Wittenberg Pioneers Use of Powerful Lab Tool Thanks to NSF Grant
Springfield, Ohio -- Labs at Wittenberg’s new Barbara Deer Kuss Science Center were the scene of a new national teaching alliance promoting the use of Flow Cytometers in the undergraduate biology curriculum.
A $58,000 matching grant from the National Science Foundation allowed Matthew Hanson, assistant professor of biology, to host a workshop to train college faculty from around the country in the use of the once prohibitively expensive equipment in the college curriculum.
Wittenberg is a charter member of the Consortium for Flow Cytometry Education along with San Jose State University and the University of St. Thomas (Minn.) which is committed to integrating the once $200,000 machine into everyday biology curricula.
Not long ago the Flow Cytometer could only be found at major research institutions. However, the cost of the instruments has dropped rapidly and used units are now more readily available.
The Flow Cytometer is ideal for Wittenberg students, where science learning is experiential - students learn by creative inquiry. The Flow Cytometer, when interfaced with a computer, can quickly distinguish between plant and animal cells, functions of organelles, dozens of types of white blood cells, and distinguish between normal and cancerous cells. Springfield’s Community Hospital donated the Flow Cytometer used by Wittenberg students. The NSF grant was partly used to upgrade the instrument.
“Wittenberg is unique as one of only a dozen universities of its size that has this technology,” said Hanson. “This is a perfect tool for Wittenberg students, who are well accustomed to hands-on learning in the classroom.”
Faculty comprising the new consortium, along with Wittenberg’s Hanson, are John Boothby and Ruthann Kibler of San Jose State, as well as Jill Manske, of the University of St. Thomas (Minn.).
Wittenberg has the opportunity to serve as a regional center of flow cytometry education at the undergraduate level. The fledgling consortium has applied for an additional $500,000 NSF grant to develop new member-colleges around the nation and to develop classroom and laboratory texts for wide use.