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.
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
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.
Scanning Electron Microscope
A scanning electron microscope (SEM) allows specimens to be magnified at extremely high levels. In order to visualize the components of the egg sac at higher resolution, scanning electron images (the two lower center and right images) were obtained, showing the presence of two different diameter fibers within the egg sacs. Lean more about Dr. Craig Vierra and his research on spider silk >>
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. Some recent research sites for students include Death Valley, the Marin Headlands, Monterrey County, and many other locales.
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.