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30th birthday celebration for Princess Margaret Laboratories!

Posted 15 May 2015

Current Laboratories Manager Dr Victoria Talbot, and retired Laboratories Manager John Clement (1997-2007) at today's celebration

The Princess Margaret Laboratories at Harper Adams University were opened 30 years ago tomorrow – and staff and students today took the opportunity to celebrate and reminisce. 

The building complex houses laboratories with up-to-date equipment for the analysis of agricultural, environmental and food samples and provides excellent resources for science teaching. 

Laboratories Manager Victoria Talbot said: “The creation of the Princess Margaret Laboratories was undoubtedly a pivotal moment for Harper Adams, ensuring that it was able to reinforce and maintain its position as the leading institution of its type in the UK over the following 30 years; we would certainly not be where we are today without them. Our student numbers on science-based courses have expanded considerably and our reputation as an institution has never been higher.”

Harper Adams has six well-equipped teaching laboratories for practical classes in the areas of Applied Biology, Microbiology, Nutrition, Crop Protection, Soils and Molecular Biology. Separate research laboratories support both undergraduate and postgraduate work in these areas and include the recent creation of a purpose-built Molecular Diagnostics lab and a category 2 microbiology laboratory for pathogen work. “Refurbishment of other teaching and research areas demonstrates our commitment to the quality of our science facilities,” Dr Talbot added. 

The building, which cost £677,000 to construct and was funded by the then Department of Education and Science, was opened on May 16, 1985 by Her Royal Highness, the Princess Margaret. It had seven teaching laboratories, two preparation rooms and a series of smaller rooms. An adjoining building, now home to the Foulkes Crowther lecture theatre and a series of teaching rooms, housed the library. 

As recorded in Lure of the Land, the book by former Harper Adams archivist Heather Williams, documenting the history of Harper Adams and published on its centenary in 2001: “The College has good reason to be proud of its excellent laboratory and learning resource facilities. They were the envy of agricultural colleges and university departments.”

Thirty years on, the laboratory facilities have expanded within the same four walls – and without. In 2013 a new research laboratory opened for PhD students on the upper floor of the adjacent Foulkes Crowther building, while in 2014 a building on the south side of the campus was refurbished to provide a purpose-built wet room laboratory to support teaching in animal anatomy and physiology.

In 2015, a new lab, also on the south side of the campus, opened for dedicated use by entomology staff and students, with input from the same management team as the main laboratories. Similar input is provided to the nematology lab at the University’s Crops and Environment Research Centre. A bio-fermentation category 2 research laboratory has also been established, containing apparatus and equipment for studies which simulate (in vitro) conditions for ruminant nutrition and anaerobic digestion.

Dr Talbot added: “We have plans to make significant further investments in our laboratories by expanding our teaching and research facilities; investments which will safeguard our past achievements and guarantee our continued success for the next 30 years. 

“A number of generous donors have already offered their support to a project to extend the laboratories complex, and we are working hard to complete the funding package in order to bring this important project to fruition.”

Join the conversation about this story on Facebook. Do you remember the labs opening? Or are you also turning 30? 

 

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