Posted at 12:45 p.m., Feb. 15, 2016

LCCC receives a better view

Only community college in the nation with electron microscope

Cody Fox

Focusing on the detail:

A full look at the electron microscope shows where focused electrons reflect off of a sample and magnify it.

Laramie County Community College faculty and students are benefiting from collaboration with the University of Northern Colorado.

Recently, the campus received an amazing donation from the University of Northern Colorado. LCCC science instructors Ami Wangeline and Zac Roehrs collaborated on a grant to purchase a new scanning electron microscope for UNC. After purchasing the new electron microscope, UNC donated its old microscope to LCCC.

The electron microscope is a powerful scientific tool. Normal microscopes use light to reflect off a surface and magnify it up to 1,500 times. The electron microscope uses a focused beam of electrons in a vacuum to reflect off of a sample surface. It can magnify an object up to 200,000 times, showing extremely intricate details such as the surface of a cell or microscopic organisms living on other microscopic organisms. According to Wangeline, LCCC is the only community college in the country that has one on campus.

LCCC students and staff have unprecedented access to the electron microscope. “The electron microscope is not usually accessible to undergrads, at all,” said Wangeline. The microscope is embedded in metallurgy, biology and natural science courses.

“Even at most big schools that have them there is a lab with people that are trained on it so if you need that kind of thing you prepare the specimen and bring it to them and they give you back a picture. You don’t even get to really mess with it or do anything on it,” Roehrs added.

This is not the case for the LCCC campus. Last semester a faculty member’s child was allowed to use it to examine egg shells for a science fair project. When asked about non-science-related uses, Wangeline said, “I think there is a lot of potential to have other collaboration whether it is looking at the artistic perspective or whatever all across campus. But we are open to whatever.”