WNC celebrates opening of William N. Pennington Biophysical Science Lab

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Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Thom Reilly, center, speaks at a ceremony unveiling the new science lab at Western Nevada College in Carson City, Nev., on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018. The $1.45 million renovation of the biophysical science and cadaver labs was funded by the William N. Pennington Foundation.
Photo by Cathleen Allison/Nevada Momentum

Courtesy Steve Yingling, Western Nevada College

Thanks to a $1.45 million project funded by the William N. Pennington Foundation, Western Nevada College recently celebrated the opening of new biochemistry and human cadaver laboratories.

The William N. Pennington Biophysical Science Laboratory provides state-of-the-art technology, features a unique theatre-in-the-round learning environment and serves more students.

A number of educational dignitaries and Carson City executives joined the public in attending a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new William N. Pennington Biophysical Science Laboratory on Jan. 25 in the Aspen Building on the Carson City campus. Among those in attendance were Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Thom Reilly; Mark Ghan, acting WNC president; Chester Burton, NSHE chief financial officer and former WNC president; Nate Mackinnon, NSHE vice chancellor for community colleges; Sean Davison, director of consumer credit and risk management at Harley-Davidson Financial Services and WNC Foundation board member; Rob Hooper, executive director for Northern Nevada Economic Development and Institutional Advisory Council chair; architect Paul Cavin; Carol Del Carlo, NSHE regent; and Lori Bagwell, Carson City supervisor.

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Professor Steve Carman cuts the ribbon with the help of Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Thom Reilly, left, and Western Nevada College President Mark Ghan during a ceremony unveiling the new science lab at Western Nevada College in Carson City, Nev., on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018. The $1.45 million renovation of the biophysical science and cadaver labs was funded by the William N. Pennington Foundation.
Photo by Cathleen Allison/Nevada Momentum

Besides providing additional space and state-of-the-art facilities that will enable WNC to better serve more students, the new biochemistry and human cadaver laboratories will allow instructors to enhance student participation in class and lab activities, and improve their connection to critical concepts.

“This is an unprecedented grant that is absolutely phenomenal,” said Dr. Steve Carman, professor of biophysical sciences. “It will allow faculty to demo experiments that are mentioned in lectures in a safe and descriptive manner. The lab redesign makes the lab more modern and more inviting to students — maybe even a little more professional-looking as well.”

WNC’s original lab space was more than 25 years old and the cadaver lab was more than 15 years old. Over time, they have developed accessibility, space and functionality challenges.

The renovation has expanded the chemistry lab capacity from 24 to 32 students and aligned them in pods instead of on benches, fostering better interaction between students and an overall improved learning environment. The remodeled lab includes video monitors, providing students with direct, visual access to demonstrations and lectures.

“The teaching style will change from head-of-the class style to focusing and centralizing instruction on and for the students,” Carman said.

Foundation Director Niki Gladys, right, speaks at a ceremony unveiling the new science lab at Western Nevada College in Carson City, Nev., on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018. The $1.45 million renovation of the biophysical science and cadaver labs was funded by the William N. Pennington Foundation.
Photo by Cathleen Allison/Nevada Momentum

The remodeling project has expanded the cadaver lab from two to four cadavers and increased student capacity from 10 to 20. Students use the cadavers for anatomy and physiology courses for pre-nursing, pre-pharmacy, pre-respiratory therapy, pre-med technology, pre-X-ray technology and pre-physical therapy instruction.

Niki Gladys, executive director for the Western Nevada College Foundation, worked with the Pennington Foundation to finalize the grant in mid-November 2016 prior to the Nevada System of Higher Education formally accepted Pennington’s contribution to WNC.

“Our community’s ability to prepare students for successful careers in science and health care fields dramatically improves, thanks to the Pennington Foundation gift,” Gladys said. “This exciting project will yield a significant return for both the college and the community. As STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) classes continue to increase in importance, Western Nevada College will be able to provide the high-quality learning environment our students and our community deserve.”

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