Backgrounder: SFU Chemistry wing to get $50-million upgrade
Lee Gavel, facilities development, 778.782.4743; email@example.com
Andrew Bennet, chemistry chair, 778.782.4884; firstname.lastname@example.org
Carol Thorbes, PAMR, 778.782.3035
Simon Fraser University’s chemistry wing, built in 1965, will get a $49.4-million facelift over the next two years. The provincial government and Industry Canada’s Knowledge Infrastructure program will jointly fund the project.
The chemistry wing, which is housed in the Shrum Science Centre on the Burnaby campus, comprises classrooms and undergraduate and research labs, all built to a building code and science research standards that have changed dramatically over the past 40 years.
The project will involve refurbishing the wing’s exterior envelope, adding seismic bracing, removing waste materials, installing new heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, and upgrading mechanical and electrical systems. Lab areas will also be redesigned to modern design standards.
All of this will bring the facility up to modern — and green — standards.
Renewal of the 102,000-sq.-ft. facility, home to nearly 60 faculty and staff, will enable SFU to further its contributions to research and development in key areas of health and life sciences, environment, and information and communication technologies.
“We need to rapidly improve our infrastructure to keep pace with increasing demand, to ensure the continued safety of our community members, attract promising researchers, and produce highly skilled graduates,” says Andrew Bennet, chair of the chemistry department.
“In one year, our teaching labs in Shrum accommodate more than 2,200 undergraduate students,” notes Bennet, adding that another 1,100 are taught in the newer South Sciences building’s organic-chemistry labs. Sixty-one students graduated with a major in chemistry last year.
There are also approximately 50 graduate students and 10 post-doctoral fellows working in the Shrum chemistry wing.
SFU president Michael Stevenson said: "This renewal project will address pressing deferred maintenance problems in the university's original chemistry labs.
"It will enable SFU to maximize its potential to generate new knowledge and train the next generation of researchers in areas of key importance to Canada's Science and Technology strategy.
"We are grateful to the federal and provincial governments for their investment in the innovation pipeline.”
Construction is expected to begin in June. The department is working in collaboration with SFU Facilities Development to relocate both the undergraduate teaching laboratories and research infrastructure during the construction phase.
SFU Chemistry recently recruited four new chemists and houses several research “clusters”. These include a new medicinal chemistry facility where scientists are investigating promising new drugs; a fuel-cell research centre where investigators are developing more efficient fuel cells; and a chemical ecology centre where scientists are developing environmentally friendly insect control methodologies.
The department also operates state-of-the-art Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) and Mass Spectroscopy (MS) facilities that are utilized by top Canadian researchers and B.C. biotechnology companies.
SFU’s Chemistry department is building a high profile both nationally and internationally through its strategy to interface chemistry with other natural science. It has been extremely competitive in obtaining research funding, securing 17 per cent of SFU’s total research funding to date for this fiscal year.