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William Cook Laboratory for Bioscience Research to Expand Rose-Hulman’s Science Opportunities
September 22, 2011
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology has received a $500,000 gift
to establish the William Alfred Cook Laboratory for Bioscience
Research. For students in the biological sciences, this new
laboratory will facilitate and broaden hands-on research involving
||Living Laboratory: The William Alfred Cook Laboratory for
Bioscience Research will be a dedicated campus facility, located
adjacent to Crapo Hall, that allows students to develop their
knowledge of the biological sciences through the study of plant
life and organisms.
As Rose-Hulman builds on its reputation for turning out highly
skilled students in engineering, science and mathematics, it
expands to meet the future of science education.
Opportunities in bioscience fields have grown over the past 10
years at Rose-Hulman with the establishment of the Department of
Applied Biology and Biomedical Engineering, expansion of the
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and addition of research
programs in biofuels, biochemistry, biology and botany.
Now, Rose-Hulman will have a dedicated campus facility that
allows students to investigate the biological sciences through the
study of plant life and organisms. The 1,350-square-foot
facility will be constructed on the south of Crapo Hall and will
become visual focal point for the academic center of the
"William Alfred Cook Laboratory for Bioscience Research will
serve as a living laboratory experience for our students," stated
Rose-Hulman President Matt Branam. "This new facility will
greatly enhance our campus appearance, showcase our commitment to
the life sciences, and help us produce Rose-Hulman graduates who
can combine superior problem-solving abilities with an awareness of
the role of biology and botany in technical solutions."
The $500,000 donation was made by Carl Cook, chief executive
officer of the Cook Group global network of companies and
Rose-Hulman trustee, on behalf of his father, life sciences pioneer
and company founder William Alfred Cook. A noted
philanthropist, William Alfred Cook and his family were involved in
numerous charitable activities, and have supported the expansion of
the biosciences at Rose-Hulman.
"My father was a cross-disciplinary inventor who used
engineering technology to solve complex problems in the field of
internal medicine," stated Carl Cook in announcing the Rose-Hulman
During his lifetime, William Alfred Cook took a keen interest in
the development of Rose-Hulman's Applied Biology and Biomedical
Engineering department, which quickly achieved distinction among
such 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).
"Our family is proud to help advance this cross-disciplinary
approach to learning and experimentation in the new William Alfred
Cook Laboratory for Bioscience Research at Rose-Hulman Institute of
Technology," the younger Cook announced. "In this facility,
students will explore the roles of biology, botany, chemistry and
engineering in finding solutions for complex problems."
Over the past 20 years, biological sciences have played an
increasing role in innovative solutions to technical
challenges. Research into alternative energy sources has
included the development of algae-to-produce biodiesel fuel.
Similarly, remediation of releases such as oil spills has been
achieved using bacteria that consume oil as a food source.
Also, pharmaceutical companies continue to investigate innate plant
and animal properties for the creation of new drugs.
|Life Sciences Pioneer: The new campus building honors
William Alfred Cook, founder of the Bloomington, Ind.-based Cook
Group, who supported the expansion of the biosciences on
campus. A $500,000 donation to establish the laboratory was
made by his son, Carl, the Cook Group's chief executive officer and
"Knowledge of the biological sciences has opened the door to
innovative technical solutions," stated Michael Mueller, head of
Rose-Hulman's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
"The William Alfred Cook Laboratory for Bioscience Research will
enhance opportunities for cross-disciplinary education. The
laboratory will offer our students, whether they are majoring in
the biological sciences or any of the engineering disciplines, the
plant materials and laboratory experiences that will ensure a
hands-on education that is the hallmark of the Rose-Hulman
Specifically, biochemical engineering is an emerging area in
which a chemical engineer develops products from living
cells. The laboratory will provide a large growing area for
cultivating plants that can be used to produce pharmaceuticals from
Rose-Hulman has become a center for the creation of biodiesel
production from algae. This research requires large volumes
of water with adequate lighting and a controlled environment.
The laboratory will provide the required growing space for algae
research, allowing for increased biodiesel production -- from
several ounces per week currently being produced to the gallons
needed for testing.
Students and faculty will also be able to conduct research about
the water hyacinth, a free-floating aqua plant that is extremely
aggressive and poses a significant problem in natural lakes and
ponds. Despite the threat it poses, the plant is also
excellent for removing toxins, such as cyanide, from
waterways. The laboratory will provide the large controlled
area where these plants can be grown for study.
Mueller also noted that laboratory-based courses in Evolution
and Diversity, Plant Structure and Function, and Ecology will
directly benefit from the William Alfred Cook Laboratory for
Bioscience Research. It will also serve as a teaching
facility where students will practice the identification of plants
and their parts. 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
William Alfred Cook started developing medical devices in the
spare bedroom of his Bloomington, Ind., 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 firms
manufacture 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
The William Alfred Cook Laboratory for Bioscience Research will
be constructed by Garmong Construction Services of Terre Haute,
with fabrication by the Winandy Greenhouse Company of Richmond,
Ind., led by alumnus Hank Doherty '79. Another alumnus,
Michael Waldbieser '93 of Terre Haute, will be the lead structural
engineer on the project.