Biology students and faculty make themselves at home in our two-story, 56,000 square foot building completed in 2008. The lower floor has state-of-the-art teaching facilities, and the upper floor is equipped with 15 modern research laboratories for faculty and students, as well as specialty equipment rooms.
The Barbara Bechtel Davies Lecture Hall seats up to 180 students and is equipped with state-of-the-art digital projection systems.
A student is purifying recombinant proteins in Dr. Douglas Weiser's lab as part of the undergraduate research program.
Sophisticated Lab Equipment
Our department is fully equipped with modern molecular and cellular biological research equipment used by faculty, undergraduate and graduate students. Hands-on training and experience with this instrumentation helps prepare students for graduate school and careers in science.
- Spinning-disk Confocal Microscope
- Nikon Fluorescence Microscope
- DNA Microarray Technology
- DNA Sequencer
- Scanning Electron Microscope
- Equipment Used in the Field
Spinning-disk Confocal Microscope
This specialized microscope is especially useful for obtaining a series of optical sections of a sample, which then can be reassembled to form a three-dimensional representation of a specific cellular structure. In her cancer research, Dr. Lisa Wrischnik has used this microscope to study the cellular localization and trafficking patterns of several cysteine proteases (enzymes) that are expressed in the human parasite Trichomonas vaginalis.
A graduate student uses the confocal microscope to monitor the sub-cellular localization of cysteine proteases that are tagged with different fluorescent markers.
Nikon Fluorescence Microscope
A fluorescent microscope is used to evaluate specimens by analyzing fluorescent light emitted from them. Fluorescent dyes or markers may be attached to the sample to illuminate a certain area of interest. This equipment is an important tool for cell biologists to study the localization and movement of proteins within the cell.
An undergraduate student studies the morphological features of proteins that form the cytoskeleton in mammalian cells.
DNA Microarray Technology
This equipment, consisting of a spotter, automated hybridization chamber and scanner, "prints" genes onto the surface of a glass slide—up to 50,000 genes can be deposited on a single slide. Dr. Craig Vierra and his students have used this robot to print the first spider DNA chips in the world. They are using these DNA chips to monitor changes in gene expression profiles in the silk-producing glands after forcibly removing silk fibers from spiders.
This scientific instrument is used to determine the order of the nucleotide bases in a molecule of DNA. Automated DNA sequencing has important applications in genomics and other biological research projects.
An undergraduate student learns how to operate an automated DNA sequencer to analyze 18S rDNA for evolutionary studies with bees.
Scanning Electron Microscope
A scanning electron microscope (SEM) allows specimens to be magnified at extremely high levels.
In the photograph below, a female black widow spider guards her egg sac. In order to visualize the components of the egg sac at higher resolution, scanning electron images (the two lower images) were obtained, showing the presence of two different diameter fibers within the egg sacs.
Equipment Used in the Field
Many research projects take place beyond the boundaries of the campus and require the use of technology outside the lab. For example, Dr. Stacy Luthy is using dual-frequency identification sonar, or DIDSON, to identify fish in murky delta waters.
Dr. Stacy Luthy and a graduate student set up the DIDSON at the Calaveras River, which runs through the Stockton campus, to study the ecology of the river.
Other equipment housed in the Biology Department includes a flow cytometer, real-time PCR (polymerase chain reaction) machines, and a protein concentrator, among other items.