Students Tour Virginia's Secure Laboratory

Apr 25, 2014

Some Virginia students, along with First Lady Dorothy McAulifee, got a first-hand look at the State Department of General Services’ secure laboratory.  It was part of National Laboratory Week and the experience of seeing DNA and bacteria, is offered to only a few. 

As Virginia's Department of General Services wraps up National Laboratory Week, a handful of students are left with an intriguing experience provided to a select few. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, this week they toured the highly secured state laboratory along with a special guest, Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe, to see exactly what takes place there.

The students gasped with amazement as little more than tempered glass separated them from lab technicians who analyzed food, deadly infectious diseases, DNA samples, water, airborne particulates, and even lottery tickets. Maggie Walker Governor's School student Noah Han says he learned there that something as simple as a can of soda, if processed improperly, could pose a threat.

Many students were disgusted by some of what they observed, but Mathews High School student Michael Bligliotis says it inspired him.

The First Lady noted that one goal of National Laboratory Week IS to pique interest and excite the students about science so that they pursue careers in the industry. At the tour’s end, the students donned lab coats and assisted in lab experiments, including extracting DNA from fruit to identify different bacterial species.