William Woods University students have been given a new opportunity for hands-on-learning with a greenhouse addition to the biology department this semester.
Dr. Mary Spratt, Cox Distinguished Professor of Biology, says the greenhouse contains diverse plant life.
“Right now plants include a palm tree, an orchid, a banana plant, an airplane plant, a large blossoming geranium, a tall succulent, a blossoming volunteer tomato plant, an insectivorous plant and new seedlings.”
In addition, she says the role of students in the greenhouse is growing.
“The Biology Club planted seedlings in preparation for Earth Week events, and the Intro to Biology lab students will all be designing small research projects involving seeds and growing them. Next fall, it will also be used to grow materials such as variegated geraniums, mutant genetic corn seedlings and other materials for classroom use.”
Spratt said the greenhouse is just another way in which the department is trying to enhance the learning of students in their biology courses, both for general education courses and for the biology major courses offered on campus.
“This greenhouse gives students new opportunities to learn and to experiment. It will be used in the general biology courses, environmental science courses, with the biology club and possibly for future classes centered on it.”
Spratt also said a variety of botanical specimens will be grown in the greenhouse.
“There will be everything from flowers, to genetic corn to plants grown for photosynthesis labs.”
Dr. Katharine Mayne, assistant professor of biology, believes the greenhouse will be beneficial to those students who are not biology majors, as well.
“Last year in the spring, our non-majors biology class designed and carried some independent research projects on campus. Professor Jim Wilson and I supervised many groups studying tree flowering, horse feed nutrients, duck behavior and many other topics,” she said.
“This spring the greenhouse is available to them for experiments with plants as a new alternative. They are able to study plant development under more controlled conditions.”
Dr. Sherry McCarthy, vice president and academic dean, has worked with the science faculty to make the greenhouse a reality.
She says that having this addition allows students to do a more in-depth study of botany, in addition to providing a laboratory for experimenting with plant growth and genetics. McCarthy plans to work with other departments on campus to see how they might use this new building to enhance their programs.
The new greenhouse is located west of the Cox Science and Language Building on campus.
Members of the Biology Club at William Woods University pose in WWU’s new greenhouse. Left to right, Dr. Mary Spratt, Melissa Franke of Jonesburg, Mo., Rachel Weber of Millstadt, Ill., Brianna Barnard of Mexico, Mo., Amanda Gossom of Gloucester, Mass., and Carmen Watchinski of Columbia, Mo., planted seedlings in preparation for Earth Week events.