Mercyhurst dedicates state-of-the-art DNA lab

The Donald and Judith Alstadt Laboratory for Molecular and Cellular Research, a new state-of-the-art DNA lab situated in Zurn Hall at Mercyhurst College, will be formally dedicated on Tuesday, Feb. 1, at 11:30 a.m.

The lab, which opened in December, epitomizes a compelling commitment by Mercyhurst to further advance a science program that is experiencing radical growth across the board: students, faculty, facilities, curriculum and research.

Dr. James Adovasio, dean of the Zurn School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, described the new facility as “potentially one of the best DNA labs in the triangle area that includes Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Buffalo.” He said, “The opportunity for students to work on cutting-edge projects will play a pivotal role in recruiting topnotch science students at Mercyhurst and in securing grants to further advance the niche Mercyhurst has carved out in the sciences.”

The lab is named in honor of Erie businessman Donald Alstadt, chairman emeritus of the board and former chief executive officer of Lord Corporation; and his wife, Judith, a 1953 graduate of Mercyhurst who, for many years, taught elementary school in the Erie School District.

The Alstadts made a major gift to Mercyhurst during the Alden Science Challenge, one of the successful components of the Preserving the Legacy capital campaign.

Their gift was part of the $332,027 raised from 327 donors between November 2003 and June 30, 2004, to match the challenge issued by the George I. Alden Trust in Worcester, Mass. By meeting that match, the college received $100,000 from the Alden Trust. All of those gifts went toward getting quality equipment for the Zurn School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

The new lab serves as the showpiece of that fund-raising effort. It will provide biology and chemistry students, as well as students from other fields, the opportunity to use protocols in the processing, analysis, documentation and interpretation of a wide array of materials using state-of-the-art capabilities.

The lab will facilitate the extraction of human DNA in forensic applications, the extraction of plant DNA and myriad other applications at the cellular and molecular level that will complement the studies of environmental and organismal biology at Mercyhurst.
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