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March 17, 2003

Sinsheimer fire reconstruction completed, labs reoccupied

By Tim Stephens

Work crews have finished the reconstruction of two labs in the Sinsheimer Laboratories Building that were destroyed in a fire on January 11, 2002. Researchers reoccupied the new labs last month.

The fire gutted Manuel Ares's lab and the one next to it. Photo: Don Harris, UCSC Photo Services

"It feels pretty good to be moved back in," said Manuel Ares, professor of molecular, cell, and developmental (MCD) biology, whose research group has been working out of borrowed lab space for the past year.

The reconstruction project was completed in a very short time considering the amount of work involved, said David Kliger, dean of physical and biological sciences.

"We were able to recover from the fire and complete this project because of the work and cooperation of many people within our division and across the campus. Their commitment to help our faculty return to their research facilities has been extraordinary," Kliger said.

The fire gutted Ares's lab and the lab adjacent to it, which belonged to Jane Silverthorne, associate professor of MCD biology. Silverthorne's laboratory was not active at the time because she has been on leave at the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Arlington, Va., where she serves as a program director in NSF's biological sciences directorate.

Stephen Ayraud, principal engineer in Physical Planning and Construction, said the entire area occupied by the two labs in the southwest corner of the fourth floor had to be demolished and rebuilt to current codes, including wall framing and utilities.

"We started almost immediately after the fire, contacting the original architect and working with the researchers to design the renovation," Ayraud said.

Alan Zahler, associate professor of MCD biology, has now moved his research lab across the hall into the space formerly occupied by Silverthorne's lab. And Harry Noller, Sinsheimer Professor of Molecular Biology, has moved part of his lab group from the third floor into the space vacated by Zahler, so that all of his research labs are now on the fourth floor.

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