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College to break ground on new Science Center May 21

An architect's rendering of the new Science Center
An architect's rendering of the new Science Center

Connecticut College's science programs are known for their bright and inquisitive students, excellent faculty and remarkable research opportunities. They're about to get a building that's just as outstanding. The College will break ground May 21 - the Saturday of Commencement weekend - for a $20-million-plus, state-of-the-art Science Center at New London Hall that will open in the fall of 2012. The addition and renovations are funded by leadership gifts from the Sherman Fairchild Foundation and alumni through the Campaign for Connecticut College. With all-new labs and classrooms, a new greenhouse and precision-controlled systems for experiments, the new building will house the biology, botany and computer science programs.

It will anchor a science hub with the nearby F.W. Olin Science Center and Hale Laboratory. Faculty have been deeply involved in the planning and design of the building from the beginning. Martha Grossel, chair of the biology department, says it will give students and faculty the facilities and spaces that they need. Labs and classrooms will be connected and there will be social areas for faculty and students to talk, study and relax - making it easier for students to collaborate and solve problems with each other and with their professors. And that sharing of ideas and challenges is something students love to do, Grossel says.

"When they start talking to each other, they can't imagine why they can't do something," she says. That type of communication leads to research breakthroughs. Assistant Professor of Botany Rachel Spicer was drawn to Connecticut College from Harvard this year by our commitment to plant biology, the fantastic botanical-style plant collections in the greenhouse at New London Hall and the plans for the new Science Center. "To have access to a plant collection like this [and] greenhouse facilities for both teaching and research - it's really unprecedented for a small liberal arts college," she says. "It's a tremendous time to be a researcher here - and a student interested in plant biology." - By Barbara Nagy

April 27, 2011