Middlebury College students and faculty have access to many state-of-the-art facilities located in McCardell Bicentennial Hall or a short drive from campus.
Middlebury researchers also have access to a wide variety of off-campus facilities and field sites.
Our state-of-the-art cell imaging facility houses six Zeiss Axioskop Plus microscopes (three inverted and three upright) for fluorescence and differential interference contrast (DIC) microscopy.
Each microscope is equipped for digital imaging with AxioCam cameras interfaced to six computer stations with the most recent versions of Zeiss AxioVision Imaging softwares. This facility is available for use for courses and by student and faculty researchers.
Learn more about our Imaging Facility.
The Duncan J. McDonald Insect Collection is named for Duncan J. McDonald, a professor of biology at Middlebury College from 1967 to 1985. He started the collection to show his students the diversity of insects in and around Vermont. The collection now resides in McCardell Bicentennial Hall. Part of the collection was digitized in 2020 and can be found on iNaturalist.
For more information about the collection, read Middlebury Magazine’s 2019 article Natural Collection.
Battell Research Forest
The Battell Research Forest is a 42-hectare patch of uncut hemlock-pine forest that was given to the College by Joseph Battell in 1911. Battell’s deed stipulated that the trees on the lot “….are not to be cut…but shall be preserved in a primitive state.” The forest is primarily hemlock and red pine, but patches of maple, beech, and birch forest occur in areas that were affected by a windstorm in 1950. The oldest pines and hemlocks in the forest are over 300 years old, and many seem to have established following fires in the 1700s and 1800s. The forest is important habitat for wildlife. Hemlock forests are an important winter habitat for deer, which rely on the shelter and relatively shallow snow that they provide, and numerous small mammals (including two species of flying squirrel, whose use of the forest was the subject of thesis work by Emerson Tuttle in 2009).
Numerous student theses have been written on the Battell Research Forest over the last several years. Four Middlebury students (Amy Gilbert in 1999, Kelly Jewell in 2001, Becky Hewitt in 2004, and Aiko Weverka in 2009) have studied the effects of a severe ice storm on the forest, beginning the year after the ice storm (1998) and continuing to the present time. The most recent of these students, Aiko Weverka, used a combination of field data and models to conclude that the shift from fire, which was the dominant disturbance in the 18th and 19th centuries, to wind and ice storms would likely cause the loss of red pine from the forest. Opportunities for student research in the Battell Research Forest abound: the forest serves as a natural laboratory for studying forest ecology.
Middlebury College Teaching and Research Natural Area
The Middlebury College Teaching and Research Natural Area is a 20-hectare area adjacent to the main campus and the College’s athletic fields. It is composed primarily of a mixture of floodplain forest, riparian forest, and wetlands, but also includes a field that is kept open through periodic mowing in order to support populations of grassland-breeding songbirds. The area is used regularly by the department’s course on Vertebrate Natural History as the location of a bird-banding station (and hence the natural area’s nickname: the Bird Sanctuary). We now have over 25 years of data collected by students in this course on the migratory behavior of almost 40 different species of songbirds that move through this region of the Champlain Valley as they travel south for the winter. The natural area includes an extensive network of walking trails, which makes it easy to visit and conduct research throughout the site.
On the sixth floor of McCardell Bicentennial Hall, we have a greenhouse with a bay filled with plants for teaching purposes and a bay for plants used in student and faculty research. For instance, the research bay this semester has understory spring ephemerals for a plant ecology course, soybeans for an environmental studies course, and young oak saplings for senior thesis research. A table for reading and studying in the teaching bay is surrounded by greenery 12 months a year—this site has proven to be a haven for students in winter, when the world outside is gray and cold.
Off-Site Laboratory Facilities
There are several specialized facilities located near Middlebury College that offer their services to Middlebury students.
- The University of Vermont Microarray Core Facility allows researchers to do microarray analysis in order to determine gene expression patterns in a wide variety of tissues, cells, and organisms.
- The University of Vermont Proteomics Facility allows researchers to identify, quantify and characterize proteins present in different biological and biomedical specimens.
- The DNA Core Facility located at the Vermont Cancer Center at the University of Vermont and Fletcher Allen Health Center helps researchers who are sequencing DNA to troubleshoot that process.
- The Microscopy Imaging Center at the University of Vermont is a resource for the collection and analysis of biological images.