By Carrie Henderson
Students and faculty at Fayetteville State and UNC Pembroke and nearby private companies will be getting access to a state-of-the-art microscope, one that can grow cutting edge research and highly-skilled researchers in southeastern North Carolina.
The new electron microprobe, secured with federal funding through the Department of Defense, uses electrons instead of light to magnify images up to 300,000 times the original size. Only a handful is in existence worldwide. This one will be housed in the Lyons Science Building near FSU’s planetarium.
Faculty say a microprobe on campus is going to make a big difference for FSU and UNC Pembroke. Faculty and students will benefit from the experience and walk away with advanced skills that can assist in various professions. The microprobe will also help the universities build infrastructure and increase research capabilities for NC. Additionally, Dr. Lee Philips, Associate Professor of Geology at UNC Pembroke, hopes the microprobe will reach beyond the university to impact the community: “we hope to be able to reach out to the community to excite kids about the applications of science.” By doing so, FSU and UNC Pembroke will play an important role in creating future leaders in the field of science.
Interest in the microprobe is sparking positive responses from a variety of sources, including public, private and federal partners. Other UNC institutions, including North Carolina A&T State University and NC State University, are in talks to create partnerships with this kind of work. Emily Dickens, Director of Community and Government Affairs at FSU, looks forward to creating new partnerships with various institutions to take advantage of the microprobe.
The microprobe was a top priority for the UNC system for fiscal year 2008 and several members of the community helped with letters of support. Dickens and FSU managed the federal appropriations process that led to the $1.5 million grant from the Department of Defense to purchase the microprobe. In a short amount of time, she believes the cost of operating the microprobe will be self-sustaining through a fee charged at the laboratory.
Officials are planning a grand opening ceremony for the microprobe facility, called the Southeastern North Carolina Microanalytical and Imaging Center, in late January 2010. The Center will provide students, faculty and staff of FSU, UNC Pembroke and surrounding universities with state-of-the-art micro-analytical and imaging capabilities in order that they may carry out cutting edge, transformative research at home and not have to travel to large research centers. The center is also available for use by industry, who are encouraged to involve FSU and UNC Pembroke students in their work.
But the chance to get young people in the area more interested in science is an important benefit too. Says Phillips: “We hope the Southeastern North Carolina Microanalytical and Imaging Center will be the spark that excited local kids to become the scientists of the future.”
For further information, please contact:
Emily M. Dickens
Director of Community and Government Affairs
Office of the Chancellor
Fayetteville State University