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UWF breaks ground on $27 million research lab

The University of West Florida Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering broke ground today on a Laboratory Sciences Annex, which will be connected to the Life Sciences Laboratory on the Pensacola campus to provide additional space for classroom and wet research lab needs.


“The University of West Florida is very grateful for the support of Governor Scott, the Board of Governors, and the Legislature for this facility,” said UWF President Martha D. Saunders. “I am especially thankful to our local delegation for their hard work over the last four years to secure the funding. This annex would not have been possible without their diligence on our behalf.”

A rendering of the new Lab Sciences Annex (Building 58C). (Caldwell Associates/Special to The Pulse)

The $26.26 million, state-of-the-art facility, comprising 52,790 gross square feet, is being designed by local architecture firm, Caldwell Associates, and Perkins+Will, a global firm with a specialty in higher education science and technology. Greenhut Construction Company is the general contractor.

The building will house 12 new teaching facilities for the University’s growing biology and chemistry programs, providing space for a steadily increasing number of students. More than 5,000 students were enrolled in biology and chemistry labs during the 2016-17 academic year, and over 2,400 students enrolled in the Fall 2017 semester. Based on this semester’s headcount, more than 1,000 students in biology, biomedical sciences, chemistry and marine biology will be able to utilize the new facility once it is completed in Summer 2019. In addition to space, the facility will provide necessary technology upgrades and continued enhancement of the high-quality, hands-on educational experiences provided to STEM students at UWF.

“We are very excited about the new biology and chemistry teaching laboratories and the impact they will have on the quality of the educational experience for STEM students at UWF,” said Dr. Michael Huggins, dean of the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering. “The Annex will allow for better engagement of students in a variety of laboratory experiences that will enhance student recruitment, retention and graduation rates.”

A rendering of the new Lab Sciences Annex (Building 58C). (Caldwell Associates/Special to The Pulse)

The Annex will also provide opportunities to expand research efforts currently underway in the college through the conversion of existing teaching labs into renovated research facilities. Science and engineering faculty receive more than $1 million each year in grants and contracts, providing STEM students with substantial hands-on experiences outside the traditional classroom setting so that they can be competitive in the 21st century workforce following graduation.

“Breaking ground on the Lab Sciences Annex is a substantial step forward into UWF’s next 50 years,” said Dr. George Ellenberg, provost and senior vice president. “The STEM disciplines will continue to play a central role in UWF’s future, because they are crucial to Northwest Florida’s future. The Annex will help address critical classroom, research and office needs for students, faculty and staff in the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering.”