North Texas Daily

University opens three core research facilities to entire campus

University opens three core research facilities to entire campus

University opens three core research facilities to entire campus
April 08
14:45 2022

The university has made three of its core research facilities, now managed by the Division of Research and Innovation, available campus-wide to all researchers

The BioAnalytical Facility, the Genomics Center and the Greenhouse Support Services Facility were moved from the BioDiscovery Institute and are now under full direction of Associate Vice President of Research Aaron Roberts.

Because these facilities are run by our office it means they’re open campus-wide, so students and faculty can conduct research in them and use that equipment that would be too expensive for an individual lab to have,” Roberts said. “If we have multiple users, we can pay for those things.”

The BioAnalytical Facility provides spectrometers for separating and quantifying small molecules and macromolecules, the Genomics Center provides RNA and DNA sequence analysis, and the Greenhouse Support Services Facility includes three major greenhouses. One is located on the roof of the Life Sciences Complex, with a second outside of the Science Research Building and a third at Discovery Park.

To use the facilities, students can reach out to the directors of the core facility they are interested in. Roberts said there is a usage fee due to maintenance needs and ensuring the on-site staff is paid. For some researchers, including Genomics Center Manager Taegun Kwon, the core facilities are the only opportunity to conduct expensive trials. 

“Typically, each experiment costs a lot,” Kwon said. “Without a core, these complex procedures could not happen. We use Ilumina, which is a very specialized technology that would be out of reach without the core.”

Biochemistry senior Claire Spann conducts research on campus and said she is excited to use these new facilities. 

I have access to all the information I need through my mentor and the graduate students in the lab,” Spann said. “[…] I do think that the improvements are great for UNT research overall and I hope to use them soon.”

In the future, the university will be introducing a fifth core for computational informatics that will be dedicated to big data and bioinformatic analysis. Roberts said administration is currently in the process of interviewing candidates to direct that facility. 

Needs for these core facilities are often determined by the university research roadmap, Roberts said. This process gives different departments the opportunity to express their needs and allows the Division of Research to understand what resources it needs to provide. 

“We’ve had a lot of successes come out of the roadmap already,” Roberts said. 

Among these upcoming plans is the introduction of a new drone facility located at Discovery Park and a behavioral lab established at the request of several departments including the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, the College of Health and Public Service and the College of Visual Arts and Design, Roberts said. 

“Those colleges identified this need and they may not have even known that other colleges were interested in the same things,” Roberts said. “[The behavioral lab] will have eye-tracking software and polling work stations, research that involves looking at human behavior and user experience.”

Featured Image: Equipment stands inside the BioAnalytical Facility on April 4, 2022. Photo by Lindy Jenkins

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Jillian Nachtigal

Jillian Nachtigal

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