Carrier Corporation awards $90,000 to Fairfield University to upgrade the University greenhouse

Carrier Corporation awards $90,000 to Fairfield University to upgrade the University greenhouse

Greenhouse When students in Dr. Raymond Poincelot's biology classes conducted experiments on plants in the University greenhouse, they could never be sure if their outcomes were the result of the experiment itself, or the wildly fluctuating environment in which they were working.

Like most college greenhouses, the one at Fairfield relied on fans to cool the atmosphere when temperatures got too high and zinc oxide shading compound sprayed on the outside glass to prevent plants from being burned by the hot summer sun. That's going to change, thanks to a generous grant from United Technologies Corporation's Carrier Corporation.

Fairfield University will receive $90,000 over three years, subject to renewal each year, from the company to help renovate and enhance the greenhouse located on the top floor of its Bannow Science Center. The upgrades will enable professors and students to closely control and monitor the environment within the greenhouse, enabling them to conduct higher level experiments than were previously possible.

"Carrier is excited about seeing the greenhouse renovated so that the students and professors in the future will have state-of-the-art equipment enabling them to produce more reliable results to benefit our environment," said Carrier President, Geraud Darnis.

Much of the money will be spent to purchase equipment that will allow the University to control the temperature, humidity and other environmental factors to within a few degrees. New equipment and upgrades include: vents, flooring, heating, humidification, shading, and air conditioning.

"It's going to be updated incredibly," said Dr. Poincelot, professor of biology and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

The technology in Fairfield University's greenhouse will be on par with that of large state schools that perform government and private agricultural research in their facilities, Dr. Poincelot said.

The level of control will allow professors and students to hold all factors constant except for those they are testing. For example, students will be able to measure the effect of a hormone on a plant's growth without concern that variations in temperature and environment were the actual cause of any changes they observed, Dr. Poincelot said.

Once the work is completed, professors in the Biology Department will be able to hold classes in the greenhouse, as well, said Dr. Tod Osier, an assistant professor of biology who looks forward to integrating greenhouse work into several of his courses, including introductory biology. Dr. Osier also has research projects of his own, such as investigating the chemicals that plants produce to protect themselves from insects, that he hopes to further in the refurbished greenhouse. "It will really expand research and teaching opportunities," Dr. Osier said. "It's a great boon to the department."

"The generosity, vision, and expertise of Carrier Corporation allow Fairfield's greatest resource - our faculty and students - to extend their learning and discovery," said Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Fairfield University. "To a person, we are excited about this partnership and look forward to the exploration and excitement the renovated greenhouse will bring."

Posted On: 09-08-2005 10:09 AM

Volume: 38 Number: 16