The Neural-Behavioral Sciences building, slated to be the next hub for life sciences on campus, hopes to allow the Biology, Psychology and Biological Basis of Behavior departments to interact in unprecedented ways.
The building, which will feature state-of-the-art laboratory classrooms, an auditorium, advising and study spaces and a cafe, will allow increased collaboration between scientists by bringing them together in the same building.
The open design of the building is meant to increase interaction among students and faculty in the three departments. Twenty-five percent of undergraduate students major in biology, psychology or BBB, according to School of Arts and Sciences Dean Rebecca Bushnell.
When the NBS is completed, all of the Psychology Department’s offices will move to the new facility. Earlier this year, the department’s Center for Cognitive Neuroscience moved to the Goddard Laboratories, adjacent to the proposed location of the NBS, slated to be built between the Leidy Laboratories of Biology and the Carolyn Lynch Laboratory near 38th Street and University Avenue.
The Psychology Department’s administrative offices and about half of its faculty are currently housed in the Solomon Laboratories near Huntsman Hall, Psychology Department Chair Robert DeRubeis said, adding that faculty members are also spread out in offices on Walnut and Market streets.
“Psychology is a research and idea-oriented science,” College senior and psychology major Jess Dignam said. “Great ideas don’t come from single people. And it’s hard to do that when you’re running around campus all the time.”
Dignam has taken classes in her major “all around campus.”
“There’s no central place to convene. Most other majors have it, and psychology is a huge major,” she said. “Having it scattered doesn’t make sense.”
“You have your Wharton kids who can just say, ‘Oh, let’s meet in Huntsman,’ but for psych majors, it’s more difficult to determine a meeting spot,” she said, adding that the non-classroom spaces in Solomon are very small.
DeRubeis said he does not know what the current Psychology Department offices and buildings will be used for after the move.
For College senior and BBB major Stefano Di Tommaso, having students and faculty in the same building would make life easier.
“A lot of times when professors can’t meet with you, it’s because they’re in their research labs, so it’d be good to have everyone in the same building.”
The BBB Department’s offices are also in Solomon, with classes extending to Stiteler Hall and the McNeil Building.
The Biology Department currently occupies the Leidy, Lynch and Goddard laboratories. The department plans to keep the majority of its research operations in the current locations but will extend its department offices, teaching and advising initiatives to the NBS, Biology Department Chair Greg Guild said.
Guild added that the building would benefit his department at both the research and undergraduate teaching levels.
“There’s always a benefit when you have something that is a physical community, as well as a virtual and administrative one,” DeRubeis said. “Certainly this will enhance working together on department matters and on science.”
1977 School of Design graduate and adjunct architecture professor James Timberlake called the NBS “an interdisciplinary collaborative opportunity.”
“Schools who share space in an interdisciplinary way with suitable program space to allow for innovative ways of learning and thinking is the way of the future for education,” he said.
The NBS was approved to begin its design development phase at a Board of Trustees meeting earlier this month. The building will displace the Mudd Building and the Kaplan Wing, which currently occupy the space.
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