Tour of the Blandy Field Lab
At either end of the processing room are controlled environment rooms. This is a type of space that has been absent from Blandy for almost two decades. Many Blandy researchers raise insects that prefer temperatures either a little warmer or a little cooler than room temperature. These rooms have independent temperature controls that will allow them to be kept at optimal conditions for these projects. Associate Director Kyle Haynes and his graduate students have already moved their gypsy moth colony into one of the rooms.
The two main interior lab rooms are designed to facilitate most of the research that happens at Blandy. Each of these 600 square foot rooms is more spacious than all of the room combined in the old labs in the Quarters. The rooms will comfortably accommodate over 30 researchers. The rooms are filled with ample research bench space, shelves, electric outlets, and internet connectivity. These rooms contain the microscopes, the balances, lab glassware, and the analytical instruments that researchers need to convert their specimens into data. Floor-to-ceiling windows on the south walls fill each room with wonderful natural light, making it a comfortable and pleasing work environment.
Off the east end of one of these main labs are two smaller labs (100 square feet each). These were designed for visiting professors from the main campus in Charlottesville or other colleges and universities. These researchers often arrive with their own equipment and will appreciate the ability to set up their research in their own, well defined space. This summer, Dr. Patrick Crumrine (Rowan University) and Dr. Mary McKenna (Howard University) will be using these labs.
Off the west end of the other main lab is the fume hood room. This is the room where most of the chemistry in the lab will take place. Fume hoods protect researchers from the fumes of potentially dangerous chemicals. The old lab in the Quarters had a fume hood, but it was condemned about six years ago because it didn’t have sufficient airflow to keep researchers safe. As a consequence the type of research that we have been able to conduct at Blandy for the last several years has had serious limitations. This will all change this summer.
The west end of the building is a small conference room, again with a floor-to-ceiling window. The University has donated a table, around which we’ll be able to accommodate a dozen people – perfect for meetings with students or small meetings among members of the Blandy staff and FOSA.
The lab isn’t just about space, it’s about safety too. The building features a fire alarm system that automatically alerts the Boyce Volunteer Fire Company if there is a problem. The fume hood room features a sprinkler system, and all rooms have emergency lighting. The labs contain safety showers and eye washes, and each room has ADA accommodations. A very important feature is an emergency diesel generator that operates many of the critical circuits in the building. The generator has already kicked into action a half dozen times during brief power outages at Blandy this spring, ensuring that freezers stay cold and specimens that have taken weeks or months to collect stay properly preserved.
All of this wonderfully functional space is contained within the building’s simple but beautiful architecture that seems a perfect fit for the Blandy landscape. It’s a proud achievement that will serve generations of Blandy Farmers into the future. My thanks to the many people who made it happen, including help from the Dean’s Office (Dean Meredith Woo, Associate Dean for the Sciences Jim Galloway, Anna Towns, and Rick Myers), the Provost’s Office (Dick Minturn), the Office of the Architect (Luis Carrazana, Mary Hughes, and Helen Wilson), Facilities Management (Kate Meyer and Dave Paley), the architects at Train and Partners (Kirk Train, Tom Keogh, Juilianna von Zumbusch, and Amabel Shih), and our general contractor Lantz Construction (with special thanks to Bob Baer and Gerard Folio), all of their subcontractors, and the Blandy faculty and staff.