Grounds Gives Greenhouse The Green Light

Trevor+Umbinetti++%E2%80%A2++The+Spectator

Trevor Umbinetti • The Spectator

Seattle University’s campus just got a little bit greener.

This November, Seattle U celebrated the grand opening of a new greenhouse just off campus. Students will use the greenhouse to study plant taxonomy and physiology in biology classes and in undergraduate research projects. In addition, the Seattle U Grounds Department will use the greenhouse to preserve plant species on campus.

“The new greenhouse is 450 square feet and will be shared between the Facilities Services Grounds Department and the Biology Department, mainly for Michael Zanis’ classes,” said Administrative Coordinator at the Office of University Planning Lauren Rochholz. “The previous greenhouse was on the roof of Bannan and a only used for biology.”

Trevor Umbinetti  •  The Spectator
Trevor Umbinetti • The Spectator

A new greenhouse was erected by facilities on the corner of 13th and cherry. The greenhouse is going to be used by the biology department for research and classes.

The old greenhouse has been under used for years and Seattle U has lacked a good space for biology professors and students to work with plants. It is therefore no surprise that so many are excited about the new facility.

“At some point within the last year there was interest in building a new greenhouse structure,” said Michael Zanis, a biology professor at Seattle U. The project was a joint effort between facilities and the biology department, including Zanis’s class. “Like any project, if you can get more than one group involved, then the success is better.”

Greenhouses are not uncommon on college campuses—the University of Washington has a large botany greenhouse used for undergraduate classes and research, as well as kindergarten through high school education. Based on the plant research and classes already offered at Seattle U, the investment in a larger greenhouse makes sense for hands-on class work.

The new greenhouse at Seattle U will certainly be put to good use.

The grounds department already has several ideas in store, including an Earth Day event that involves growing vegetables from seed for use in community gardens. Grounds will also use the greenhouse to maintain plants and trees on campus.

“We hope to do some integration with the biology department,” said, Seattle U grounds and landscaping manager, Shannon Britton. “We’ll be expanding our plant collections on campus and taking some cuttings of more significant plants, extending that and growing them for the landscape. Mostly that’s our focus, but there may be some other things. We’ll see how
it goes.”

As far as the biology department is concerned, the greenhouse will be a great asset for professors and students.

“I’ll use [the greenhouse] for a couple different projects,” Zanis said. “From my perspective, it’s going to serve the plant physiology class and plant taxonomy class. The greenhouse will be a significant component for those classes. And then depending on the quarter and classes being taught, it might be used for some of the introductory biology classes as well.”

In plant physiology, Zanis is currently working on connecting plant responses to the environment to the genome, or genetic structure, of the plant. Zanis is excited about the greenhouse because in addition to providing hands on projects and materials for students, it also offers more opportunities for undergraduate research. He has already started experiments using the small growth room in Bannan, but is looking forward to having the larger space and other benefits that the greenhouse provides.

“The greenhouse provides us with a nice uniform environment, so we can control environmental variables better than we can right now,” Zanis said.

“The greenhouse allows biology students at SU to gain a deeper appreciation of the diverse plant species that are essential to us and all other species on earth,” said the Biology Department in a recently memo. “The new greenhouse will form an important component of plant physiology and plant taxonomy courses.”

According to Roccholz, funding the greenhouse was a joint effort that involved several groups on campus, including the College of Science and Engineering, Facilities Services, and the Space Governance Committee.

The greenhouse opening was well-attended, and included an opening blessing by Fr. John Foster, S.J., and speeches by Dean of the College of Science and Engineering, Mike Quinn, and Engineering, and Facilities Services.

If the opening of the greenhouse was met with such enthusiasm and excitement, then students can look forward to enjoying the fruits of their labor as the greenhouse is put to use this spring.