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Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center

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UMESC Laboratories

  • Laboratories are essential for conducting scientific research. The Center is fortunate to have a wide variety of laboratory facilities. Let's take a look at these labs and the types of research that is being conducted in them. First, there are the wet labs. The wet labs contain numerous tanks and aquariums designed for aquatic-based investigations. Here, researchers are using a wet lab to culture juvenile freshwater mussels. The mussels are part of a study investigating how sediment ammonia levels affect their reproduction and survival rates. The water quality lab involves water in a different way. Laboratory staff process close to 80,000 water samples a year that have been collected through the Center's Upper Mississippi River Long Term Resource Monitoring Program. Analyzing exclusively for nutrients and sediments, the lab employs state-of-the-art automation and bar coding procedures. The automation creates a seemless interface to the data acquisition operations run by the six, state operated field stations.
  • Complementing these facilities are the analytical laboratories. Various procedures are carried out in these labs including organic chemistry, toxicology, and chemical residue analysis. The Center has other lab facilities that greatly expand the research capabilities including facilities to handle low-level radioactive materials. These radioactive materials function as tracers in complex metabolic studies and require special protocols and safety procedures before they can be used. Another unique lab feature is the room containing two environmental chambers. The room allows strict control over such conditions as humidity, light, and temperature. A feature available to all labs is the system of water mixers and reconstitution tanks. The system allows scientists to adjust the chemical and mineral composition of the water used in their experiments. The issue of invasive and exotic species is becoming a major research area. The Center has the facilities-both indoor and outdoor-needed to handle the unique requirements posed by these animals. In particular, this means ensuring that invasive species used in experiments do not escape. The Center's containment labs employ special filters and chemical treatments to ensure that invasive or exotic species are not unintentionally released into the local environment.

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Page Last Modified: November 3, 2015