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Cook Laboratory for Bioscience Research Plants Seeds for Biological Sciences on Campus
September 21, 2012
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology has unveiled its first
"living laboratory," the William Alfred Cook Laboratory for
Bioscience Research, which showcases the increasing role of the
life sciences in developing tomorrow's innovative scientists and
||Spotlighting Biological Sciences: The William Alfred Cook
Laboratory for Bioscience Research is located next to Crapo Hall on
the north end of the Root Quadrangle in the middle of the
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology campus.
A grand opening event was conducted on September 20 to kick off
the college's homecoming festivities.
The William Alfred Cook Laboratory for Bioscience Research will
allow students to develop their knowledge of the biological
sciences through the study of plant life and organisms. The
1,350-square-foot facility is placed on the south side of Crapo
Hall in the academic center of campus.
"This laboratory will provide many of our students with their
first opportunity to grow, nurture, test, and breakdown plant,
bacterial, and algal life forms as a part of the learning
experience," said Rose-Hulman President Robert A. Coons. "Our
students are learning about organic circuits, DNA computing,
genetically engineered machines, and bioengineered fuels to become
the scientists and engineers who can answer today's biggest global
challenges and those of the future."
President Coons continued, "Science continues to fuse life with
life-saving engineering. Those with a state-of-the-art engineering
degree must be able to understand and apply these new discoveries
to their field."
|Valuable Research: Applied Biology Professor Peter
Coppinger (right) and Nathan Wheeler, a junior applied biology
major from Terre Haute, have spent two years researching a rare
form of bacteria infecting flowers in central Michigan. This
project will be enhanced in the new William Alfred Cook Laboratory
for Bioscience Research.
A $500,000 gift from Carl Cook provided funding for the
laboratory and equipment on behalf of his late father, life
sciences pioneer and company founder William Alfred Cook. A noted
philanthropist, William Cook and his family were involved in
numerous charitable activities, and have supported the expansion of
the biosciences at Rose-Hulman. Carl Cook is chief executive
officer of Bloomington-based Cook Group global network of companies
and a Rose-Hulman trustee.
Opportunities in bioscience fields have expanded over the past
10 years at Rose-Hulman, helping the college earn a growing
reputation of developing highly skilled science students for
careers and graduate school studies in the life sciences. The past
decade has seen the establishment of the Department of Applied
Biology and Biomedical Engineering, the expansion of the Department
of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and addition of research programs in
biofuels, biochemistry, biology, and botany.
The Cook Bioscience Laboratory will help cultivate plants that
can be used to produce pharmaceuticals from living organisms,
provide space for interdisciplinary algae research, allow for
biodiesel production to increase to several gallons each week for
engine testing, and create a cradle-to-grave engineering
environment in which students examine the recyclability factor of
materials made from plants.
"This living laboratory will provide the plants necessary to
allow students -- whether they are majoring in the biological
sciences or any of the engineering disciplines -- to fully
appreciate the study of botany and biology," said Michael Mueller,
Ph.D., head of Rose-Hulman's Department of Chemistry and
Jameel Ahmed, Ph.D., head of the Department of Applied Biology
and Biomedical Engineering, added, "Given the importance that
plants play in the challenges facing the world, it is important
that Rose-Hulman has a facility like this. Knowledge gained by
working in this laboratory environment will help our alumni find
ways to feed an increasing population, develop new medicines and
explore potential energy sources."
||Popular Place: The dedication ceremony of the William
Alfred Cook Laboratory for Bioscience Research attracted trustees,
faculty, staff members, students and alumni.
The Cook Laboratory will provide applied biology students to
further their research on the effects of newly discovered bacteria
strains on flowering plants. It will also allow students to grow
multiple flowers to examine plant structure and their function, and
provide valuable research and lecture space for faculty in several
Also, the laboratory will provide a large controlled area for
the growth of water hyacinth, a free-floating aqua plant that could
remove pollution from natural waters and produce biofuels.
Essential Biology, a popular biology course, will now have a
laboratory dimension where students can examine various plants,
leading to a better understanding of plant diversity.
"The opportunities made available by this laboratory are really
endless," stated Peter Coppinger, Ph.D., associate professor of
applied biology and biomedical engineering. "I have always wanted
to help students study plant development from seed to seed.
Previously we have been extremely limited on what we could grow on
campus. There will be fewer limits in the future."
Coppinger also added, "The Cook Laboratory for Bioscience
Research gives our biological science program a major boost, and
showcases that Rose-Hulman is placing a strategic emphasis in the
During his lifetime, William Cook took an interest in the
development of Rose-Hulman's applied biology and biomedical
engineering programs. The applied biology major is one of the rare
biology programs in the country to require a year-long, full-credit
research experience. Meanwhile, the biomedical engineering program
was the first among Indiana higher education institutions to earn
ABET accreditation (2007). That program also recently earned a No.
2 national ranking in the 2013 U.S. News & World Report college
guidebook among colleges that offer the bachelor's or master's
degree as its top degree in engineering.
|Biomedical Pioneer: William Alfred Cook developed medical
devices that have saved thousands of lives, and founded
Bloomington-based The Cook Group.
William Cook started developing medical devices in his
Bloomington apartment in 1963. The Cook family of businesses has
grown into a global entity of 42 companies employing more than
10,000 people with manufacturing, sales, logistics, and
administrative facilities across the United States, Europe, Asia,
and Latin America. The firm manufactures cardiovascular diagnostic
and interventional products, antimicrobial catheters, vascular
filters, bioengineered tissue grafts, extruded and injection-molded
plastics, precision stainless steel tubing, urological equipment,
OB/GYN devices, and endoscopic instruments.
The William Alfred Cook Laboratory for Bioscience Research was
constructed by Garmong Construction Services of Terre Haute, with
fabrication by the Winandy Greenhouse Company of Richmond, Ind.,
led by 1979 alumnus Hank Doherty. Michael Waldbieser, a 1993
alumnus from Terre Haute, was the lead structural engineer on the