Initiatives in science education and research at Griffith University would have impressed the great Thomas Alva Edison, says Queensland Chief Scientist Dr Geoff Garrett AO.

Dr Garrett visited Griffith’s Nathan campus this week to officially open the University’s new Chemistry Teaching Laboratory in the School of Biomolecular and Physical Sciences.

The ceremony was held at the Sir Samuel Griffith Centre and guests included the Federal Member for Moreton, The Honourable Graham Perrett MP, Griffith University academics and industry partners, and staff and students from Whites Hill State College and Cavendish Road State High School.

Pro Vice Chancellor Science, Environment, Engineering and Technology, Professor Debra Henly, said the $2.4 million refurbishment of the laboratory had created a state-of-the-art facility befitting initiatives such as the new and comprehensive Bachelor of Science degree to begin at Griffith in 2014.

“A further $600,000 was spent on new equipment and the very generous donation of high-end analytical equipment by Waters Australia makes this laboratory a standout example in the field of science education and research in Australia,” Professor Henly said.

Dr Garrett said one of the joys of his position as Chief Scientist was discovering all that was happening in science in Queensland.

“Things are moving fast in these exponential times of change and there is plenty of exciting information just waiting to be known,” he said.

“Thomas Edison said that vision without implementation is hallucination. This laboratory is an important act of implementation and Thomas Edison would be proud of all you are doing here.”

The Chemistry Teaching Laboratory is divided into two spaces, one for first-year students and another for second/third-year students. In 2014, the laboratory is expected to cater for more than 600 students.

Teaching topics include analytical chemistry, organic, inorganic and physical chemistry, with students experiencing practical chemical techniques covering traditional wet chemistry, complex instrumentation and chemical synthesis.

Dr Garrett and Professor Henly with students from Whites Hill State College and Cavendish Road State High School at the Sir Samuel Griffith Centre

Dr Garrett and Professor Henly with students from Whites Hill State College and Cavendish Road State High School at the Sir Samuel Griffith Centre

The laboratory is open to Griffith undergraduates and students from the Queensland Institute of Business and Technology, although it is also being used for activities such as the Royal Australian Chemical Institute titration competition, secondary school outreach sessions, seminars, instrumentation demonstrations and instrumentation training.

The instrument room is open to research groups from within Griffith and other institutions, as well as external industry bodies.

Instrumentation within the laboratory features a mixture of traditional and emerging technologies, including Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometry, Triple Quadrupole Mass Spectrometry (High Performance Liquid Chromatography and Gas Chromatography) and Convergence Chromatography.
The facility also incorporates specialised exhaust extraction systems, modern fume cupboards and chemical storage facilities.

Professor Henly said the goal of the laboratory was to equip graduates with hands-on experience of the types of complex analytical equipment they were likely to come across when in the workforce, as well as provide cutting edge analytical tools to assist research.

After the official opening, guests were escorted on a tour of the new laboratory and the Sir Samuel Griffith Centre, where they viewed the range of technology supporting a building already granted a 6-star Green Rating from the Green Building Council of Australia.