The Elton B. Stephens Science Center
Science on Display
Students learn best by doing, and students at Birmingham-Southern actively participate in their science education. This approach to learning is facilitated by every aspect of the Stephens Science Center, including a three-story atrium that puts "science on display" in laboratories that open onto a common area. The Elton B. Stephens Science Center houses the disciplines of biology, chemistry, physics, and experimental psychology.
The 100,000 square-foot, $24.1 million Stephens Science Center is among the largest and most extensive such facilities on a college campus of this size in the country. Arthur J. Lidsky, a facilities planning consultant who has participated in the review and design of science facilities across the nation including at Georgia Institute of Technology and Northwestern University, among others, called the Stephens Science Center "... one of the finest examples of undergraduate science buildings in the country."
At the heart of the building is a three-story atrium providing a space for social and intellectual interdisciplinary interactions and putting science on display.
The center anchors a new academic quadrangle, with the Stockham Building, Berte Humanities Center, and Munger Hall. Stockham and Munger are on the National Historic Registry.
Among the many features of the science center are:
- the most current technology in classrooms, laboratories, and support areas for biology, chemistry, physics, psychology, and environmental science;
- a design that enhances collaboration between students and faculty using a "hands-on" approach and that fosters interdisciplinary connections and undergraduate research opportunities;
- a flexible design that can be reconfigured to accommodate changing laboratory and space needs, existing and future teaching methods, new technologies, and new disciplines; and
- computer technology-assisted teaching in the classrooms and data acquisition in the laboratories.
The facilities for the Department of Biology housed in the center include eleven teaching laboratories, nine research laboratories for collaborative student-faculty research, an interdisciplinary environmental studies laboratory, a greenhouse, a zoological museum/herbarium, a radioisotope laboratory, and other equipment, preparatory, and support rooms.
The facilities for the Department of Chemistry include six teaching laboratories, five research laboratories for collaborative student-faculty research, chemical and glassware storage rooms, and other equipment, preparatory, and support rooms.
The facilities for the Department of Physics include three teaching laboratories, three research laboratories for collaborative student-faculty research, and other equipment, preparatory, and support rooms.
Facilities shared among the science disciplines include a laser lab, machine shop, and photographic darkroom, along with lecture, class, computer, conference, study and seminar rooms.
The first floor houses introductory teaching laboratories and support rooms for biology and environmental science; the museum/herbarium; introductory, advanced, and research laboratories and support rooms for physics; three lecture halls; and offices for physics faculty and the Secretary for Science and Mathematics.
The second floor houses advanced and research laboratories, support rooms, and offices for biology, a classroom and a computer room.
The third floor houses introductory, advanced, and research laboratories, support rooms, and offices for chemistry, classrooms, a study room, a seminar room, and a conference room.
The ground floor houses teaching and research laboratories, offices, and support spaces for psychology, as well as an animal facility.
Current research and teaching equipment for biology and chemistry which is accessible to all undergraduate students, includes electrophoresis, blotting, and drying units, hybridization oven and uv crosslinker, spectrophotometers, microtitre plate readers, diode-array UV-Vis spectrophotometers, PCR/thermocycler equipment, liquid scintillation counters, lyophilizer and speed-vac, high speed centrifuges, ultracentrifuges, ultracold freezer, phase-contrast microscope, inverted microscopes, fluorescent microscope, controlled-atmosphere incubators, biological safety cabinets, HPLC, vapor pressure osmometers, impedence meters, oxygen sensors, as well as a range of ancillary equipment including balances, pipetters, pH meters, constant temperature baths, shaker baths, microcentrifuges, and water purification systems. The College provides each faculty member with an office computer and the department is connected to the campus
The department's annual library budget is approximately $75,000. There is a subscription list of approximately 50 journals. The library provides numerous on-line searching capabilities and interlibrary loan. The Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences and the Stern Library, both at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, are world-class research libraries only 10 minutes away. As members of the Birmingham Area Consortium of Higher Education, BSC faculty have borrowing privileges there.