Queens College interim president Evangelos Gizis joined the state senator and dozens of professors and school officials to thank him for the hefty grant, as well as start the discussion of what needs to be done.
“This is a place where hundreds of thousands of students obtain education in chemistry and biology,” Gizis said. “There is a rule that every 25 years you should renovate each laboratory. And even though we try to renovate as often as we can, we cannot always control the resources needed to make the renovations.”
Each lab at the school accommodates roughly 24 students, and while some rooms have been recently modified, many students are still being taught in a teachers’ lab for physical chemistry built in 1949.
The classroom underwent a renovation four years ago, but the benches, tabletops and supply lines for gas, vacuum and water are still original.
Michael Mirkin, a professor of chemistry at Queens College that uses the old classroom, said he is hoping to be able to combine four labs into one.
“This is extremely inconvenient for students,” Mirkin said of the current conditions. “They have to carry things from one part of the building to another, and one of the labs is two floors up.”
While frustrated with the current structure of the chemistry labs, the professor said he is hopeful the new improvements would help redefine the way Queens College looks at science.
“Students are not supposed to work in this environment,” he said. “They see other students in a normal research environment, and they definitely develop questions about their confidence because they are kept in this strange dilapidated environment.”
Mirkin added that state-of-the-art labs play a huge role in attracting students and an overhaul of the department is key in order for the school to build a reputable name in the world of science and chemistry.
“I also have problems attracting students who don’t want to be in an environment like that and they d