A biochemistry lab in Kerr Hall North. Photo: Mohamed Omar

Kerr Hall hampered by heat

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Kerr Hall’s inconsistent temperatures may be affecting cell research in the physics labs. Halla Imam reports

Kerr Hall may not be the best place to conduct accurate scientific research.

In a recent letter addressed to the Ryerson Occupational Health and Safety Committee, Ana Pejovic- Milic, interim chair of the department of physics, voiced concerns from staff and students in regards to unsuitable temperatures within the building.

These unstable temperatures could have adverse effects on research being conducted.

“Temperature is a variable that can completely change the results of an experiment; it is directionally proportioned to your conclusion,” said Francis Tonolete, a fourthyear medical physics student. “If temperature isn’t controlled or stabilized, the results aren’t correct.”

Tonolete says that it is important to remember that Kerr Hall is home to labs that focus exclusively on cell cultivation research, and that this type of cell research can be seriously affected by Kerr Hall’s fluctuating climate.

“In order to ensure cell productivity, [they] have to be in an ideal environment, where temperature is consistent and closely monitored,” said Tonolete.

The concerns of Pejovic-Milic, and countless students like Tonolete, took centre-stage at a December meeting held by the Occupational Health and Safety Committee.

The head of the committee, Julia Lewis, who is also the director of Ryerson’s Centre of Environmental Health, Safety and Security Management, said problems regarding ventilation infrastructure could compromised research integrity. The committee decided on a January deadline to find a solution in addressing long-term infrastructure changes.

With the winter semester well underway, staff and students continue to search for answers. Students working in Kerr Hall say that temperature variations create a chilly atmosphere.

Andia Toomari, a fifth-year chemical engineering student, says that it has become an uncomfortable work environment.

“There always seems to be a problem with the heating; it’s either freezing or really hot in our computer labs,” Toomari said. “It’s impossible to get work done if you’re stuck on the ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ side.”

Lewis said that they are currently in the process of updating Kerr Hall’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC), but that she hasn’t heard complaints of it affecting any research.

“Part of the reason for the extreme heat was they hadn’t fully commissioned the HVAC system that had been installed,” she said. “I didn’t hear of any that [affects research].”

Ryerson’s president Sheldon Levy said that the HVAC system will cost $4.5 million.

Nawid Bakhshi, a fifth-year chemical engineering student, said that he sent emails to the Ryerson administration regarding heating problems in Kerr Hall.

“It’s frustrating because every 30 minutes you have to either add layers, open a window, move to a different computer [etc]. I’m trying to do work. That should be my main focus,” he said.

Ventilation issues fall under the care of Campus Facility and Sustainability, led by Tonga Pham. Pham, who was unavailable for comment, will oversee the costs and regulations that ventilation infrastructure changes will require.

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