New Science Building To Open in July
By Furrah Qureshi
May 16, 2011 — The highly-anticipated Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building (PISB) is now in the final stages of development and is slated to open its doors in July 2011. Located at the intersection of 33rd and Chestnut Streets, this impressive landmark will serve students in biology courses, as well as organic chemistry and biomedical engineering labs. The building will offer much-needed lab space and will feature a four-story biowall in the atrium, which is the first of its kind in a US university. The facility will also be the first Silver LEED-certified building by the U.S. Green Building Council on Drexel’s campus.
The history of the biology department mirrors the quick rise of the PISB. In the past decade, the number of incoming biology majors has more than quadrupled, from 50 in 2001 to 261 in 2010. Unfortunately, the current campus offerings haven’t always met the needs of the proliferating science community. Biology majors almost unanimously agree more lab space and better resources are needed at Drexel. The PISB addresses students’ concerns head on and will offer eight teaching labs on the first two floors—that’s double the amount of space they currently have.
Neeraj Sebastian, a senior Biology major and member of the TriBeta Biological Honor Society, says that even though he will graduate before the building open, he still supports the initiative behind it.
“The PISB will reflect the needs of 21st century science,” Sebastian said. “It will make the Bio program so much more exciting because it brings both the students and faculty under one roof and will create a much stronger sense of community…The labs are designed in such a way that there will be more interaction among students and faculty and this will make students more aware of the research being conducted by the faculty, as well as make them more informed about their major.”
The biology department has also introduced a new curriculum to streamline and improve the Drexel experience for biology majors.
According to Dr. Aleister Saunders, associate head of biology, the new curriculum “addresses the fact that biology is a very broad field…and that different individuals have their own interests. It also gives students more free credits, which makes pursuing a minor easier.”
Sean Miller, a junior biology major, sees the PISB as a way to enhance research experiences at Drexel: “I am excited about biology research these days because the rate of technological advancement has led to novel scientific discoveries and the development of fields such as genomics and proteomics,” he said.
“These fields will continue to enhance our understanding of the world around us at the molecular level [and will] open up more opportunities for research and career paths for future scientists.”
Saunders explained the ways in which the most buzzed about aspect of the building, the biowall, will provide a boon for research.
“Even though it hasn't been built yet, certain aspects of the biowall have already become an active research project with undergraduate involvement,” Saunders said. “Drs. [Jacob] Russell, [Shivanthi] Anandan and [Michael] Waring are leading this initial project, but there is an enormous potential for further interdisciplinary research” he said.
Students and professors have already begun to incorporate the biowall into the biology curriculum: “The botanical and microbiological aspects of the biowall will become parts of a number of biology courses. The engineering aspects will become part of architectural engineering courses, [namely] Indoor Comfort Analysis and Indoor Air Quality,” said Saunders.
The biowall is only one of the PISB’s many unique features, which can be named by donating in honor of an alumnus/a, professor or family member. Faculty research labs, lounges, the auditorium and study areas can all be named as well. A more comprehensive list of naming opportunities can be found on the Office of Institutional Advancement website.
Click on the images below for a larger size.
Furrah Qureshi '15 is a B.S./M.S. student working on her degrees in English and Communication concurrently. She was previously the Editor-in-Chief of The Triangle. After graduation, she hopes to attend law school and pursue a career in litigation.