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A Tour of The Biology Department's Facilities

The Building

The Dougherty Science Center is a 66,000 square foot teaching and research facility built in 1974 and currently houses the departments of biology, chemistry, computer science, geology/geography, math, and physics.

The Biology Majors Room

The students have a room near the classrooms and labs where they can study and have informal meetings. The room is equipped with comfortable furniture, a small library, tables, refrigerator, sink, and an occasional napper.

Classrooms and Laboratories

The biology department has a variety of classroom formats, each with full multimedia capability to utilize current instructional technologies. The department has ten laboratories, each equipped for a specific type of course ranging from anatomy labs to botany/zoology labs. Some of our more advanced equipment for use in our cell biology or molecular biology courses is described in the equipment section below. The department maintains a cadaver laboratory housing a male and female cadaver for use in both upper and lower level courses on human anatomy. These include human biology, anatomy and physiology I and II, and gross anatomy. The prosected cadavers are utilized for three years for instructional use and then replaced.

Chapman Research Lab

The Chapman research lab was more recently constructed in honor of Dr. Joe Chapman. It is equipped for mammalian and yeast cell culture as well as a variety of preparative and analytical procedures.


This facility holds dozens of plants used by our botany and other students. The greenhouse is a National E-Series 600 square foot glass-enclosed heated unit situated on the roof of the science building.

Field Stations

Our area has a variety of unique natural resources for field studies including the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Panther Creek State Park, and Cherokee and Douglas reservoirs and the college’s site in Monroe County, TN.

Both terrestrial and aquatic research is available to students at these sites as well as the Mossy Creek Observation Area in Jefferson City.


Donated to the college for field and environmental studies, the “Dotson Property” (as it is called) is approximately 80 acres located near the city of Madisonville.


All of our equipment are research-level instruments and are available to any student for use. Equipment relevant for use in some of our current studies is listed below based on area of use.

        Microscopy -

We have many bright-field, phase-contrast, and fluorescence microscopes with imaging capability to visualize cell morphology and subcellular distribution of molecules.

        Centrifugation -

Separation of particles (cells, organelles, molecules) based on their size, weight, or density can be achieved by applying strong centrifical forces. We have over two dozen centrifuges in most possible configurations including floor-standing ultracentrifuges capable of g forces up to 600,000xg and small table-top units for quick spins at student workstations.

        Electrophoresis -

Separation of molecules based on their size, charge, or polarity can be achieved by partitioning in a semisolid media placed in an electric field. We have both high and low voltage, preparative and analytical units as well as a free-flow unit (Rotofor cell) and a completely automated unit (Phast system) and image analysis (FluoroMax) capability for quantitation of the resolved bands. We also have an automated system for protein (Western) blotting.

        Gene analysis -

We have two DNA sequencers (ABI 310) that are based on capillary electrophoresis of labeled DNA fragments. We have several thermal cyclers for running PCR (polymerase chain reactions) including a gradient cycler (Eppendorf) and a real-time PCR unit (ABI 9600) for quantitative gene expression analysis.

        Spectroscopy -

Analysis of molecules based on their spectral (light-absorbing) properties. We have five spectrophotometers that scan in the UV/visible range; six fixed wavelength microplate readers that can read up to 96 samples in only a few seconds for high throughput screening; a scanning fluorescence spectrophotometer and both fluorescence and luminescence microplate readers. We also have Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), Infrared (IR), and Mass (MS) spectrometers in the chemistry department.

        Chromatography -

Separation of molecules based on their size, charge, or polarity can be achieved by various chromatographic procedures, most based on a column configuration. We have several specially configured systems for Fast Protein Liquid Chromatography (FPLC, 3 units), High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC, 5 units), and Gas Chromatography (GC, 5 units). These are equipped with various detectors including UV/visible, fluorescence, conductivity, electrochemical, and mass sensitive detectors. Many also have fraction collection and automatic injection capabilities. These are typically used for protein, lipid, or drug analysis or purification.

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