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Excitement grows for new science building

COPPER STOPPER: Inside the new Science Research Building is a lab space encased in copper mesh. The room is part of the psychology area's new EEG suite. See story for details. (Photo by Tom Finan.)

by Mary Ann Gratton

The pursuit of science is getting a boost at the University of Toronto Scarborough as construction continues on the new Science Research Building.

Expected to open in late summer, the new three-floor structure will provide dynamic collaborative space for interdisciplinary teaching and research in physical, environmental and life sciences, according to Prof. John Coleman, vice-principal (research and graduate studies).

“We’re all very excited about the new building and looking forward to its completion,” says Coleman. “The opening will enable our faculty members to establish and organize their new labs, and the new structure will provide some fabulous state-of-the-art facilities to support research. The building will also provide some much needed extra teaching and research space that will help us to address some of the challenges the campus has faced recently.”

Designed by Moriyama & Teshima Architects, in association with Watson MacEwen Architects, the science building will extend from the existing science wing of the original Andrews structure. It will house laboratories for 16 faculty members and their research teams, along with associated support areas, as well as faculty offices, a 250-seat lecture theatre, seminar rooms, faculty offices, as well as work space for research assistants, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students.

“The scientific research taking place at our campus touches on many global issues, such as climate change, world hunger, stress and species extinction, as well as a better understanding of the brain,” Coleman adds. “The new space will enhance our ability to pursue this important research and continue to search for answers to problems that affect the entire planet.”

The accompanying photo displays a lab space encased in copper mesh. The room is part of the new Electroencephalography (EEG) suite in the psychology area. An EEG is a measurement of electrical activity produced by the brain, as recorded from electrodes placed on the scalp. Inside the lab, scientists will analyze brain function by measuring these minute levels of electrical activity in response to various stimuli. The copper shield reduces the impact of outside electrical activity that might interfere with the precise measurements taken inside the room.

The copper mesh structure is known as a Faraday cage. A Faraday cage or Faraday shield is an enclosure formed by conducting material, or by a mesh of such material. Such an enclosure blocks out external static electrical fields. Faraday cages are named after physicist Michael Faraday, who first built one in 1836.

Occupancy of the building is scheduled to begin in mid- to late-August, and a grand opening ceremony is being planned for fall. Researchers will begin moving into the new space in late summer.

The new building will free up space in the S-wing and will in turn spawn renovations and reorganization of space in the existing structure. As well, needed renovations to the Leigha Lee Browne Theatre are occurring in tandem with the science building construction.

As well as providing a new home for a number of existing faculty researchers, at least two newly hired scientists will be establishing their labs in the new building, Coleman added. Professor Carl Mitchell will the joining the Department of Physical and Environmental Science while Prof. Rongmin Zhao will be joining the Department of Biological Sciences.

Watch for details about the official opening, expected in October. Visit for more information. 


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