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Molecular biology

Spring 2010

Laboratories for the new century

First, six months of planning. Then, over the summer, came the actual moving of laboratory equipment, chemicals, papers, and all the rest. Finally, faculty, students, and staff from four separate science buildings are now under one roof in a gorgeous new facility beside Stadium Way.

“Our unit is large, with over 150 students, faculty and staff,” says John Nilson, director of the School of Molecular Biosciences. Previously, the school was fragmented, with bits of space in Fulmer Hall, Abelson (old Science), Eastlick, and Heald. “Moving from four buildings to one has already allowed unprecedented social and intellectual interactions that form … » More …

Spring 2009

Great promise in a nitrogen conundrum

Mike Kahn and Svetlana Yurgel, molecular biologists in Washington State University’s Institute of Biological Chemistry, have a challenge on their hands that involves one of the most abundant, but also difficult to obtain, substances on earth.

Nearly 80 percent of the atmosphere is nitrogen, and even that is only 7 percent of the total nitrogen on earth. However, most of it is locked up in rock. Only a tiny fraction of 1 percent of the total nitrogen is accessible to plants in the soil and in a form that can be used by living things.

And living things need nitrogen in a big way. Nitrogen … » More …