This March the lab received a partial renovation, providing us with a dedicated space for insect husbandry, micro-dissection, micro-injection, and photomicroscopy. Our area for molecular biology had always been adjacent to an old “hot lab”–a room used for work with radioisotopes. However, when I arrived at Colby, no one had actually logged any use of radioisotopes since 2007. The room was full of old equipment and boxes, reams of dot-matrix printer paper, and of course all manner of lucite and lead containers. The biology department was generous enough to approve a complete overhaul of this room to its new purpose. (The Chemistry department still maintains an active hot lab, so thankfully this doesn’t limit any potential future research.)
The new space is quite beautiful. New under-cabinet lights reflect futuristically off the stainless bench top. We have space now for two microscope stations, for microinjection and dissection or photography. Half the bench space can still be used for changing cages and working with live bugs. We had previously crammed into a windowless room half the size shared by two other labs. Best of all the room will house an environmental chamber where we can provide space for bugs in controlled conditions right by our work space. Before the renovation the bugs had played musical chairs, moving from one room and incubator to another. Well, they have finally come home now!