Science Commons – University of Lethbridge

Science Commons – University of Lethbridge

October 12, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


Science Commons is a perfect, state-of-the-art, best science building you can find. It’s really exciting to have this in Lethbridge because now we are part of an elite group of
scientists making major breakthroughs. This is a space that is bright, it brings people together, it inspires, and it’s comparable to the best
research institutes in the world. It’s really something that encourages us to punch
above the line, to be even better, to do great science, make discoveries that will
really bring mankind forward in a state-of-the-art building that
facilitates this. What makes Science Commons so extraordinary is the manner in which the architecture and the facility has been structured to foster
research, teaching, collaborative space, public space, all in a domain that
actually brings together multidisciplinary researchers but also
the public and others at large. The new science building is providing us
with a permanent science outreach space which very few educational institutions
have. We have students coming in from the community that are now able to see not
only just one lab and one experience, but they get to learn and explore
everything this building has to offer in all the different labs and all
the research that’s going on here. Synbridge is a synthetic biology makerspace. We’re providing space and resources to students who want to become biotech
entrepreneurs, as well as industry partners who would like to collaborate
with researchers here on campus. It’s also a space where community groups can come and do synthetic biology. I will describe the research at the University
of Lethbridge as being at the forefront of bringing together inter- and
trans-disciplinary researchers to solve real problems facing Alberta and also
Canada at large. I’m convinced that the solutions we have to find for
today and for future challenges are solutions best found at the
interface of different disciplines, and so I’m super excited to finally
have these different disciplines in place together. Since neuroscience is
inherently trans-disciplinary –we bring together psychology, biology, biochemistry, physics and the like, having our Institute be immediately adjacent to all
our cognate disciplines makes our work far easier. It triggers new research
approaches and provides us with the state-of-the-art methods in the other
disciplines. There aren’t many opportunities in an architect’s career to build on a site like this. First and foremost, this idea of science
on display really informed the organization of the building. Making sure
that this building was sustainable was critically important to us on the design
team, but also to the students, to the faculty, everybody. But the way that we
have developed the building really looks to try and leverage the local climate
as much as we possibly can. Collectively, we’ve been able to reduce the energy
consumption of the building by about 50 per cent over a very similar building. This building will draw scientists to Lethbridge, in particular junior
scientists, graduate students, post-docs, and that will really ensure that we bring the
best minds to Lethbridge to conduct world-class research here. They will
learn to work in a state-of-the-art building and they will learn to work
collaboratively because this is really the philosophy of uLethbridge and this
building: to bring people together, to cross disciplinary boundaries and to
generate the best ideas. One of the most satisfying aspects of being a scientist
at the University of Lethbridge is to bring students, show them how to do
science, how to answer questions using the basic tools of science. Many of these
students have gone on to incredible independent careers of their own. A lot
of the research that we do has not been previously researched. The
ultimate goal of our research is to find a new anti-cancer compound. We’re the
only lab in Canada that has the capacity to test instruments that are destined
for the next space exploration missions. I hope that I’ll be able to apply the
research in order to solve the problem of Alzheimer’s disease and related
dementias. We’re enabling a view of our universe that no one else has ever
seen and that is really inspiring. I’m convinced that this facility is the best
facility for a research and science education in Canada. We’re now in a space where we have a much easier contact with our colleagues. There’s even a bit
of a buzz about being in a new building, and we see that especially with the
students. And that buzz turns out to be an energy that helps us with our
experiments. It’s just a beautiful building, and it’s a beautiful place to
think beautiful thoughts and that’s the kind of thing that could inspire people
to produce great science.