Thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation, and additional support from the University of Central Arkansas, the College of Natural Science and Mathematics acquired a scanning electron microscope (SEM) in the fall of 2000. We have set up these Web pages to provide technical information about the facility, user policies, image archives, and information about our education and outreach programs.
The primary use of the SEM is to support teaching and research efforts within the College of Natural Science and Mathematics. Faculty and students from the Departments of Biology, Chemistry and Physics have all made use of the SEM in both advanced-level classes and in research projects. Current research using the SEM includes projects as diverse as: determining the mineral composition of certain fossils; looking at the forms of cancer cells (such as the one shown on the right) and brain cells; observing how plant shoots develop new stems and leaves; and studying the composition of meteorites. A formal course (BIOL 4250 / PHYS 4250) is now offered to train both students and faculty to use the SEM, and a growing list of scientific publications testifies to the success of UCA researchers in using the SEM.
Use of our SEM isn’t restricted to students and professionals! We are also making the SEM available in outreach programs to high school students and teachers, thanks to the generous support of the Toyota USA Foundation. “Saturday with SEM” workshops teach groups of middle and high school students the basics of SEM operation, and allow them to examine samples that they have brought themselves. Week-long workshops will also begin in Summer 2004 for both teachers and students. Classes can also submit samples to the SEM lab, have one of our operators prepare and examine them, and receive high-quality images of the samples. Finally, many images taken with our SEM are available in our growing WWW archives. These images may be used by students or teachers for any educational purpose.