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Science department comes by impressive upgrades

Eastern has received a major upgrade in its equipment and tools for operation in the laboratory sciences. Over the course of the last year, the biology and chemistry departments at Eastern were given two separate donations of equipment that were together valued at approximately $230,000.

The donated equipment came from Mr. and Mrs. John and Nanette Ballbach. Mr. Ballbach is the chief executive officer of a chemical supply company based in West Chester, Pa., called VWR International. The company employs over 6,000 people and serves many different markets, distributing chemical equipment and supplies to buyers around the world.

Derek Ritchie, vice president for development, serves alongside Ballbach on the regional committee for Young Life, a non-denominational Christian ministry that reaches out to youth on high school and college campuses by meeting together and building relationships.

While playing at a golf event for a Young Life fundraiser, Ritchie extended an invitation to Ballbach to serve on Eastern’s Cup Golf Committee at the Fox Chase Bank Eastern Cup; and in Jan. 2007, Ballbach accepted the invitation and became a part of Eastern’s community.

“He got to know Eastern and decided that he would like to help,” Ritchie said, speaking of the Ballbach family’s introduction to Eastern. After seeing the sciences at Eastern, Ballach knew what he wanted to do.

According to Dr. Jeanne Bundens, chair of the chemistry department, Ballbach requested a list of information regarding things that would help advance science programs at Eastern University. The faculty, responding to Ballbach’s wishes, compiled a “wish list” of equipment that was needed. The list exceeded what typical annual budgets allow for spending.

“The first list included about $100,000 worth of modern laboratory equipment including a set of 24 new microscopes, organic glassware, pipettors, microplate reader, FT-IR, shaking incubators, lab furniture and various other items,” Bundens said. The equipment would be used primarily in biokinetics, biology and chemistry departments.

“The second list comprised three larger instruments carefully selected to advance both the curriculum and faculty-directed student research for biochemistry, biology and chemistry majors,” Bundens noted. Once the lists were compiled, they were presented to the Ballbach family, and they decided to fund all items on the first list.

The Ballbach family issued a challenge to Eastern University faculty and alumni interested in the progression of the sciences. “They agreed to fund the first instrument if we raised $64,000 for the other two,” Bundens said. Presently, the mark has been met through generous donations by science alumni and other friends of Eastern.

Last month, the Ballbach family again generously donated $100,000 in laboratory equipment to the biology and chemistry departments. The new donations will strengthen and upgrade Eastern’s science course offerings in the future.

“It has revolutionized what we are doing,” Bundens said. “We have so much wonderful equipment for students to use.”

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