Jones Hall Renovations Provide New Research Opportunities

Published on 11 February 2020

For years, St. Louis College of Pharmacy students, alumni, faculty and staff have passed through the brick pillars standing in front of the historic Jones Hall entrance. While the outside north entrance provides nostalgia for many, the inside has been adapted to meet the growing needs of the campus community.

The 1927 building has witnessed multiple new additions and construction projects, including a three-story addition and complete remodel in 2003. In recent months, the College has renovated and expanded the laboratory space in Jones Hall to better serve undergraduate, graduate and faculty research needs.

“Our recent renovations not only provide faculty researchers with a place to expand their research efforts, but also a place where our future graduate students will be able to conduct graduate-level research,” said Richard McCall, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Basic Sciences and professor of physics. “These upgrades give our undergraduate and future graduate students a place to advance their research skills beyond the classroom, gain new knowledge and press the frontier on scientific questions.”

Starting in fall 2021, the College will begin offering a Master of Science in Medicinal Chemistry and a Master of Science in Global Health and Equity. With the addition of new degree programs, the College has been expanding laboratories across campus in an effort to support research initiatives.

The more than 3,000-square-foot Jones Hall renovations provide undergraduate and graduate students additional opportunities to explore new research as well as expand upon existing research in the areas of biological sciences, chemistry and physics.

An area that was originally a part of the second floor library has been renovated to accommodate the hypergravity apparatus, atomic force microscope and machine shop in the Physics Research Lab.

The hypergravity apparatus allows researchers to examine how bacteria can grow differently in space by rotating in a way that mimics how the International Space Station orbits earth. Researchers can then use the atomic force microscope to examine the bacteria samples after they have been subjected to microgravity-like conditions.

Since the lab is also a teaching lab, students learn how to work with different metals, wood types and materials using high-precision tools housed in the new machine shop.

The addition of a Snake Vivarium in Jones Hall provides Benjamin Jellen, Ph.D., associate professor of bio sciences, with space to bring specimens to campus in order to examine the patterns of venomous copperhead snakes. The vivarium is currently undergoing proper environmental tests to ensure the temperature, humidity and air quality is habitable before the snakes are moved into their temporary observation home in spring 2020.

All of the bench space, lighting and electrical wiring has been upgraded to accommodate new equipment in the Microbiology Research Lab which was formerly home to the Pharmacy Practice Lab and Sterile Compounding Room. The lab’s proximity to the Department of Basic Sciences, Biochemistry Teaching Lab and Molecular Biology Genetics Lab allows students and faculty to access equipment and experiments quickly between classes and other research projects.

A new low-temperature freezer, designed to preserve biological samples for longer periods of time, has moved into the Biochemistry Research Lab. The lab’s existing chemical fume hood has been renovated to accommodate Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations to ensure flammable materials and acids are safely stored. 

A second chemical fume hood has been moved from the Academic and Research Building into the recently expanded Chemistry Research Lab. Department of Basic Sciences faculty researchers are partnering with the Center for Clinical Pharmacology to investigate new molecules and chemicals to aid in the study of drug design and pharmaceutics.

Part of the exploration of new molecules and chemicals involves computational work. The new Computational Research Lab provides students and researchers with a place to conduct calculations on chemical structures and reactions in order to predict what sort of chemical reactions might occur before conducting chemistry experiments in the lab.

Each lab is equipped with proximity card readers to ensure that only authorized researchers have access to chemicals, equipment and experiments and that all appropriate safety precautions are in place.

“We are excited to bring more students into the lab than ever before,” McCall said. “I look forward to seeing how these spaces in Jones Hall will provide new research opportunities for our faculty researchers and a place where they can educate undergraduate and graduate students on lab techniques and research methods.”

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