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.