At a recent weekly staff meeting we heard from Assistant Campus Planner Christine DePalma who has been a key administrator in the planning and construction process for the Integrated Science Complex (ISC) scheduled to open in fall 2013.
I love that my daily commute involves a walk around the guard fences that encircle the project each morning and the chance to see the metamorphosis up close. That experience paired with the large poster boards of the external and internal components of the building that Christine displayed are starting to make the facility and the university’s tremendous research aspirations very concrete.
She visited because our staff needed a better knowledge of what exactly this building will mean for UMass Boston’s future. We learned about the various laboratories and teaching spaces that are being constructed for biology, chemistry, environmental and ocean science, developmental science, engineering and cancer therapy.
Her words were peppered frequently with “maybe” as in “maybe this will be a lab used by visiting scientists, or “maybe” a student will peer into one of the large windows of the lab and be drawn to take a biology course.
But the “maybes” came fastest and most furious when Christine described a space in the new ISC that is being called the “Sandbox” space. This is a very flexible teaching and research space that does not have a specific purpose other than to be used to nurture promising ideas and promising students. “Maybe some of our Boston Public School summer program participants will use the lab to learn something new about the environment.”
Maybe the seed idea for a major medical breakthrough will germinate in that sandbox. Maybe a student will decide to devote her life to research because of an inspiring lesson. Maybe students will video conference with a scientist in Asia in that space. Maybe. . . maybe. . . maybe.
Nan Cormier is director of advancement communications in the office of University Advancement.