Massachusetts Life Sciences Center Grant To Help Expand Opportunities for Current, Future Merrimack Students

The $750,000 award will build a state-of-the-art instructional facility in Palmisano Hall featuring top-of-the-line instruments used in life sciences research and industry.
Mass Life Sciences Center grant

The Shared Instrumentation and Research Facility (SIRF) is not the only addition to Palmisano Hall that will enhance life sciences education at Merrimack College. 

Thanks to a $750,000 grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, Merrimack College will fund a state-of-the-art life sciences training center on the second floor of Palmisano, providing the tools, curricula and real-world opportunities to give current and future undergraduate students a head start in their career aspirations.

“Undergraduate students having an opportunity to gain experience using these instruments will be unique,” explained Jimmy Franco, associate dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. “Most students don’t get hands-on use with these types of instruments until they are at the graduate level or until they are already in an industry job.”

The instrumentation in the training lab includes a nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) instrument, which is used to identify the molecular structure of a compound, and a high-pressure liquid chromatography instrument, which separates and identifies the compounds that make up a sample.

“This new space will be a signature example of how faculty can scaffold our curriculum to enhance the student experience and our research endeavors at the same time,” said April Bowling, vice president for research. “Students will gain valuable experience on these instruments, and then can confidently move on to be a research assistant in the SIRF. Our teaching faculty will give students the skills our research faculty will need from them.”

In addition to the equipment, the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center grant will also help increase the pipeline of students entering life science careers by further developing industry-based curricula at Merrimack in programs that feed into the life sciences and increase the number of industry partners for Merrimack.

The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center is a quasi-public economic development agency that supports the growth of the life sciences in the Commonwealth.

“We are excited to work with our current and future industry partners to understand their needs and give our students the skills and experiences that will make them marketable when they enter the workforce,” Franco said. “Through those industry partners, we are going to increase internship opportunities, co-ops and site visits.”

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