A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Tuesday, Oct. 21, at the new DNA lab in Reynolds Hall, just two months after the university’s Board of Governors approved plans for the project.

Current and former faculty and staff gathered with members of the Joplin business community to mark the occasion.

“This lab will make Missouri Southern a leader in DNA technology in the Four State area,” said Dr. Gerald Schlink. “More importantly, it’s a recruitment boost for us.”

Members of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce were on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Members of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce were on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony.

The plan for the project called to consolidate the equipment located in various spots in Reynolds Hall into one centralized location (Room 249). Students will be able to use the equipment to sample and sequence DNA and analyze the results.

Schlink said that the lab could also be utilized during the annual K-12 regional science fair and possibly a DNA “boot camp” for students during the summer. In his remarks, he recognized the efforts of Dr. Phil Whittle, former chemistry teacher and crime lab director, for his “foresight and diligence” in securing the equipment for the university.

A partnership with the Joseph Newman Innovation Center will make the lab an asset to the business community as well. The lab’s focus on food testing will allow businesses to train on the equipment and become familiar with the importance of DNA testing to the food industry.

Rob O’Brian, president of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, presented Missouri Southern with a check for $1,000 from the chamber and the Joseph Newman Innovation Center.

“It’s great to see Missouri Southern remain on the cutting edge of technology with this new lab,” said James Fleischaker, chair of the Board of Governors. “Not only current students but those just now considering taking that all-important step of continuing their education will be able to utilize it in their studies.”

Following the ribbon-cutting, senior biochemistry major Sheniece Smith offered a demonstration of how the equipment will be utilized in classes.

Schlink said that the new lab should be ready for student use by next week.