Bioengineering students in Walla Walla University’s School of Engineering are now actively learning in newly redesigned bioengineering labs to complement their studies in research and development. New equipment and renovations were made possible by generous support from WWU alumni and a $351,000 grant by the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust.
Over $700,000 was invested into the new laboratories. The School of Engineering has been able to use these funds to expand its bioengineering concentration and allow students to actively engage in sophisticated design and research initiatives. The spaces are now operational for research in biomaterials, bioprocessing, and tissue engineering—industries that have all experienced substantial growth in recent years.
Located in Chan Shun Pavilion, the redesigned space boasts laboratory equipment including centrifuges, laminar flow hoods, microscopes, a spectrophotometer, incubators, an autoclave, and a bioreactor. In the safe, sterile environment, students are able to work with living cells and test biomaterials. Students from a wide range of disciplines including biochemistry, mechanical and electrical engineering, and biology have access to the labs and are able to collaborate on research projects.
Abbie Underhill, a recent graduate from the School of Engineering, emphasized the importance of hands-on learning in the lab. “I had the opportunity to work with one of the professors, Dr. McKenzie, on summer research involving cell culture and 3D printing and electric spinning scaffolds,” said Underhill. “Being able to get this hands-on experience really peaked my interest and fueled my desire to pursue a more in-depth study of biological research.” Underhill now works at a biotechnology company, Scientific Bioprocessing Inc. (SBI), which has donated pilot equipment to the university for feedback.
Janice McKenzie, professor of bioengineering, said that the new laboratories are substantially improving the research she does with students. The laboratories offer students the chance to study topics not typically taught at the undergraduate level, such as aseptic mammalian cell culture, equipping them with skills highly sought after in the bioengineering industry.
Discover more about the bioengineering program at WWU at wallawalla.edu/engineering.
Posted May 10, 2023