Central Science Laboratory

The state-of-the-art Central Science Laboratory (CSL) building opens to students in September 2019 and provides a student focused learning environment designed to offer new ways to learn and collaborate. The new laboratories will provide Keele with additional world-class facilities, and underpin the ambitious growth plans in science teaching and research.

Our investment in our students' future

This £34m investment provides 5,300m2 of modern, co-located science laboratories and will greatly enhance the teaching provision and develop the next generation of highly employable science graduates. Over £2m has been spent on industrial research grade analytical and laboratory equipment that will be used by students in their day-to-day laboratory teaching.

The building provides chemistry  and pharmacy wet labs, flexible dry labs for geography, geology, environment, forensic science and life sciences, physics and astrophysics labs and IT labs for many subjects including mathematics and computer science. It will bring together practical teaching across a range of disciplines including the Foundation Year.

 

Dry Lab in Central Science Laboratory

render of the dry labs in CSL

The Central Sciences Laboratory facility, along with the recently opened Huxley Life Sciences laboratory will enable us to rethink the way science subjects are taught. Students will benefit from transformational teaching in a space designed to encourage and enable collaborative and interdisciplinary working. Keele is already known for its innovation in teaching and learning and these labs will facilitate the reinvention of practical classes and student learning.

Curriculum development and the latest educational technologies will allow students to undertake pre-laboratory preparation so they can maximise the learning gain from experiments by already being familiar with the theoretical concepts and practical techniques.

Access to state-of-the-art facilities and high specification equipment will ensure students are well prepared for scientific or industrial employment post-graduation. The environment will mirror the multi-faceted nature of working life and the shared space will allow group working and collaboration between disciplines building the skills and experience much valued by employers. The skills acquired through independent inquiry and informal learning will be an excellent preparation for the world of work.

This lab is a large open space comprising flexible reconfigurable space, fixed benching for set experiments and darkroom areas for light sensitive work. The space is newly equipped to support students’ practical science sessions. These sessions employ the latest pedagogical methods of pre laboratory screencasts, team based learning, flipped classrooms and significant academic personal support.

A range of equipment is available for physics students allowing them to participate in experiments that help them to learn and use physical principles and mathematical techniques. They will build a foundation of knowledge used in their physics and astrophysics degrees.

In the electronics lab, students will discover the principles of AC and LCR circuits, amplifiers and how various components can be used in instrumentation. Students will also carry out experiments that explore mechanics by investigating gyroscopic motion and gas law, radiation by measuring atomic decay of various radioactive sources using gamma spectrometers and x-ray diffractometers.

The lab also includes several “dark room” areas which are used for optical experiments including, light spectrometry, electron diffraction and the use of interferometers.

In addition to practical laboratories there is a 60 seat dedicated astrophysics and physics IT suite that has been designed to suit the teaching needs of these subjects.

Forensics use the dry laboratory spaces for forensic analysis and criminalistics methods.

Wet Labs Visual for CSL

Floor 1 has a capacity of 128 split between into two zones designed to be able to teach all areas of chemistry.

Zone A comprises of 6 bays of state-of-the-art fume hoods and benching to teach organic and inorganic chemistry.

Zone B is open bench space surrounded by fume hoods to to teach pharmacy, physical chemistry, and forensics. The whole laboratory is highly serviced and contains new equipment and accessible height adjustable fume hoods and benches.

The new facilities will allow further expansion of the undergraduate experimental experience with a wider range of new synthetic procedures being possible including reactions under inert atmospheres which are essential for today’s modern organometallic reagents and catalysts which decompose in air.

Alongside the creation of the new laboratories there has been significant investment in new spectroscopic and analytical equipment which over the past 3 years has totalled over £2M. The policy has been to equip the laboratories with state of the art research grade instrumentation and to train our undergraduates in its use. This experience is much valued by employers.

Chemistry and Medicinal Chemistry

From Year 1 students are trained in both UV-vis and IR spectroscopy to a level at which the recording of spectra and operation of the instruments are routine. This leads in to using fluorescence and Raman spectrometers in Year 2. Keele students learn how to prepare samples and set up the pulse sequences for NMR spectroscopy which become a routine method of analysis for organic and organometallic compounds and is used extensively in Year 2. In analytical chemistry there are excellent gas chromatography (GC) and high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) systems for the analysis of complex mixtures of organic compounds and Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP) absorption spectroscopy and X-ray Fluorescence for inorganic materials. This training gives Keele students the confidence to select the right technique to use when researching their projects in Years 3 and 4. There is also access and training for additional techniques such as X-ray diffraction and high resolution mass spectrometry. All these techniques require extensive data analysis which will be undertaken in the new computer laboratory where training will be given in the specialised data processing packages.

This training and access to instrumentation gives Keele graduates the most comprehensive exposure to experimental procedures and laboratory techniques possible placing them at an advantage when entering the job market.

Pharmacy

The new Central Sciences Laboratories development has brought new facilities and equipment to the pharmacy undergraduate courses. The measurement and analysis and characterization of pharmaceutical excipients and actives have been upgraded by the purchase of new instrumentation such as NMR, FT-IR, UV/vis and HPLC. The creation and testing of solution, creams, and tablet formulations will use new equipment such as; homogenisers, dissolution and disintegration baths.

render of the dry labs in CSL

The flexible dry lab seats 180 over two zones and is fully equipped with the latest microscopy as well as substantial rock stores, water and micro-fossil preparation and analysis areas. The new facilities will support a highly tailored approach to practical learning that includes use of pre laboratory exercises and team based learning methods. In addition the facility will support effective cross disciplinary working. Each lab bench accommodates up to 6 people, and a Teaching Screen.

A further Wet Lab and Analytical Lab is included off the main flexible learning area with 2 fume cupboards and dry analytical space used by forensics.

This level will also accommodate microscopes and a new specialist facility for Rock and General Storage.

During Neuroscience sessions within the Central Science Laboratories students will get the opportunity to undertake a variety of practical sessions to expand and develop their knowledge gained in lectures. Using the AD Instruments system students will have the opportunity to monitor and record the bodies various electrical impulses through Ulnar Nerve Conduction, ECG, Blood Pressure and Lung Function. In conjunction with human physiology, students will be taught the importance of blood grouping in relation to transfusion and transplants. Neuroanatomy is taught as a link to tie in all aspects of human physiology experiments as the brain is the major organ which instructs and controls all bodily functions. Neuroanatomy encompasses theory essential to neuroscience research in relation to conditions such as Parkinson’s, MS and Dementia. As students’ progress throughout their degree, they will learn and undertake Biochemical and Neurological techniques used in current research. These can include experiments such as Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), the in-vitro amplification of specific sequences of Nucleic Acid. In the Neuroscience Research labs, we isolate mRNA and turn it into complementary DNA. The cDNA of primary Cortical Brain Tissue and culture of Neural Stem Cells is amplified, to detect whether the genes Nestin and β-Tubulin are expressed.

This is a 168 seat pc suite dedicated to the IT needs of all science subjects including foundation year, chemistry, Geography, geology, life science, maths, and computer science.

The lab is split into two zones comprising of 48 and 120 PC’s to allow multiple use of the space.
In addition to the PC suite this floor contains a large open teaching space that can be used by any subject for any teaching activity such as poster presentations and self directed learning.

Professor Jonathan Wastling quote

"Keele is already No. 1 in England for student satisfaction [broad-based universities, NSS 2018], but these new facilities will provide even better spaces and equipment for our students, giving them access to some of the best laboratories and science teaching spaces in this country and beyond, and allowing the University to further develop its word-class research activities."

Professor Jonathan Wastling, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Postgraduate Studies) and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences