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BHSU Life Sciences Laboratory
BHSU will host a ribbon cutting and open house for its new 26,000-square foot Life Sciences Laboratory Tuesday, Feb. 8 at 2 p.m. The building includes modern research facilities and high-quality science classrooms for the University’s growing number of science students and increasing number of faculty and undergraduate research projects.
BHSU biology student Justin Tibbitts demonstrates lab techniques
Justin Tibbitts (lab coat), senior biology and American Indian studies major from Hill City, demonstrates lab techniques in the new Life Sciences Laboratory while Jason Nies (green shirt), integrative genomics graduate student from Spearfish, BHSU President Kay Schallenkamp and Holly Downing, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at BHSU, observe.

A ribbon cutting and open house is planned Tuesday, Feb. 8 at 2 p.m. at the new Life Sciences Laboratory on the campus of Black Hills State University.

A brief program will be held with refreshments to follow. Tours of the building will be given during the open house.

The 26,000-square foot building, which is expected to receive a Silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, includes five chemistry and biology teaching laboratories, three research laboratories, 11 faculty offices, a conference room, a workroom, and a storage area. The building will also house the Center for the Conservation of Biological Resources (CCBR).

The building is needed to accommodate the growing number of science students at BHSU, which has increased over 300 percent the last two decades. BHSU has also made great strides in securing grant research funds, with nearly $6 million in research funding secured last year and nearly $43 million in grant funding over the last decade.

The modern research laboratories in this new building will provide high-quality science space for expanding faculty research and the innovative master’s degree program in Integrative Genomics. The facilities will also enhance experiential learning and research opportunities for students. The Life Sciences Laboratory at BHSU is part of a statewide effort to upgrade laboratories at all Regental universities and will be funded by student fees through bonding.

“The building improves and increases the lab space we have available for the growing number of students enrolled in science programs and the ever increasing number of faculty research projects. We will also use this space for University research centers (CCBR) and to maximize collaborations with visiting researchers conducting research at the DUSEL lab in Lead,” BHSU President Kay Schallenkamp says. “Most importantly the new Life Sciences Laboratory will enhance experiential learning opportunities for our students as they work with faculty mentors on research.”

Classroom laboratories with adjacent support rooms for equipment and preparations, more spacious design, and clustered work stations present opportunities for greater inquiry-based instruction along with collaborative, team-building activities considered best practice in science teaching.

The new science building will house chemistry and some biology programs, such as cellular and molecular biology, plant and animal physiology, and anatomy. CCBR (BHSU’s genetic and genomic research facility), a new Scanning Electron Microscope facility, autoclave and glassware washing area are located in the new building as well.

“The new Life Sciences Laboratory will be transformative for teaching and research in biology and chemistry at Black Hills State University,” Dr. Holly Downing, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, says. “The modern research laboratories along with supporting spaces for genomics and microbiology research, histology, scanning electron microscopy, glassware cleaning and chemical storage will raise the caliber of research significantly.”

Science at BHSU

BHSU offers the following science degrees:

  • Bachelor of Science in Biology, Chemistry, and Environmental Physical Science
  • Bachelor of Science in Education in Biology, Chemistry, Math and Science 
  • Minors in Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science, and Physics
  • BHSU also has a relatively new master’s degree in Integrative Genomics, an area of biological research that seeks to place the functional significance of an organism's many genes into an ecological and evolutionary context. Integrative Genomics is an interdisciplinary graduate program that combines genomics, ecology, evolution, and physiology to better understand the evolutionary forces that have shaped the mechanisms that are important to species interactions in the wild. Exposure to modern techniques and instrumentation in the laboratory and field prepare students for success in both academic and other biotechnology-related pursuits.
  • In recent years, BHSU has seen an increased interest in students pursuing pre-professional degrees in medicine, pharmacy, and other allied health careers.
  • A new degree currently under development, a Professional Science Master’s Degree in Science Entrepreneurship, will address workforce needs and promote technology-based economic development.