Science and the LaVerne & Dorothy Brown Science Hall

The Importance of Science for USF Students

At the University of St. Francis, science matters. Science plays an important role in our lives and dominates the culture in which we live and work. Advances in technology and science are transforming our world at an incredibly fast pace, and it is important that our young people are adequately prepared for it.

The University of St. Francis, founded by the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate, began with an anchor in science through nursing and health care. Today, USF’s Natural Science Department continues to offer courses in the areas of biology, chemistry, physics and allied health. Faculty members provide quality science programming that allows students to excel in the most competitive of scientific fields, and USF students go on to fill research internships, enter medical school and benefit from job placement after they graduate.

One of the key aspects of a liberal arts education is a curriculum enriched by the sciences. USF’s curriculum has been designed to improve science literacy, while developing critical and analytical thinking and creative problem-solving skills. Last year, over 100 non-science majors took a science course, preparing them to better understand the world. Today, 45 percent of freshmen and transfer students enter USF declaring a major in a science field, including biology, environmental science, allied health and nursing. Also, 36 percent of last year’s graduating class earned a degree in one of those fields.


Meet Biology Student Leah Alles

About the LaVerne & Dorothy Brown Science Hall


Encouraging Collaborative, Interdisciplinary Learning

  • Dedicated and interdisciplinary laboratories for faculty-student research. These are large interdisciplinary laboratories that will be devoted to faculty-student research projects. The first floor will include one space merging microbiology, biochemistry, and molecular genetics; the second floor will include a human cadaver lab for anatomy and biophysics, and a lab for exercise physiology and biophysics; and the third floor will include another merged space for inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry. These shared faculty-student spaces support a science apprenticeship model.
  • Community-building shared spaces that foster interdisciplinary interactions. These spaces will include a dedicated tutoring room and a large student study/community space outside the faculty offices on the second and third floors. Smaller student spaces away from faculty offices will allow small groups of students to meet and work together in quieter environments. A new science tutor room on the first floor of the science hall will be open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily for free tutoring. Additionally, supplemental instruction (S.I.), unique to USF, will be available in appropriate classrooms/labs for courses that have been historically challenging.
  • Adaptive teaching laboratories in biology and chemistry containing flexible arrangements of tables and chairs to meet current and future needs for emerging pedagogies and programs. The spaces can be set up for different experiences, including traditional lecture, traditional lab, seminar, active learning groups or project-based learning environments.
  • Unique teaching labs designed for each discipline to showcase science: no more cookie-cutter science labs. For example, the anatomy lab will now have a teaching lab to accommodate 18 students around three cadavers, and organic chemistry will have a chemistry hood for each pair of students. The exercise physiology and biomechanics research area will be connected to the teaching labs so students will easily be able to move among the spaces. Windows from the hallway into many of the teaching laboratories will showcase science and health in a distinctive space that invites all to learn by displaying research and learning.
  • A multipurpose, student-centered lecture hall that will facilitate group work and active learning approaches within lecture courses. Small- and medium-sized classes will use table and chair arrangements while larger gatherings will be accommodated by the stadium seating above the tables and chairs. The lecture hall is another flexible space that will provide opportunities for all disciplines and the community.
  • A green roof on the second floor by the faculty-student common area will allow students and faculty to interact informally, as well as to accommodate special events, and can be used for teaching botany, ecology, and sustainability. The building is designed to meet Gold LEED standards, such that plaques and meters will teach sustainability informally as well as in classes.