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CBEC aims to be hub for research with new space

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Lauren Kiren (left) and Angela Lawver, third-year chemical engineering students, do homework on Feb. 16 inside OSU's CBEC building. The building opened to students and faculty in January. Credit: Lee McClory / Design editor

Lauren Kiren (left) and Angela Lawver, third-year chemical engineering students, do homework on Feb. 16 inside OSU’s CBEC building. The building opened to students and faculty in January. Credit: Lee McClory / Design editor

The Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Chemistry building, or CBEC for short, has become a hub for scientific exploration for projects that involve things like studying the effects of chemical nerve agents on farmers.

Work on the North Campus building began in June 2012, according to the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering website. The building opened in January, and some students and faculty members said they have been happy to have the upgraded space.

Christopher Hadad, who served as a faculty adviser during the planning process for the new building, said one of the challenges of doing research in his old building, Evans Hall, was a short floor-to-ceiling height of 11 feet. It wasn’t tall enough for some of the equipment required to do the experiments. CBEC was designed with that equipment in mind, he said.

“CBEC is a building that helps to enable technology being developed at the forefront of technology in order to solve, hopefully, nature’s problems, and doing it safely in an energy-efficient way,” Hadad said.

Hadad, who is also a chemistry and biochemistry professor, currently works in CBEC researching the effects of nerve agents on farm workers.

He said some farm workers are exposed to the same types of nerve agents that are used as chemical weapons in war, but he, along with professors Jovica Badjic and Tom Magliery and their teams of students, are developing ways to counteract the effects of these nerve agents, called organophosphorus chemical nerve agents.

Nerve agents are highly poisonous chemicals that stop the nervous system from working, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s website.

“We’re essentially trying to rejuvenate the nerve compound and bring it back to life,” Hadad said.

Gerhard Raimann, director of operations for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, said in an email the total expenditures for research for the department in 2014 totaled about $11.7 million.

It cost $126 million, or more than 10 times of the amount spent last year on research, to build CBEC.

Bernie Costantino, university architect, said in an email CBEC upgrades the old chemistry and chemical engineering buildings.

“We replaced four obsolete buildings with one flexible, state-of-the-art research lab building,” he said.

According to the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry website, the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering contributed $17.5 million to the project. The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry agreed to cover $8 million, and the Department of Arts and Sciences matched this amount. The rest of the funding came from the state of Ohio, the website said.

Some students said they also enjoy the upgrades and have been spending time in the building for class and studying.

“I spend a lot of time here studying,” said Angela Lawver, a third-year in chemical engineering. She said she liked the open areas for studying that the building has.

“There was a lot of money put into the building and it represents external care. This building wouldn’t be possible without external donors,” she said.

Clarification: Feb. 20, 2015

An earlier version of this article did not specify that there were two departments that came together to fund the CBEC project. The Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering contributed $17.5 million to the project. The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry agreed to cover $8 million, and the Department of Arts and Sciences matched this amount.

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