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Department of Biology
Home Facilities and Affliated Units Instructional and Research Facilities
Facilities and Affiliated Units

Instructional and Research Facilities

The Department of Biology is primarily housed within the Swenson Science and Life Science Buildings on the University of Minnesota Duluth campus. The goals of our instructional and research programs are multi-faceted:

  • To provide an active and hands-on learning experience.
  • To reinforce, through experimentation, the theories and principles learned in traditional lectures.
  • To develop basic and analytical skills in preparation for professional and graduate level application.
  • To advance the frontiers of knowledge through innovations and research.


Swenson Science Building

Swenson Science Building (SSB) was named for James I. Swenson and Susan Swenson, of the Swenson Family Foundation. Jim Swenson was a 1959 chemistry graduate who completed a research project on peat as an undergraduate at UMD. The $33 million project was completed and dedicated in January 2005. Funding for SSB was split between private donors and state appropriation. Many generous gifts from foundations and private individuals made construction possible. Many donors are recognized on the honeycomb wall of the SSB atrium and in the naming rooms. The building is currently shared by the Department of Biology and the Department of Chemistry.

The Department of Biology developed six teaching laboratories in SSB for courses in General Biology, Cell, Genetics, Physiology, Molecular, and Microbiology courses. The laboratories were designed to integrate modern experimental methods and state of the art instrumentation to encourage teamwork, meet all safety regulations, and to allow for the expansion of undergraduate research.

There are 12 research laboratories for faculty in the Department of Biology along with several shared rooms for specialty research support, which include cold, tissue, variable temperature, radioisotope, aquaria, and equipment rooms.

Outside of the building there are four dominant architectural features that give a sense of place.

  • The pond is a biological experimental site for students and faculty that houses stands of wild rice and transient waterfowl. The pond also serves as an integral part of the storm water handling system.
  • The outside of the building was modeled to resemble a ship pulling into the harbor.
  • The spiral staircase outside casts a shadow of the double helix found in DNA.
  • The Wild Ricing Moon sculpture stands 70 feet high next to the building and was designed by Minnesota artist John David Mooney.


The Life Science Building

The Life Science Building was originally constructed in 1966 for $1.4 million to house Department of Biology laboratories, offices, a greenhouse, and a stockroom. By 1970 an addition was added to the building for two large lecture halls. In 1984 an additional greenhouse was added on the second floor to house expanding research and teaching demands.

A $15.2 million project to renovate the 38-year-old building began in 2006 and the Life Science Building reopened in fall 2007. The building obtained Silver Leed Certification for the renovation. Funding for the project was provided through the State of Minnesota and the College of Pharmacy. The building is currently shared by the Department of Biology and College of Pharmacy.

The Department of Biology established six teaching laboratories on the 3rd floor of the Life Science Building for Biology and Society (a non-major biology course), Anatomy, Animal and Plant Diversity, Ecology, Mammalogy, Ornithology, Entomology, and Plant Taxonomy.

For more information on building resources, please visit Building Resources.








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Last modified on 10/20/14 11:43 AM
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