New lab facilities support immersive, hands-on learning
When alumna Joan Archangel Yue entered one of the labs at the newly opened Parsons Science Pavilion at Immaculata University, she immediately realized how advanced it was from the labs on the ground floor of Villa Maria Hall that she used as a pre-med major in the late 1960s.
“It is truly like night and day,” Yue commented about the new building. “This is just incredible.”
Yue, along with more than 100 Immaculata students, alums, donors, faculty, staff and friends who attended the September 13 dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Parsons Science Pavilion, toured the high-tech, 16,000 sq. ft. facility that provides modern learning spaces dedicated to biology, anatomy, physiology, and ecology. Since all Immaculata undergraduate students are required to take a science course as part of the liberal arts core curriculum, the Parsons Science Pavilion will directly support immersive, hands-on learning in a modern, outcome-focused environment.
The Parsons Science Pavilion includes collaboration spaces, seven wet labs, and a state-of-the-art Anatomage Table that enables students to study anatomy and physiology through high-resolution 3-D images and compares to similar visualization systems used by leading medical schools. With access to these advanced tools, Immaculata students can virtually explore organ systems and conduct simulated cadaver dissections and can also explore the digital image library of human and animal bodies through an interactive, life-sized touch screen.
Deb Tischler, lab manager for Immaculata’s Department of Natural Sciences, says construction of the new facility was well planned and executed and accounted for student and instructor needs. “The students are loving it, and they are all excited to be the first to use it,” she said. “They’re going to go out in the world and be in situations to use these new machines, and now they will have first-hand experience with how to use them.” Tischler also noted that some schools of similar size to Immaculata, don’t have access to the types of equipment and facilities that are now generally available within the Parsons Science Pavilion.
Although the formal dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony took place September 13, students and faculty have been actively using the new facility since the semester began on August 29. Senior biology major Bridget McDonough, a featured speaker at the dedication ceremony, discussed how future students will benefit from learning in the new building and expressed the value of the education she has received from the faculty in the Natural Sciences Department.
“I believe that the professors that we have within this department are truly the best of the best,” McDonough said. “And combining their skills, knowledge and abilities with this new space and all the new technology within it will only enhance all these amazing things that being a science major at Immaculata entails.”
McDonough’s classmate, senior Dominic Tulio, who is a biology-chemistry major, shared McDonough’s sentiments. During his time at Immaculata, he completed an internship as a steppingstone to his pursuit of a doctorate degree in immunology or molecular biology. With his current classes held in the Parsons Science Pavilion, he spends much of his time in the chemistry and ecology labs gaining hands-on experience that complements the research he conducts with Kelly Orlando, Ph.D., associate professor of biology.
Addressing those in attendance at the dedication ceremony, Immaculata President Barbara Lettiere shared how the faculty and students deserved the new facility. She encouraged the students to learn, enjoy and do well, and encouraged the faculty to teach and inspire with the new resources.
With the building named in memory of Immaculata benefactors and supporters Donald and Elizabeth Parsons, Lettiere and Susan Arnold, vice president for university advancement, thanked the Parsons family and all other supporters for providing funding to construct and equip the space. “Because of the extremely generous donors who believe in equality in education for all students, the Immaculata faculty, staff and students are so grateful for and excited about the new Parsons Science Pavilion. Such a fabulous building, with all the bells and whistles, could not have become a reality without those who supported the campaign,” Arnold said.
Jerry Parsons, who represented the Parsons family at the ceremony, thanked the Immaculata community for the opportunity to honor his parents and the University. “They always loved being here and supporting Immaculata,” Parsons said.