Biology & Earth Science Department Facilities
Our faculty have diverse interests (and, therefore, equipment needs) that include projects at the molecular/cellular, whole-organism, and field levels. These projects include work with bacteria, plants, invertebrates (corals and mussels), amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, rocks/minerals, and water systems. Our department is located in the 104,939 square foot Science Center which opened in 2009. Each faculty member has individualized research space where students work collaboratively with their professors and learn the essential skills of becoming scientists. The teaching labs are equipped with the essentials like microscopes, pipettors, gel boxes, balances, incubators, dissection equipment, limnological equipment, and specimens (just to name a few things). We also have more specialized equipment in shared spaces and in the research labs, including the following.
- LI-COR Odyssey Fc for image capture and quantification of gels and blots.
- Life Technologies Step One Real Time PCR machine to examine gene expression patterns.
- Olympus BX-40 Phase-Fluorescence Microscope with digital image capture software used in recent publications of faculty-student research.
- Thermo Scientific NanoDrop OneC Microvolume Spectrophotometer for quantification of DNA and proteins.
- State-of-the-art Oxford Nanopore Minon and Flongle DNA and RNA sequencers.
- A custom built, 3.8GHz 24 core server with 128 GB of RAM for analysis of large genomic and ecological datasets.
Otterbein’s state-of-the-art Science Center opened in October 2009. Within the Science Center there are also more than 96,000 square feet of discipline-specific laboratories, research space and classrooms including a machine shop, electrical/electronic lab and a freshmen engineering lab.
The aviary is home to a flock of budgerigars (‘budgies’ for short), a small parrot native to Australia. They are highly social and can be found in huge flocks in the wild. At Otterbein, our budgies receive a variety of behavioral enrichment items to interact with in the aviary on a regular basis, and students in the Introduction to Zoo and Conservation Science class even create budgie enrichment and learn how to evaluate whether it’s effective. Budgerigars are excellent vocal learners, and they have been the subject of behavioral and vocal Honors and Distinction undergraduate research projects. Dr. Anna Young’s undergraduate research laboratory cares for the birds every day, which provides the student caretakers an opportunity to work as an animal care team and develop skills for their future careers.
Salt Water Aquariums
To support the Aquarium Track in the Zoo and Conservation Science program, the department houses two salt water aquarium systems. A 300 gallon tank visible in the hallway models the coral reef ecosystem with an expansive collection of hard and soft corals, shrimp, fish, sea urchins, anemones, and crabs. In addition to providing valuable educational opportunities, the natural beauty of the tank provides a favorite respite to take a break, observing and relaxing between classes.
The second system occupies the aquarium lab (Sci 112) where 10+ tanks are used by students to complete independent research projects, class laboratories, and to gain experience with aquatic life support. Students are always welcome to volunteer in the lab to help clean and feed the reef tanks. See Dr. Halard Lescinsky or the student aquarium coordinator is you are interested.
Otterbein’s Well Field
Otterbein has as a unique resource, an outdoor groundwater laboratory where students can gain first-hand experience collecting environmental samples and performing hydraulic evaluations of aquifers. In addition to Otterbein students, the lab has served as a training resource for Ohio EPA, and international delegations of groundwater scientists from Korea, China, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Haiti, as well as numerous organizations from the United States.
The greenhouse, which was built in 2009 by Rough Brothers, Inc. of Cincinnati, consists of two rooms for instruction and research given by generous donations from the family of Lou Ann Riseling ’56 and from Thomas C. Morrison ’63 and Sarah Morrison. The greenhouse is highly automated with a series of sensors and monitors that record conditions (e.g., temperature, sunlight, wind speed) in and outside the greenhouse and allow the greenhouse to adjust ridge and side vents, reflective shade cloths, exhaust fans, and high-pressure sodium light fixtures as required. The greenhouse provides a repository of plants used throughout the curriculum to illustrate such topics as plant evolution and diversity, genetics of polyploidy, and pollen tube growth and formation. Some recent independent class projects that have utilized the greenhouse include 1) exploring the effect of plant competition, soil microflora, and vermiculture on plant growth, 2) monitoring the rates of decomposition of hydrocarbons, and 3) addressing the toxicity of species in the genus Acer. In addition, the greenhouse provides a place to teach grafting and propagation of woody plant species in plant biology classes.
Outdoor Laboratory at The Point
Thanks to a generous gift from Coral Harris and Alan Goff, Otterbein faculty and students will have an outdoor laboratory to add to their curricular opportunities and experiences. The laboratory is located The Point (60 Collegeview). The lab will provide benchtop areas along with sinks and storage so that students working on projects in the Alum Creek and Otterbein Lake areas use the space to work with specimens and or samples. The design of the facility was intentionally made to accommodate as many different laboratory experiences as possible.