French Family Science Center Opens

New center gets scientists out of 'silos' and into collaboration

Duke alumna Melinda French Gates, left, front, talks with Duke Chemistry Assistant Professor Katherine Franz (in red jacket) during the tour of the new French Family Science Center Friday. The $115 million, 280,000-square-foot building features research and teaching laboratories for genomics, biological chemistry, materials science, nanoscience, physical biology and bioinformatics. Other family members on the tour included Gates' sister Susan Burkhardsmeier (to Gates' left) and mother Elaine French (center).

The French family toured labs in the building, talking with faculty and students using the new facilities.

At a ceremony that followed the tour, Duke officials talked of need to improve science facilities on campus. In her comments, Gates, who graduated from Trinity College in 1986 and the Fuqua School in 1987, spoke of her own time as an undergraduate working on computers crowded in the basement of the Biological Sciences Building. The event also included a symposium featuring 1997 Nobel Laureate Steven Chu of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and other prominent scientists. (Download the talks from Duke on iTunes U.)