Science building renovations benefit young scientists at Rider

Robert Leitner ’17

A multi-purpose classroom and laboratory in the Science and Technology Center has been outfitted with a new lecture area and workstations, as well as new equipment and facilities for experiments. The renovations and improvements are part of Rider University’s ambitious plan to renovate the first floor of the original 30,000-square foot science building.

The project comes as the University is experiencing tremendous growth in the sciences with an increase of students gravitating toward disciplines in STEM, or science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Science 124 is an 840 square-foot classroom and laboratory that features 16 seat laboratory bench and 16 seat desk/workspace. The new renovations allow professors to deliver curricula more effectively and students to enjoy a better learning experience.

"The layout of the new SCI-124 teaching lab is a tremendous improvement over the previous configuration," says Dr. Todd Weber, a professor of biology and behavioral neuroscience. "The open concept allows for a wide array of collaborative team-based laboratory exercises in neuroscience, animal physiology, animal behavioral psychology, and human anatomy and physiology."

Along the perimeter of the classroom are the wet areas — the hood, eyewash stations, sinks and gas access, in addition to new storage cabinets. Nearby, student workspaces were built with a centerpiece that rises to reveal access to power outlets, USB ports and Ethernet ports. The room is also larger, as storage areas were removed to make way for a more dynamic classroom.

"Having the lecture area in the same room allows us to move back and forth between large group discussion and small group projects that contribute to the training of our young scientists, often to continue in independent research projects on animal physiology and behavior with faculty," Weber says.

To align with Rider's ambitious sustainability goals, the renovation was done with the environment in mind. The room is illuminated by energy-saving LED lighting and outfitted with composite and recycled countertops, epoxy floors and a new energy efficient HVAC system.

"Rider science alumni, a considerable number of Rider faculty and friends really stepped up to the challenge of supporting the renovations of SCI-124," says Vice President of University Advancement Jonathan Meer. "Our hope is that alumni will continue to come forward to help us complete the project, which will include more laboratories and teaching spaces as well as second-floor renovations to faculty research areas and offices."

Four labs on the first floor still need to be renovated, and the Vice President of Facilities and University Operations Mike Reca is hopeful that they will be renovated during summer 2018.

“Improvements to Science 124 are an example of the types of standards we are setting for our labs,” Reca says. “We will continue to make classrooms and labs as functional and attractive as possible for our students and professors.”

Overall, the $2.1 million renovation project will impact about 1,000 students per year by enhancing their academic experiences through interior upgrades including new technology, lighting, seating and windows.

Previous upgrades to the science building include the newly created DiDonato Family Lecture Hall, a state-of-the-art space that benefits from natural light. This lecture hall, a gift from Dr. Bruce DiDonato '76 and his wife, Denise, seats 140 students and is one of the premiere classrooms at Rider.

For more information on making a gift to the renovation project and opportunities to name a lab or classroom, contact Caroline Cleaves, Associate Director for Major Gifts for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, at 609-896-5291.