirements.

That puts students at the center of this renovated facility. The SRTC's main lobby features two floors of student study space, now lighter, brighter, and more comfortable.

Elsewhere, research and teaching areas now include more offices and meeting areas for the growing number of master's and Ph.D. students.