Developing Collaborative Answers
MU’s Life Sciences Center celebrates 10 years of interdisciplinary research.
It has been 10 years since researchers representing six MU schools and colleges moved into the Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center at the corner of College Avenue and Rollins Street. Out of the nearly 70,000 square feet of research space have come new therapies for degenerative neuromuscular diseases, more powerful anti-HIV drugs, and plant improvements by genetic modification and conventional breeding. Today 41 faculty investigators and more than 300 research staff and students from 12 academic units work together to solve problems related to human and animal health, the environment and biofuels, and agriculture and food.
Joy of Discovery
Spiraling down from the top of the building’s five-story atrium is the 110-foot-long architectural art piece, Joy of Discovery. Created out of aluminum, steel and acrylic by artist Kenneth vonRoenn, the sculpture symbolizes the interdisciplinary nature of the research conducted in the center. Surrounding the sculpture’s spine are eight discs featuring close-ups of microscopic images generated by research at the center and colorful double helixes representing DNA, a fundamental part of much of the research conducted in the building. Al McQuinn, BS Ag ’54, and wife Mary Agnes of Naples, Fla., donated money for the sculpture.
Located on the southeast side of the center, the Discovery Garden features medicinal plants such as Dwarf European Cranberrybush, which is used as a sedative and antispasmodic, and crop plants such as hybrid corn, which is bred in the facility to resist disease, pests and droughts. Winding through the center of the garden is a DNA double helix-shaped pathway, a nod to humans’ dependence on plants for food, medicine, clothing, fuel and oxygen.
Living Green Wall
Jim Bixby, facilities manager at the center, needed something to fill the two-story wall outside Monsanto Auditorium. He found a company that would install a living wall — a vertical arrangement of plants that not only looks beautiful but also naturally filters the air — for $45,000. Bixby, MS ’74, knew he could do it cheaper. For about $5,500, Bixby constructed and maintains a 13 feet by 20 feet wall of 88 recycled planters that hold 150 to 200 plants, from ferns to begonias to spiderworts, which Kate Hertweck, PhD ’11, a former graduate student of Associate Professor of Biological Sciences J. Chris Pires’, collected from a research site in Mexico.