Saint Leo University Opens Innovative Lab for Students Earning Degree in Biology

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Lab's cutting-edge technologies empower students to blaze trails in science

Saint Leo University students pursuing a degree in biology are now better equipped to tackle some of the world's most pressing problems, from cancer to global warming. The Catholic, liberal arts university opened a renovated biology laboratory with state-of-the-art equipment to prepare bachelors in biology students for scientific trailblazing.

As the first major renovation to the Florida campus' Lewis Hall in over 40 years, the lab has been redesigned to facilitate teamwork and improve communication among students and instructors. Laboratory worktables and benches have been realigned, directing students’ attention to the instructor and allowing students to engage more freely with one another.

The addition of several advanced technologies is helping raise the bar on research at Saint Leo. Molecular equipment—such as an RT-PCR machine and a gel imager machine—allows students to examine DNA, RNA and proteins in cancer cells. A large incubator makes it possible for students studying gene expression to grow bacteria cultures and other organisms. A Millipore water purification system provides ultrapure water, so students can prepare culture media without worrying about contamination in lab experiments. A walk-in cold room and a renovated chemical cold storage room provide a stable environment for research.

“The improved lab exposes students to the rich research scenarios they will encounter as scientists,” says Linda Bergen-Losee, M.A., biology instructor and lab director. “The new design allows students to collaborate with professors and peers, conveniently prepare materials for laboratory exercises, and engage with science in a more active way.”

Saint Leo University invested $800,000 in the lab renovations, and is planning to spend a comparable amount to revamp two additional labs in the near future for 1) environmental science and botany, 2) and cell biology and molecular biology.

The renovated biology lab is the first of many enhancements students can enjoy in the coming years at Saint Leo University. The faculty is currently redesigning the bachelors in biology curriculum, with plans to add concentrations in focused areas of biological study.

Located in Central Florida, Saint Leo University offers campus students the opportunity to use the outdoors—nearby beaches, lakes and parks—as an extension of the biology lab. For example, in an introductory marine biology class, students conduct research while canoeing along the Florida coastline. Additionally, botany and ecology classes make use of the campus grotto and neighboring state parks to study local flora and the ecological impact of tourism on mangroves and coastal ecosystems.

Currently, Saint Leo University's traditional liberal arts campus has 230 students pursuing a degree in biology, 25 students pursuing an environmental science degree, and 19 pursuing a medical technology degree. Saint Leo's biology students can complement their major with minors in criminal justice, education, chemistry and engineering. All biology seniors conduct independent research under the mentorship of a faculty member, and may continue onto graduate degrees in medicine, pharmacology, veterinary science and public health.

About Saint Leo University
Saint Leo ranks as one of the top universities in the South, according to U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” list. Saint Leo’s traditional liberal arts campus, located 30 miles north of Tampa, educates more than 1,900 students. Total enrollment across its campus, regional education centers, and online programs exceeds 15,000. Among the oldest Catholic universities in Florida, Saint Leo is one of the nation's 10 leading providers of higher education to the U.S. military, and is a nationally recognized leader in online education.

To learn more about Saint Leo University's degree in biology, visit

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Jo-Ann Johnston
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