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OCC Life Science Department Benefits from Foundation Funds

Foundation PHotoOlney Central College’s Life Science Department had some much-needed maintenance performed on its microscopes and purchased new safety and sterilization equipment with funding provided by the OCC Foundation.

“The monies enabled the program to fill in holes and missing personal protection and to update some existing equipment,” said Instructor Sarah Bergbower. “Working in the lab is essential to the classes and the new equipment and updates will enhance that experience for our students.”

Items purchased include new lab coats and goggles, which students use while performing dissections or working with cultures in the lab. The department also acquired a Bacti-Cinerator Loop Sterilizer that uses infrared heat to remove contaminants from culturing devices.

“The Bacti-Cinerator completely sterilizes our devices and drastically reduces unwanted contamination,” Bergbower said. “We had a lot of issues with contamination before the new equipment was in place.”

As a final project in her Microbiology class, Bergbower assigns students two bacteria, unknown to them. Using biochemical testing methods and culture media, the students are required to identify the specimen down to the species.

“It’s the same thing they will be doing with test results in the real world,” she added. “It’s important to eliminate possible contamination for these tests. If you don’t have a pure culture, you won’t get the results expected.”

Maintenance to the department’s microscopes also is enhancing students’ lab experiences.

As she was assisting students with the microscopes, Bergbower noticed several weren’t working properly. With the Foundation’s assistance, Bergbower was able to have a firm, which provides maintenance for Carle Richland Memorial Hospital and Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center, perform preventative maintenance and make the repairs necessary to get the equipment back in the hands of OCC students.

“Many just needed a deep cleaning or small repairs to get them back in working order,” she said. “Only six needed heavy repairs. After receiving the TLC they needed, the microscopes are like brand new.”

Bergbower added, “I want to thank the OCC Foundation. Grants like this supply the resources and safety measures for students to succeed and acquire the hands-on learning experiences that will enhance their careers.”

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