Cutting-edge in Wooster

Cutting-edge in Wooster
At the CFAES Wooster campus science building, people will gather in new research labs, classrooms, a cafe, a bug zoo, and more!
Science building external view front
The Wooster campus science building

Story by Matt Marx, photos by Ken Chamberlain, CFAES Advancement

For decades, some scientists have been conducting state-of-the-art research in state-of-antiquity buildings on the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) Wooster campus. Thorne Hall, home to the Department of Entomology, was built in 1923. Gourley Hall has been in use since 1950.

That’s changing.

The 60,000-square-foot, $33.5 million Wooster campus science building opens next month at The Ohio State University.

“This building has been a great bright spot,” said Anne Dorrance, CFAES associate dean and Wooster campus director, and associate director for the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station. “To have them actually do cutting-edge research in a building appropriate for the type of science we do now is really exciting.’’

In addition to four entomology research labs, two undergraduate chemistry teaching classrooms will enhance education for Ohio State ATI students who can take classes there. The building has offices and community spaces as well.

The teaching labs and classrooms serve as a big improvement over converting a research lab for teaching and offer ATI students a shorter walk to chemistry labs, Dorrance said.

“It’s really not in the DNA of a research park unless you have some place where people can go and run into each other.”Anne Dorrance

“And the other thing is this will be the first of many steps to incorporate our ATI colleagues into the central campus,” Dorrance said.

Graham Cochran, CFAES associate dean for operations, sees that particular location as a new central hub on the Wooster campus.

“It’s one of the first steps for us in bringing that campus together in terms of the work we do across our mission areas,” Cochran said.

The new building creates some exciting learning opportunities for undergraduate students in Wooster, CFAES assistant dean and ATI director Kristina Boone said.

“And because the Department of Entomology will be located there, our students will get to know research faculty and staff in addition to the teaching faculty and staff from ATI,” Boone said.

Boone and Dorrance are both looking forward to a new first-floor cafe that will serve as a gathering space and an attraction for those who might not otherwise enter the building.

“At this research campus, everybody has their own coffee pot. So we’ll finally have some food in a little cafe, just a social gathering place,” Dorrance said. “It’s really not in the DNA of a research park unless you have some place where people can go and run into each other.”

Up until now, researchers and graduate students would meet in hallways for “cross-pollination” conversations that could turn a project’s direction or provide help to a student, she said.

“Those conversations are really missing here, and before, we were in our unique, disciplinary buildings with very little opportunities to cross paths,” Dorrance said.

Boone believes that the building also demonstrates the emphasis of ATI on the Wooster campus, she said.

“It will be a buzzing place, and not just because of the Bug Zoo,” Boone said.

Entomology’s Bug Zoo is moving into the building’s first floor as well, in a space that will allow for a showcase of the collection for visitors, which often includes school tours.

In addition, the first floor has a large, divisible multipurpose room to support teaching, research, outreach, and community programs; open seating and gathering space; and an outdoor patio and pollinating garden, said Brian P. Hanna, director of CFAES facilities and capital planning.

The second and third floors have offices, research labs, space for small conferences, and shell space to allow for additional growth.

Check out a live construction update at as the Wooster campus science building nears completion.