by David Baxter
In September 2010, the Research and Innovation Centre (RIC) opened its laboratory spaces at the University of Regina. As the 2010/2011 academic year begins to draw to a close these new lab facilities have had a great impact on the kinds of research that can be conducted at the university.
The advances in research potential this facility offers have Laurie Sykes Tottenham, a doctor of psychology, very excited about the future. Sykes Tottenham is currently supervising honours and graduate students who are some of the students making use of the Behavioural Neuroscience Research Lab and the SPIT Lab in the RIC.
“The BNR and SPIT Labs allow us to test people’s behaviours and assess hormone levels, in order to examine how certain hormones are affecting brain functioning and influencing certain behaviours,” she said.
The students are currently studying the effects sex hormones have on emotion processing in men and women. Emotion processing is a person’s ability to understand and interpret emotions.
This research was made possible due to the increased space, and a large federal grant that was awarded to Sykes Tottenham and her colleague, Dr. Dennis Alfano, that was used to pay for the construction of this space, and the specialized equipment that is needed to conduct this research. The new lab space has more room for specialized equipment, equipment that has allowed for some very in-depth research.
“We can look at how two types of steroid hormones, sex or stress hormones, are influencing any behaviour that we have the tools to measure. In that sense there’s lots of opportunity, there’s lots that can be looked at,” said Sykes Tottenham.
Without these facilities research such as this would not have been possible before hand. The new facilities allow for proper storage and handling of biological materials that could be potential biohazards. As a result, Sykes Tottenham was able to gain level two bio-containment certification, something that would not be possible without substantial reconstruction of the older facilities.
Level two bio-containment certification means researchers can work with and handle materials that have the potential to be biohazards, but aren’t known biohazards. This includes any bodily fluid such as the saliva used in hormone research.
The labs are a welcome boost for honours and graduate students who now have the increased capacities to embark on new and exciting research in a wide variety of fields. This is sure to benefit them after graduation day.
Studies currently running in the RIC include research in fields such as biology, biochemistry, chemistry, physics, geography, geology, engineering, and psychology.
Photo by David Baxter