SPRINGFIELD — A building addition at Missouri State University is expected to provide better care for animals used in research projects, and university officials said they hope it will lead to more federal grants and provide an incentive for researchers to work at the school in Springfield.
The 5,350-square-foot addition to Temple Hall will alleviate a severe shortage of space to keep animals, which has prevented most biology faculty from doing research involving mammals, The Springfield News-Leader reported. Federal research grants aren't given to institutions that can't meet national guidelines for care of research animals.
The $3.3 million addition, called a vivarium, is expected to be opened by Jan. 1. The university currently has two smaller vivariums, with a total of about 2,200 square feet. Research animals are now kept at five different locations on campus.
The lack of space means the university focused on candidates whose research involved aquatic species, rather than mammals, said Tammy Jahnke, dean of the College of Natural and Applied Sciences.
"I did not have, until now, the ability to offer them space like this," she said. "This is going to be very attractive to new faculty."
The animals currently kept at the university for research include mammals such as mice, rats, bats and nothing bigger than an occasional rabbit. Other animals used for research include fish, salamanders, turtles, mussels and snakes.
Brian Greene, an associate professor of biology, will be moving his research snakes to the new addition. Improvements in temperature, lighting and ventilation should result in more precise research, he said.
The five sites where research animals currently are kept include some where classes are taught. The sites are not generally maintained with the animals as top priority, said Greene, chairman of the university's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.
The new vivarium also will improve security, with entry to areas where the animals are kept requiring a coded card.
"A lot of my snakes are venomous," Greene said. "So we like to keep them safe and secure so other people can't get to them."