If you had wandered into the Barnes Academic Center on Wednesday, September 15, you would’ve been greeted by a host of faculty members across all scientific disciplines during the Grand (re)Opening of the Science Spaces. You would’ve connected with alumni from Bethel’s STEM programs, including chemistry, physics and engineering, biology, psychology, and math and computer science. You would’ve toured the Nelson Larson Science Center and the recently renovated physics and engineering labs, while also hearing about plans to enhance the additional labs in biology and neuroscience. You would’ve talked to faculty members and students about their current research, and might’ve even interacted with their projects for yourself.
Along with tours of the science spaces at Bethel, the open house offered a number of interactive stations to demonstrate current department research. For instance, Professor of Chemistry Wade Neiwert showed how to make liquid nitrogen ice cream—perfect to pair with the “raspberry pi” demonstration and raspberry treats at Professors Carl Albing, Bill Kinney, and Tanner Auch’s math and computer science station. Professors of Biological Sciences Amy Dykstra and Teresa Degolier brought visitors to Bethel’s green roof, while Jeff Port and Ken Petersen, professors and co-chairs of biological sciences, used department spotting scopes to help others observe campus birds. Professor of Physics Julie Hogan highlighted her students’ summer research on particle physics through a LEGO brick model. Professor of Biological Sciences Melissa Cordes and Professor of Psychology Rachel Anderson showed how cockroaches implanted with electrodes can be driven with a smartphone application in their neuroscience station.
And while these stations cover roughly half of the ones offered during the Grand (re)Opening of the Science Spaces, what made this night truly unforgettable was the ability to safely come together to celebrate the sciences at Bethel. Due to the pandemic, there hasn’t been a great opportunity to welcome alumni back to Bethel to see the new spaces or commune with fellow alumni and faculty members. With current COVID-19 guidelines in place, science faculty and Bethel community members were eager to invite alumni and their families to experience the spaces for themselves.
“We think of our physics and engineering students as being part of our family,” says Professor of Physics and Engineering Brian Beecken. “The Sciences Open House was a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with students who are now alumni, and to share with them the exciting new developments at Bethel in terms of new science labs, new engineering majors, and new opportunities.”
Here’s an overview of what the evening of fellowship and exploration meant to Bethel faculty members in the sciences.