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History of the Department of Biology
Facilities, Museum, and The Station

Departmental Offices

Among the many campus projects during the Brandenburg presidency (1913-Oct. 1940) was a science hall that opened in 1919. It was named Carney Hall for the second governor of Kansas, Thomas Carney. Carney had served during the Civil War period, 1863-1865.image

Carney Hall spread across the east side of the main campus where Yates Hall and Heckert-Wells now stand. The first two floors housed the Department’s offices, classrooms, and laboratories. Also located in Carney were Chemistry, Home Economics, the Student Health Center, two social rooms, and the College Auditorium. The Auditorium had seating for 2,200, a large stage, and a pipe organ.

Concerns were raised about the structural safety of Carney Hall and measurements had shown the building was settling. As a result, Carney Hall was condemned and later razed. The department was relocated during the fall semester of 1978 (over Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks) to the basement of Dellinger and various other locations on campus for the remainder of the 1978-1979 and the 1979-1980 academic years.

An interim solution, a "science annex" building, was built on east campus and served as the main home of biology and chemistry during the 1980-1984 academic years. This building later became the home of the Wood Technology program and anchored the southeast corner of the Kansas Technology Center when the KTC was built.

Construction on Heckert-Wells Hall began soon after the razing of Carney and it was opened in fall 1984 and now houses both Biology and Chemistry (image below). James Ralph Wells was the second Chairperson of Biology and L.C. Heckert was a former chemistry professor and Chairperson of the Chemical and Physical Science Department.

The Museum

FossilsThe College Museum occupied the third floor of the Porter Hall library (completed in 1926). It consisted of two large rooms with a floor space of about 50 by 100 feet. The Announcement of 1928-1929 lists a committee responsible for the Museum. The Chairman was Dr. O. P. Dellinger, head of the Department of Biology, and the members included George E. Abernathy, George W. Trout, O. A. Hankammer, Ira G. Wilson, E. Louise Gibson, Lawrence E. Curfman.

The collections were described in the 1928-1929 Annual Catalogue as consisting of "biological, paleontological, geological, anthropological, ethnological, and historical materials." Among the collections were primitive Indian artifacts, butterflies, Indian costumes and trinkets, and other displays. The Biology Department contributions included mounted animals, birds, reptiles, mammals, and insects. A trained museum assistant was employed. Bawden suggests it was Dr. Harry H. Hall, who came to the College on June 1, 1920 as an instructor of biology. Dr. Hall became professor of biology and was designated as Curator of the College Museum on July 1, 1942.

Over the years, the collections became dispersed or lost. When Porter Hall was remodeled in 1988, some artifacts were returned to Biology. The fossil mosasaur was saved and, some years after the move, was put on display in the third floor lobby of Heckert-Wells (image below) with some other paleontological specimens. It is probably the last piece of the biology materials intact from the old College Museum.

The Southeast Kansas Biological Field Station

Field stations serve as outdoor laboratories for teaching and research as well as for protecting natural resources.

The Southeast Kansas Biological Station includes properties managed by the Department of Biology for the purposes of research, education, and service. These sites include the Monahan Outdoor Education Center, the Natural History Reserve, the Robb Prairie, and the O'Malley Prairies. The two main properties (Monahan and Reserve) are located in the Brush Creek watershed in Crawford and Cherokee counties of southeast Kansas. The watershed - its land and water - reflects a legacy of ecological disturbance due to coal and lead/zinc mining in southeast Kansas. The properties and the surrounding area provide opportunities for understanding the restoration process and the ecology and biodiversity of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems (woodland, grassland, wetlands, streams, strip-mine lakes) in the context of a human-modified landscape.

Monahan Outdoor
Education Center

Natural History