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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
540-483-5113
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Ferrum College unveils new scanning electron microscope 
New equipment purchased with Tobacco Commission funds
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Courtesy Photo: Ferrum College’s new electron microscope brings the School of Natural Sciences and Math to the forefront of education and research.

Monday, September 10, 2012

As Ferrum College students return to classes, some will see the world through a different lens -- thanks to a brand new $150,000 scanning electron microscope recently installed in Garber Hall, the college's home to math and science.

"The microscope is state of the art," said Jason Powell, dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. "The leading edge technologies incorporated in this piece of equipment will allow faculty to show students microscopic worlds that simply weren't feasible before at Ferrum. We can now prepare and examine specimens in minutes that once took days or even weeks." 

Purchased with funds from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission (TIC,) the electron microscope will be used primarily in the areas of materials characterization, cellular and molecular biology, plant disease, microbial ecology and microbiology, but it will also be used by students in agronomy and others who would benefit from a microscopic view of their work.

Faculty members received training on the microscope in August and are already using it. The device allows students to see 3-dimensional magnifications up to 1,000,000x, which is 10,000 times more than a conventional optical microscope, and analyze for chemical composition.

The new microscope is part of an extensive Garber Hall renovation project largely funded by the $375,636 TIC grant, as well as a second $383,612 grant from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation. Building improvements include the construction of a new classroom and two new laboratory spaces, and renovation of the microbiology laboratory, all of which crews hope to have ready for use by the end of October.

In addition to the microscope, other new technology purchases include a gas chromatograph mass spectrometer, liquid chromatograph mass spectrometer, CHN combustion autoanalyzer, and flow injection analyzer (purchased with an additional $25,000 grant from Appalachian Electric Power because of its use in the Water Quality Monitoring Program), all of which enable Ferrum students under faculty supervision access to state-of-the-art technologies related to their fields of study.

"The Garber Hall building improvements and new technology allow Ferrum College to continue providing our students with the best possible education in a small liberal arts environment where students work closely with their professors," said Powell.

 
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