Faculty and staff came back this fall to the opening of a new research space at the University of Minnesota Crookston.

    The Center for Collaborative Research opened on Tuesday, August 14 to an enthusiastic crowd of faculty and staff who had looked forward to its opening since the project received funding in fall 2017.

    The CCR is the first self-contained facility on the Crookston campus allowing work in analytical chemistry, microbiology, and molecular/cellular biology to be carried out from start to finish and support much-needed laboratory space vital to faculty research.

    “As we prepare to open the lab, we keep hearing from other universities that our collaborative research lab is “the lab of the future,”’ says Barbara Keinath, who recently stepped down from her role as vice chancellor of academic and student affairs but was instrumental in the development of the lab. “Creating something new like this collaborative research space also requires leadership, open minds, vision, and good people working together. We’ve had all of that.”

    Included in the lab’s equipment are a biological safety cabinet suitable for working with level 2 pathogens such as methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and for applications in cell culture and toxicology; gas chromatographer – mass spectrometer; an ion chromatography (IC) instrument designed to separate, identify, and quantify charged particles (or ions) in water (or aqueous) samples; rotary evaporator; and a total organic carbon analyzer.  

    Faculty members have been adapting their class syllabi to include experience using the new instruments for students, allowing the lab to have the greatest impact on undergraduates in the classroom and as part of research projects.

Background

    Countless hours have been spent by faculty designing a lab that would encourage collaboration and shared use of equipment. This laboratory will enable the training of even more undergraduate students, provide infrastructure support for submitting external grants and recruit faculty interested in pursuing research in an undergraduate setting. The project was one of 13 funded through the U of Minnesota’s 2017 Research Infrastructure Investment Program and will benefit scientists in the Agriculture and Natural Resources Department and the Math, Science and Technology Department at the U of M Crookston as well as the Northwest Research and Outreach Center (NWROC).

    The grant award from the Research Infrastructure Investment program and a match of the same from the University of Minnesota Crookston provided a total of $576,722 to convert and equip the space in 107 Sahlstrom Conference Center to the Center for Collaborative Research.