NEWS & EVENTS | November 22, 2023

USB unveils its new chemistry laboratories

Gabriel Marineau Plante explains the advantages of the new chemistry laboratories.Gabriel Marineau Plante, chemistry professor, explains the advantages of the new laboratories.


Université de Saint-Boniface (USB) unveiled its new chemistry laboratories, including the Laboratoire de recherche Fondation Richardson, on Tuesday, November 21, 2023. In the spring of 2022, USB embarked on a complete overhaul of its chemistry laboratories, a $4 million‑plus project that promises to have a positive impact on both teaching/learning and research.

This major initiative was made possible by a $1.9 million federal government investment matched dollar-for-dollar by USB, and by generous donor support.

The first of its kind in Canada

“USB students will benefit from the institution's teaching and scientific resources, which are now ahead of the curve compared to those of other universities in Manitoba and elsewhere in Canada,” explains Richard Fréchette, Vice President, Administration and Finance. This new space, consisting of three separate rooms, gives the University a modern, one-of-a-kind environment that is conducive to scientific study and research, while maximizing student autonomy in the experimental sciences.

The largest room (teaching lab) can now accommodate 32 students, compared to 24 students prior to the renovations. Each workstation can accommodate up to two students and is equipped with independent ventilation for safe, independent learning. “This configuration is the first of its kind in Canada and opens up the possibility of new experiential learning that was previously very difficult or impossible, particularly in organic chemistry!” continues Richard Fréchette. The addition of monitor screens and speakers maximizes user efficiency and safety by limiting movement during demonstrations. The teaching laboratory is also adapted for wheelchair users and people with reduced mobility.

The new infrastructure includes a research laboratory, which will allow USB researchers to conduct increasingly sophisticated scientific experiments. Research activities began this summer with Professor Bilkiss Issack.

Lastly, the third room is used to prepare laboratory activities and for the storage of teaching materials and chemical products in compliance with safety standards.

A dream come true

Driven by their passion for science and their dedication to the French-speaking community, François Gauvin, a retired former science professor at USB, Jean-Michel Martin, lab attendant, Gabriel Marineau Plante, professor, and Éric Beauchesne, USB's director of infrastructure and security, have been working over the past few years on plans for upgrading the chemistry laboratories. They drew inspiration from some of the most renowned laboratories in Canada to create the layout of this one-of-a-kind project.

“When you're passionate about a field like science, you want to share that passion with others. A lab such as this one will certainly help impart that enthusiasm,” said François Gauvin.

Gabriel Marineau Plante had this to say: “The new labs will modernize chemistry teaching by giving students access to things such as more user-friendly spaces and state-of-the-art equipment.”

This facility will make a significant contribution to the training of science educators and health care practitioners, meeting a great need in our community today.

Two major donations for the chemistry laboratories

Two major donations totalling $250,000 were made toward the construction of the new USB chemistry laboratories. With generous contributions from the Richardson Foundation and the National Bank, the dream of having state-of-the-art science laboratories has become a reality.

A $150,000 contribution from the Richardson Foundation has allowed the organization to leave its mark on the research laboratory that now bears its name, Laboratoire de recherche Fondation Richardson.

“We are pleased to support this project, which will provide students with a cutting-edge learning environment for their education as begin their path toward a career in science, research, or innovation,” said Shannon Fijal, Executive Director of the Richardson Foundation.

The National Bank contributed $100,000 to the project.

“We are proud to support USB in this endeavour. Investing in education and research is critical for future generations. Access to state-of-the-art laboratories is a key factor in providing quality education and innovative research at USB,” said Eric Bujold, National Bank's Head of Client Relations.

USB thanks all the donors and the many organizations who have demonstrated their commitment to advancing this important initiative.

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