Biology Facilities

Hands-on Experience with Professional Research Equipment

You will get the opportunity to do science and will be encouraged even in your first-year to be working as a scientist. This means that you will be actively participating in studies and research using our professional research equipment and facilities.

The biology department occupies approximately 15,000 square feet on the third floor of the Paine Center for Science. Additional facilities include the Margaret Bush greenhouse on the ground floor and animal facilities on the fifth floor.

Students Get Creative with BioPac

BioPacs allow Houghton students in Dr. Ransom Poythress’ neurobiology class to perform their own research.  This equipment allows for an extensive variety of experiments and is unique to Houghton among area colleges.

In a recent class project, students explored how sudoku impacted people’s anxiety by measuring their alpha waves with the BioPac.  Their results found that people who were able to complete the sudoku had more relaxed alpha waves than those who could not.  Another group used the mobile cart to transport a BioPac to the gym to analyze student reactions to auditory stimuli while  running on a treadmill. These students were responsible for designing their own experiment to measure these results. In this case, students pressed a trigger when they heard the designated sound. Their results showed that exercise slowed down reaction time.

Three students working with a BioPac in Biology lab

A third group used a BioPac to find a correlation between the number of concussions a person has had and their reaction time to visual stimuli. As hypothesized, their results found that more concussions slowed reaction times significantly.

The multipurpose design of the BioPac device allows students to perform several kinds of experiments and allows them to get creative and problem solve to design and execute experiments.  When conducting their research, students must prepare adequate controls, set up their space, find volunteers to participate, schedule their volunteers, collect data, and more.  These skills are essential after graduation and cannot be learned in the classroom alone.  They require practical, hands-on experience, and equipment like the BioPac. Just one more example of how Houghton provides the opportunity for experiential learning.

Students working together in Biology Lab

State-of-the-art Equipment

  • Genetic analyzer for sequencing DNA,
  • Laminar flow hoods for tissue culture
  • Fluorescent microscopes and imaging systems
  • Thermal cyclers for PCR
  • Various equipment for DNA/RNA extraction and electrophoresis
  • Advanced instrumentation for water quality assessment
Student working with professor in greenhouse spraying seedlings

Margaret Bush Greenhouse

Constructed in 1997, the Margaret Bush Greenhouse is 900 square feet on the south side of the Paine Center. Climate control is provided by an automatic venting and heating system along side of an automated shade system. Collections of various plant groups are kept and there is room for student research projects. The fifth floor includes a three-room animal facilities complex with cages and support equipment to house rats and mice.

Tags for Biology experiments

Biology Laboratories

Labs are taught in four large laboratory rooms, each equipped with Internet connection ports, new Olympus microscopes, and seats for 24 students. Additionally, there are four smaller lab rooms suitable for student and faculty research. Equipment includes growth chambers, an Olympus CKX 41 inverted microscope, a fluorescence microscope, a Seal AQ2 multichannel water chemistry analyzer, animal telemetry equipment for collaring and tracking of small mammals, small mammal live traps, two GPS units for field tracking and analysis, limnology equipment for aquatic biology. Two herbarium collections are housed in the botany/ecology lab: the college herbarium with 2000 specimens and the Moss Lake (a nature conservancy preserve some three miles south of campus) herbarium with 600 specimens.

Student standing in river with professor looking at speciman

Genesee River Region

Being located near the Genesee River, the Roger Tory Peterson Institute for Natural History and Allegany and Letchworth State Parks allows for ecological and environmental study and internship opportunities.