Biology Department - Facility & Equipment

Biology Department Facility & Equipment

Fort Lewis College opens Berndt Hall biology wing
New facility boasts contemporary labs

by Chuck Slothower
Herald Staff Writer

Saturday, February 20, 2010biology degree

Fort Lewis College unveiled the new biology wing at Berndt Hall on Friday, bringing to fruition a decade of planning, pleading and fundraising.The $17.9 million, 34,000-square-foot addition was constructed on time and under budget, said Steve Schwartz, vice president for finance and administration. Most of the funding came from Colorado's capital construction fund. “It's inspiring to be in a new facility because it makes you even more excited to do research with students," said Ginny Hutchins, a biology professor.

The new wing includes at least eight labs, and one is dedicated to student research. It features an herbarium full of plants. The wing uses recycled materials and is expected to use less energy and water than older buildings. College officials anticipate it will earn at least a “silver" LEED rating, an honor for environmentally friendly design. “This day and age, the way to attract high-quality students to your institution is to have start-of-the-art facilities for the sciences," college President Brad Bartel said.

biology laboratoryBartel said the new biology wing was FLC's contribution to pushing America closer to nations it has fallen behind in the sciences. The project, he said, “represents a national policy issue." The addition dwarfs Berndt Hall's original 12,500 square feet. It is three stories, up from the neighboring one-story original building. The top floor, occupied mainly by faculty offices, has views of the La Plata Mountains.

A $2.5 million federal grant helped stuff the wing with new lab equipment. “All of this ought to make the learning experience much more contemporary, much more advanced," said Joseph Ortega, a professor in the Department of Biology and Agriculture. Among those wandering the hallways was Taylor Boone, a senior majoring in sustainable agriculture. Boone said he would do some of his final projects at FLC in the new wing. "We wish we were here longer," he said.

FLC has 300 declared biology majors, 10 biology faculty members and two agriculture faculty members, who are considered part of the biology department. Sherell Byrd, chairwoman of Biology and Agriculture, said the department enrolls more Native American students than any other on campus.

Herbarium and Greenhouse

The Fort Lewis College Herbarium (Index Herbariorum Acronym: FLD) is a regional resource for vascular plants and fungi of southwestern Colorado and the Four Corners region.  The herbarium houses approximately 15,000 specimens and is particularly rich in species of the high elevation areas of the San Juan Mountains.

The herbarium serves two equally important goals 1) providing a physical record of plant diversity in the local region for scientific study and 2) providing a reference collection to assist in the teaching of Botany, Systematic Botany, and related courses at Fort Lewis College. 

Find information on volunteering or view the Fort Lewis Herbarium Collection.