In May 2002, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced it would
give Duke $30 million to support a new science facility. Melinda French
Gates, a former Microsoft executive, earned two bachelor's degrees at Duke,
one in computer science and the other in economics, and an MBA at Duke's
Fuqua School of Business. Her husband, Bill, is the founder and chairman
of Microsoft. The result of this generous gift to the university is the
newly constructed French Family Science Center (FFSC), a 275,000 sq. ft.
state of the art research facility. FFSC
“will promote the kinds of interaction across scientific fields that are central to our strategic plan, 'Building on Excellence,'" Duke Provost Peter Lange said. "Its proximity to other facilities should encourage collaborative teaching and research programs and greater interaction between and among faculty and students."
In January 2007 Duke’s Department of Chemistry moved from the P.M. Gross building into FFSC. This state-of-the-art building holds research and teaching laboratories for genomics, biological chemistry, materials science, nanoscience, physical biology and bioinformatics. FFSC will also bring together several Arts & Science disciplines under one roof, providing space for the departments of chemistry and biology, biological anthropology and anatomy, mathematics and physics.
The French Family Science Center’s ecological features include two green roofs, use of certified wood, recycled and regional materials and a landscape plan that included soil conservation and relocation of existing trees and plants. The green roofs stretch over the lecture hall and biology labs. Comprised of vegetation, soil, gravel and water-tight insulation, they reduce water runoff and keep the building cool. The building also includes other energy saving features – all windows have exterior reflectors that direct sunlight into the space. The center is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified as a green building, the construction industry’s standard for work that takes exceptional measures to minimize negative impacts on the surrounding ecosystem and the environment in general. In 2003, at the request of students in the Duke University Greening Initiative, the University solidified its commitment to green building and the LEED rating system in particular. Duke endeavors to have all new construction and renovations LEED certified, at a minimum.
Currently Chemistry has over 35,000 sq ft for research space, over 19,000 sq. ft. for teaching, and over 7,000 sq. ft. for instrumentation space. Chemistry also has 7,500 sq. ft. of research space in the neighboring Levine Science Research Center (LSRC). The $115M FFSC will further the institutional goals to promote interdisciplinary science at the Chemistry/Biology and Chemistry/Materials interface. This is only a small part of the $834M investment Duke has made in 34 major construction projects completed or initiated since February 2001.
The Chemistry department has access to many shared instruments in FFSC and other departments. The Duke University NMR Center has nuclear magnetic resonance facilities including state of the art spectrometers operating at 800 MHz, 600 MHz, 500 MHz and 400 MHz. There are four instruments for routine applications: a widebore at 300MHz amd two NMR’s for organic analysis at 300 MHz. Mass spectrometric services are provided by state of the art MALDI-MS and LC/ESI-MS systems. Routine mass spectrometry is performed with a Hewlett-Packard GC-MS system. There is also a JEOL JMS-SX102A high resolution MS system, which provides accurate mass measurement for the Department and the University. X-ray crystal structures can be determined using a Bruker Kappa Apex II and Enraf-Nonius CAD-4 automatic diffractometers. Numerous instruments of varying sophistication for photoacoustic, fluorescence, high resolution and routine FTIR, UV-vis, and ORD-CD spectroscopy are available; various laser sources, monochromators and computerized data acquisition systems are associated with these systems. Other significant research facilities include T-Jump, stopped flow and diode array spectrometers for rapid kinetic studies, a circularly polarized luminescence spectrometer, a CEM microwave synthesizer and an ultra dry lab facility. A variety of preparative and analytical gas and liquid chromatographs are also located in the department. Research in biological chemistry is facilitated by the availability of an autoclave; media prep room, high speed centrifuges and ultra centrifuges.The individual research groups of the Chemistry Department house many networked advanced workstations and the building networks is linked to the University fiber optic network. Among the resources available via the network is the North Carolina Supercomputer Center’s Cray system. A cluster of advanced workstations is available for general use, as are Apple and PC computers and laser printers. For IT support, there are two full time IT professionals working in the department. The Department also has a machine shop and an electronics shop.