The University of Virginia’s College at Wise received nearly $90,000 from the National Science Foundation to purchase a hybrid high/ultra speed centrifuge. The centrifuge will expand the research capabilities of the department and offer students opportunities to work with faculty on several projects.

Professor Bruce Cahoon and Professor Michael Shell are researchers in molecular and cellular biology and study the mechanisms of DNA repair and RNA processing, which are cellular processes essential for all living things. Professor Floyd Beckford, a chemist, will use the equipment to aid in the production and testing of compounds with anti-cancer properties.  Cahoon and Beckford also study microbes and chemical compounds found in local waterways and this equipment will aid in processing water samples to detect environmental eDNA and/or pharmaceutical contaminants.

The proposal was submitted to the National Science Foundation’s Major Research Instrumentation program last January. The NSF grant will fund the instrument to replace an essential piece of equipment that the College’s Natural Sciences Department has used since 1986.

Cahoon is the lead on the grant project and Beckford and Shell are co-leads on the project.

“This centrifuge will enable us to pellet cells and molecules at very high speeds, >100,000 x gravity,” Cahoon said.

Cahoon said the program is for research instrumentation, not teaching, which means the NSF only makes the award if there is a demonstrated and robust scientific research program at an institution. He said the College was successful with the highly competitive grant application as only 17 percent of 805 proposals were funded.

Photo of Bruce Cahoon