Lab Module Rendering
A renovated Hall of Sciences interior rendering shows how lab and learning spaces flow together.

Imminent building upgrades will blend learning and research.

Lab rats (the human kind), rejoice: The first phase of the long-awaited renovation of the 45-year-old Hall of Sciences is scheduled to begin in January.

This summer the N.J. Legislature approved $6.8 million in grants for Drew, clearing the way for renovations, technology upgrades and a research annex.

“The things that happen within this building are wonderful. We have great faculty and great students, but because of its age the building is a bit of a hindrance,” said Kenneth Alexo Jr., vice president for university advancement.

State funding will be used to convert two first-floor biology labs into teaching labs for environmental science; renovate the psychology wing; create a new third-floor chemistry lab serving faculty, students and RISE Fellows; and build a research annex with a modern animal facility. Overall the building’s footprint will remain much the same, although the rear will be bumped out for the research annex.

Fundraising for the second phase of the modernization, a significant addition to the building, will continue. So far Drew has attracted nearly $7 million in private donations, the start of a major philanthropic effort needed to bring the sciences at Drew in line with peer institutions, according to Alexo.

Biology professor Roger Knowles said the structural changes will enrich science education at Drew by erasing barriers between learning and research: “We really need to blur those lines. We’re taking our teaching laboratories and turning them into mini-environments where students learn and explore and investigate.” —Mary Jo Patterson

Learn more in this Spring 2013 story.