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September 2009 Issue

Shuk-mei Ho, PhD, chair of environmental health at UC, is leading the department’s charge to revamp lab space at Kettering Laboratory with hopes of attracting new talent and improving research capabilities.
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Renovated Labs Will Help Department Reach New Level

Published September 2009

As chair of UC’s environmental health department, Shuk-mei Ho, PhD, shared in the excitement when the CARE/Crawley Building, with its futuristic design and state-of-the-art labs, opened in 2008.

Soon, the department’s Kettering Laboratory home—parts of which date as far back as the 1940s—will have state-of-the-art labs of its own thanks to a major renovation project that will enhance the department’s already strong reputation and aid in the recruitment and retention of new researchers. Work began in August.

“This will be over 7,500 new square feet of lab space,” says Ho. “And it will be an open lab format so we can promote interaction, sharing of equipment and easier reallocation of space.”

Ho says the renovated labs will be an invaluable aid in recruiting new faculty who will focus on how genes and the environment interact.

“If you have a new faculty recruit, you want to show them the best space,” she says. “This will allow us to bring in and attract investigators who traditionally may have gone to schools on the east or west coasts.

“We’re hoping to bring in a mixed generation of established investigators and mid-level and junior faculty so we can take advantage of collaboration and mentoring opportunities, with some new energy coming into the group.”

Ho cites the environment—and by extension environmental health sciences—among the three top issues on the national and worldwide agenda, along with energy and health care. She believes her department, with an operating budget approaching $25 million, is poised to play a leading role in future advances.

“This project is the first step in a multi-step process of trying to increase our research base and also continuing to elevate our national stature,” she says. “We’re one of the top four or five schools among environmental health sciences in the nation, and in order to continue this competitiveness it’s really important to have new space and new investigators.” 

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