State-of-the-Art Instrumentation

We provide a number of cutting-edge scientific instruments and pieces of specialized equipment for student and faculty use across disciplines. In many cases, our facilities and instrumentation for undergraduates are comparable to, or even exceed, what other institutions offer at the graduate level.

To list just a few examples, Union students have access to:

  • An IBM Intelligent Cluster Computing Solution.  This $1 million computing cluster, donated by IBM in 2011 during the dedication of the Peter Irving Wold Center, gave Union the greatest computing capability of any undergraduate college in the nation. The cluster, which features 1,056 cores housed in 88 servers, can process 10 trillion operations per second and is like having 1,000 computers clustered together, running as a single unit.
  • The Union College Observatory. The observatory houses a 20-inch optical telescope equipped with CCD cameras and a spectrograph, as well as a 7.5-foot radio telescope. Both are used in a number of physics and astronomy courses and for research projects in observational and radio astronomy.
  • The Kelly Advanced Computing Lab. Designed with a high degree of connectivity and flexibility, the Kelly Lab provides a “digital sandbox” for applications requiring advanced computational power for data and image analysis, modeling and simulation, and high-end computer graphics. It also includes a Cisco Telepresence unit.
  • The Laboratory for Electrical Engineering and Music Research. The Laboratory for Electrical Engineering and Music Research, or "Phasor Lab," is an interdisciplinary research space that allows students to work on topics that fuse their musical and scientific interests.  It is equipped with instrumentation for advanced scientific measurements on musical instruments and speech acoustics through support from the National Science Foundation.
  • A SpectraMax M3 multi-mode microplate reader. Majors in Biology and in cross-disciplinary programs such as Neurosciences, Bioengineering, Biochemistry and Environmental Sciences and Policy have the opportunity to use the M3 to investigate enzyme and protein assays using absorbance, fluorescence or luminescence techniques.
  • The Union College Ion-Beam Analysis Laboratory (UC-IBAL). The primary instrument in the UC-IBAL is a 1.1-MV Pelletron accelerator that produces beams of protons and alpha particles (nuclei of helium atoms) used for the non-destructive, elemental analysis of materials.
  • Four Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machines. One of these is dedicated to real-time or quantitative PCR (qPCR) and enables students to quantitatively assess the varying levels of gene expression that can accompany a wide variety of biological processes.
  • A Leica Cryostat, used in conducting tissue and cell-level analysis of gene function in developing embryos, and several research-grade light microscopes capable of doing fluorescence, polarization and Differential Interference Contrast (DIC) microscopy.
  • The Li-Cor 6400. This state-of-the-art infrared gas analyzer (IRGA) permits the analysis of photosynthesis, plant respiration, and soil respiration in field and laboratory conditions.
  • A 400 MHz Bruker Avance NMR. This instrument has broadband nuclear probes and can be operated at variable temperatures.
  • A Leica SP2 Laser Scanning Confocal Microscope.  This instrument is capable of high-resolution fluorescent imaging.
  • The CETAC LSX 213 Laser Ablation System (Q-switched 213 nm Nd:YAG), attached to an Elan PerkinElmer ICP-MS.  This instrument is used in a variety of research experiments for elemental analysis in chemistry, geology, and physics.
  • The Materials and Molecular Characterization Facility. Located in a research suite in the F.W. Olin Building, the facility contains four new instruments used by students and faculty in multiple disciplines:
    • Bruker Optics Micro-Raman and Micro-IR Spectrometers, which allow faculty and students to conduct research in such areas as geological sample dating, art restoration, identification of environmental pollutants in aerosol samples, and nanomaterials characterization
    • An MFP-3Dtm Stand Alone Atomic Force Microscope (AFM), which enhances active student participation in nanoscience research
    • A Zeiss EVO 50XVP Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), which has expanded research in such areas as fission track analysis, nanocomposites, fossil coprolites, core sediment analysis, art restoration, high temperature superconductors and nanoscale periodic structures.
    • The Agilent 6400 Series Triple Quad Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry Instrument, enabling sophisticated analysis of a variety of nonvolatile organic chemicals and biomolecules

These are just a few of the examples of Union's world-class equipment and instruments. Union also maintains a number of collaborative research partnerships with other laboratories and institutions which give our students access to additional facilities in the U.S. and abroad.