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Appalachian’s microscopy facility named for long-time educators

06_10Dewel46.jpgBOONE—The microscopy facility located in Appalachian State University’s Rankin Science Building has been named for the couple who worked for years to make it a reality.

The William C. and Ruth Ann Dewel Microscopy Facility houses a confocal laser scanning microscope, an environmental scanning electron microscope and a transmission electron microscope.

The facility was founded in 1974 when the Dewels, both former directors of the facility and longtime faculty in the Department of Biology, convinced university officials to purchase an electron microscope. The microscope remained in use until 2005 when parts were no longer available.

Thanks to a National Science Foundation Grant, an environmental electron scanning microscope was purchased in 2000. Another NSF grant funded the purchase of the confocal microscope in 2005.

“Over the years, numerous student research projects, master’s theses and faculty research projects have been supported by this facility,” said Richard Henson, former associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and a professor emeritus in the Department of Biology. “Fifty research publications have come out of the lab since 1984, appearing in journals such as Bulletin of Marine Science, Smithsonian Contributions to Paleobiology, Journal of Morphology, and others.”

The facility is available to disciplines across campus. Faculty members in the anthropology department have used the equipment to study wear marks on prehistoric tools recovered from archeological sites in Russia and North Carolina. Biology faculty members have used it to research the evolution of animal eyes, and faculty members from the physics department use the facility to study nanotechnology.

“The bottom line is we would never be here without the Dewels’ vision and guidance,” Henson said.

“Research, outreach and faculty collaboration with students is important to this university,” said Dave Haney, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs. “All of that happens here, which makes this an important place.”

Bill Dewel retired as a professor of biology in 2002. Ruth Dewel retired as an adjunct professor of biology and director of the electron microscopy laboratory in 2006. They now live in Benson, Ariz., where they are active in conservation projects.

Caption Photo: Ruth Ann and Bill Dewel helped develop Appalachian State University’s microscopy facilities, from an electron microscope purchased in 1974 to the latest acquisition, a confocal microscope purchased in 2004. The facility has been named in their honor. (Appalachian photo by University Photographer Mike Rominger)