Texas Tech University

Research Lab to Unveil Liquid Nitrogen Freezers Paid for by NSF Grant

Heidi Toth

April 25, 2016

The Natural Science Research Laboratory has a valuable collection of genetic material from thousands of different species.

WHAT: The Natural Science Research Laboratory (NSRL) at the Museum of Texas Tech University is unveiling a number of enhancements to its collections, including a state-of-the-art liquid nitrogen storage system funded by the National Science Foundation.

The liquid nitrogen freezers are used to house the frozen tissues of the genetic resources collection, which contains more than 300,000 tissue samples from more than 90,000 individuals representing approximately 1,100 species of mammals. Researchers from throughout the world use these samples to study global biodiversity, the impact of humans on the natural world and how disease is transmitted between humans and nature.

Until the freezers were installed, the collection was stored in mechanical freezers at negative 80 degrees Celsius, but these freezers have a short life span and are subject to frequent mechanical failure and power outages, which puts the collection at risk. Liquid nitrogen has become the gold standard for preservation of tissue because it reaches a temperature near negative 200 degrees Celsius and provides better protection for DNA, RNA and genomic samples.

The process of transferring the collection is expected to take about three years. Additional improvements include greater storage capacity, better public access to the information, a public exhibit highlighting the significance of genetic collections to society and reduced energy consumption.

The NSRL also will introduce two mechanical storage units that will be used in the fluid specimen collection and the library. Those units were installed with funds from The CH Foundation.

WHEN: 5:30 p.m. Wednesday (April 27)

WHERE: The Natural Science Research Laboratory at the Museum of Texas Tech University, 3301 4th St. Enter from 7th Street, at the southeast corner of the museum complex.

About the Natural Science Research Laboratory

The NSRL is a division of the Museum of Texas Tech University that on building and preserving Earth's natural heritage for education and research purposes. In addition to the genetic resources collection, the NSRL houses collections of mammals, invertebrates and birds, as well as a collection of more than 3,000 mammal specimens that are radioactive because of environmental exposure, most of which came from Chernobyl, Ukraine.

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CONTACT: Robert Bradley, director, Natural Science Research Laboratory, Museum of Texas Tech University (806) 834-1303 or robert.bradley@ttu.edu