College students will have the chance to study DNA analysis and forensics at the University of Huddersfield when its new £18m science block is complete.
The university is set to create a state-of-the-art science lab specifically for use by A-level and BTEC students – giving them access to advanced equipment and the chance to study DNA analysis, microbiology, chemical synthesis and forensics.
It will be the first time that a UK university has created a lab for this purpose. It will be available to schools and colleges in a 60-mile radius of Huddersfield.
The university is building an £18.2m science block with facilities that include “super labs” able to accommodate up to 120 undergraduate students, simultaneously carrying out practical work for their degree courses.
Biology, chemistry, forensics and geography are the main subjects using the new laboratories and a new course in optometry is under development, helping to address a national shortage of experts in an increasingly important branch of healthcare.
The four-storey building will be ready by July, 2019, and the first cohort of students will begin using the labs in the following September.
University vice-chancellor Prof Bob Cryan and Prof Jane Owen-Lynch, Dean of the School of Applied Sciences, came up with the idea of providing a floor dedicated to liaison with schools and colleges. It was soon incorporated into the design.
Prof Owen-Lynch said: “We already have a lot of colleges coming to us for practical work as we run practicals designed to complement A-level and BTEC science curricula, but currently we can’t offer the full spectrum. The new development will give us the space to do so.
“They will have access to, for example, polymerase chain reaction machines so they will be able to analyse DNA and will be able to carry out microbiological techniques and equipment that schools are generally unable to provide. Chemistry students will be able to do a lot more chromatography, synthesis and reactions.”
The new science block will be connected to the University of Huddersfield’s Joseph Priestley Building – home to the School of Applied Sciences, which has itself been given an £8.3m makeover.