Posted by: Date: August 23, 2010 In:

Enhanced teaching and research is the aim of Rieke renovation

Without scientific research, we’d still be battling smallpox. People with cancer would have no hope. And things we take for granted everyday, like the Internet and computers that fit into the palm of your hand, wouldn’t exist.
PLU plays an important role both in conducting scientific research and in preparing the scientists who will make tomorrow’s groundbreaking discoveries. Several PLU alumni have gone on to play key roles in the medical and scientific community, pursuing discoveries that make the world a safer, healthier and more compassionate place.

The home for science education at PLU is Rieke Science Center. The 88,500-square-foot facility anchors the university’s lower campus. Completed in 1985, the equipment, laboratories and classroom space now must be renovated to continue to serve the needs of PLU faculty and students, and, by extension, the world.

“Improving the efficiency and flexibility of these laboratory spaces increases the likelihood of significant collaboration with faculty members at area community colleges and involvement of underrepresented students, broadening the impact of science education in the Puget Sound region,” said Angelia Alexander, dean of the Natural Sciences Division.

To meet this need, PLU has launched a plan to invest $6 million to upgrade research and teaching space in Rieke.

The first $1 million toward this effort has been raised to purchase and install a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrometer in 2009. PLU is the only independent college in the Pacific Northwest to own equipment of this quality and sophistication, which is used to conduct cutting-edge chemistry experiments.

Additional renovation of Rieke is required to keep up with advances in how science is conducted and taught.


  • The method of teaching college-level science has shifted considerably toward research-rich academic programs supported by problem-solving situations in the classrooms and labs.
  • Incorporation of information technology and sophisticated laboratory instrumentation has mushroomed.
  • Science faculty members have implemented a senior capstone (i.e. a senior’s final project representing the knowledge gained in his or her discipline) for all students.
  • The expectation of faculty members to conduct research and to engage in student-faculty research has risen dramatically.
  • Best practices in laboratory safety are more rigorous and can be improved through the installation of new fume hoods and the expanded practice of green science. These new technologies also save significant amounts of energy.

The renovation plan will arrange laboratory benches, hoods and other spaces to accommodate the installation of new equipment and instruments. It will allow for a more efficient and user-friendly configuration of both new and existing equipment. Upgrades in teaching and laboratory space include:

  • Biology
  • Geosciences
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Computer Science-Computer Engineering

Student-faculty research will be greatly enhanced. Faculty will be able to mentor their teams of students more effectively and enable them to work with larger teams, providing a greater number of students with this important opportunity. In biology, chemistry and geosciences departments, the reorganization and expansion of laboratory space will increase capacity for students to take part in our highly successful student-faculty research program.

“To enable PLU faculty and students to reach their full potential, renovation of Rieke is an imperative,” said Alexander.

To learn more about investing in the renovation of Rieke Science Center, please contact the Office of Advancement at 800-826-0035 or visit