Upper Iowa University receives Carver Trust grant to equip cell and molecular biology teaching laboratory

FAYETTE, Iowa (March 26, 2015) – Upper Iowa University has been awarded a $100,000 grant by the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust that will provide for a “state-of-the-art cell and molecular biology teaching laboratory.”

“We are extremely grateful to the Carver Trust for funding this initiative,” said UIU President William R. Duffy.  “This new teaching laboratory will better serve our growing population of students interested in pursuing the increasing number of careers in the biological and health sciences. Regional demand in these industries continues to grow, and Upper Iowa University is well positioned to help supply these industries with well-rounded, highly trained graduates.” 

The major laboratory equipment items, which are expected to be in use on the UIU campus this fall, include a specialized incubator and working hood to culture and experiment with living cells and a fluorescent microscope that will reveal subcellular structures and function.  UIU students will be able to work with protein and DNA manipulation in the context of cell biology.

“These tools will be used to supplement and enrich current course offerings and open new avenues for student-led research in senior capstone projects,” said Rebecca Schmidt, assistant professor of biology, and one of the principal investigators for the grant. “The new equipment will build on our current faculty strengths in cell biology, genetics, biochemistry, cancer biology, microbiology, protein expression from cell culture, immunoassay development, and plant physiology, with multiple cross-disciplinary opportunities.  These tools will allow us to increase the both quality and quantity of research opportunities in an array of applications not previously available for Upper Iowa University students.”

Health science workers represent more than 300,000 jobs in Iowa, and in the last five years, Iowa has become a capital for bio-based chemical development. In addition, cell and molecular biology have applications to the historically strong employment areas in the upper Midwest as agriculture-related businesses grow and diversify.

William Jones, UIU assistant professor of biology and also a principal investigator for the grant, said the new lab will have meaningful benefits for UIU students and employers in the region. “Students will gain in-demand, hands-on skills, preparing them to make significant contributions to the region’s growing economy and bioscience-based industries upon graduation,” he added.  “The research opportunities enabled by the lab will better prepare students for rewarding careers in health professions, research, and clinical lab work; agribusiness research and development; and biotechnology industries, such as biofuels, biomaterials, and drug discovery.”

Schmidt and Jones said the capabilities of the lab will enrich a variety of UIU majors, especially ongoing partnerships in health and lab sciences such as those with the Mayo Clinic, Palmer Chiropractic College and Northwestern Health Sciences University.

For more information about UIU biology programs, visit www.uiu.edu/majors/biology.html.

About Upper Iowa University Founded in 1857, Upper Iowa University is a private, nonprofit university providing undergraduate and graduate degree programs to about 5,200 students–nationally and internationally–at its Fayette campus, 21 U.S. locations, as well as a location in Hong Kong. Upper Iowa University is a recognized innovator in offering accredited, quality programs through flexible, multiple delivery systems, including online and self-paced degree program. With a focus on developing leaders and lifelong learners, UIU provides dual enrollment programs for high school students as well as continuing education and professional development opportunities for learners of any age. For more information, visit uiu.edu.

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