The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee opened a brand new greenhouse in the northwest quadrant of the campus. The two previous greenhouses that were in operation will be shut down in order to make room for the growing fresh water sciences department and the new Kenwood Interdisciplinary Research Complex. To commemorate the occasion the department of biological sciences held a ribbon cutting ceremony on Dec. 4. Visitors who attended could take guided tours to see all the plant life and to learn about future projects the greenhouse has in store.
The third greenhouse that UW-Milwaukee will operate is the most technologically advance. New features such as an air condition system that runs on water from Lake Michigan, a shutter control system, and a fogging system make this one of the most state of the art facilities in the Midwest. “This greenhouse really is one of a kind,” said Yuliya Sorin who is a graduate student of biological sciences. “The old greenhouse was not as nice and did not give us the amount of control that we now have with this one.” Some of that control stems from the greenhouse being connected to a computer that alerts the manager if anything is wrong.
With the new technology of the greenhouse the facility is now capable for much more cutting edge research. “We will now be able to do much more sophisticated projects now,” said Tom Schuck who was the greenhouse manager and will now be a volunteer starting on Jan. 1. “Our older greenhouses were not air conditioned and they were not well lit so we could not use them in the wintertime very effectively and they were very difficult to use in the summertime because of the heat.” Some of the research that is planned for the greenhouse is plant genetics, bioceuticals, and to learn more about plant reproductive success.
A driving force behind building a new greenhouse was to create a better place for biology students to learn about plant life and to get a hands on learning experience. The two other greenhouses that the department used, one of which was located by the water institute and other connected to Lapham hall, lacked the necessary space for students to study the plant life that lives in the greenhouse. “I find that when my own graduate and undergraduate students are working with our research that they will just stop in and look at all the other plant materials in the greenhouse,” said Jeff Karron who is an associate professor of plant evolutionary ecology at the UW-Milwaukee. “That was impossible before because we had inadequate space and very low quality materials to show students.”
Several university biology students attended the ceremony as volunteers. To not only help answer questions from visitors but to also enjoy the new greenhouse. “I think this is cool the university is doing this,” said Alyssa Hakett who is a biology graduate and is one of Jeff Karron’s students. “This will greatly increase opportunities for students to learn about biology and to get a better understanding of the material that they have to learn for class.”
With a state of the art greenhouse Karron is enthusiastic about the opportunities it will bring the biology department. “This is really exciting for us. Up to this point we have been very limited with our facilities and so now we’ve got the facility in place and we can really take our research to a new level.”