Perdue Central Analytical Facility

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When asked about Laurentian’s new Perdue Central Analytical Facility Heather Cornthwaite is all smiles.

“It’s going to be unbelievable,” says the technologist and Laurentian graduate student, who is completing her PhD in biomolecular sciences. 

“A facility like this will allow us to perform a multitude of different types of research,” she adds. 

The facility allows graduate students to train on specialized instruments and expand their horizons with new research collaborations.

Cornthwaite is using those instruments to develop a model to predict Dextromethorphan exposure patterns in rat bone, which is the main ingredient in cough suppressants like NyQuil.

For research like hers, the Perdue Central Analytical Facility offers a suite of precise instruments to analyze biological and inorganic samples. 

“Because it’s a central analytical facility, we are going to have a wide array of instrumentation in here to support analytical research needs for many faculty,” says Dr. Alan Lock, the facility’s manager. 

Thanks to grants from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and other funding agencies, Laurentian researchers like Cornthwaite’s supervisor, Dr. James Watterson, have been able to secure highly specialized equipment to analyze drug levels in bone and dried blood spot samples, or identify metabolic changes and sequence DNA in fruit flies -- in the case of Dr. Thomas Merritt’s research. 

For Lock, the biggest benefit of having multiple instruments under one roof, is the opportunities for faculty members from different departments to collaborate and learn from each other.

The Perdue Central Analytical Facility will also be home to the Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health's (CROSH) new Workplace Simulation Lab, which was made possible thanks to equipment contributions from Dr. Tammy Eger, Dr. Sandra Dorman, Dr. Alison Godwin and Dr. Dominique Gagnon.

The lab will feature a rotopod to study vibration, an environmental chamber and metabolic cart to study extreme temperatures, and virtual reality tools to study mobile equipment operation.

The lab will also be valuable to engineering faculty and graduate students, who can use the equipment to test how different devices and machinery perform in extreme environments.  

“It’s fantastic that it’s going to increase the university’s research capacity,” Lock says.