Extreme Lab Makeover for Civil and Environmental Engineers

Professor Heileen Hsu-Kim in her new lab space.

Research and teaching labs in the department of civil and environmental engineering (CEE) are getting a makeover. A portion of the basement of Hudson Hall is currently in the second of three phases of renovation designed to meet the growing needs of the group’s researchers and students.

“The new facilities provided by the renovation will help to make us more competitive with other institutions,” said professor David Schaad, assistant chair of the CEE department. “It will also provide the space to support a greater emphasis in the department on environmental engineering.”

The renovation began last summer with the remodeling of 1,550 square feet of research laboratory space and 350 square feet of teaching lab space. The second phase began in fall 2005 and includes another 1,850 square feet of

Post-doc Peter Ruiz-Haas and graduate student Chanlong Wu in the DNA analysis lab.

research laboratory space that complemented earlier renovations completed in 2002 to expand the research facilities of the department’s Chemical and Biological Processes Group, Schaad said.

Much of the new space is shared amongst faculty, graduate students and post-docs with common research needs. For example, the labs include dedicated facilities for chemistry and microbiology, including an environmental chamber, a clean room for DNA analysis, and biosafety hoods for work with pathogens.

Other facilities are dedicated to the work of faculty whose research has special requirements, including a metal-free

Professor Claudia Gunsch in her new lab space.

zone for assistant professor Heileen Hsu-Kim’s research on trace metals such as mercury. Assistant professor Claudia Gunsch also has a dedicated room, complete with large, specialized hoods capable of housing her experiments into the use of microbes for filtering volatile compounds, such as benzene and toluene, from the air.

“The great thing about the renovation from my perspective is the new capabilities for research it allows,” Gunsch said.

Others making use of the new lab space include associate professor Karl Linden, who studies the use of ultraviolet light for disinfecting water, and assistant professor Andrew Schuler, who studies biological wastewater treatment processes.

Re-construction of a lab that will ultimately house new faculty member Mark Wiesner is now underway.