Proposal ID 2015-057
Submitted January 16, 2015
Owner fhl
Department Friday Harbor Laboratories
Category Computer Labs
Funding Status Partially Funded
Metric Score 4.27


  • Name
  • Title
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Mailbox
  • Alan Cairns
  • Senior Computer Specialist
  • 206-616-0704
  • Please use US Mail (Campus 351812)
  • Name
  • Title
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Mailbox
  • Scott Schwinge
  • FHL Administrator
  • 206-616-0708
  • Please use US Mail (Campus 351812)
  • Name
  • Title
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Mailbox
  • Dr. Lisa J. Graumlich
  • Dean, College of the Environment
  • 206-221-0908
  • Box 355355



Students at Friday Harbor Laboratories have full access 24/7 to the computers in our Student Computer Lab and a smaller lab in the Fernald Classroom. These twenty six dual-boot (OS X and Windows 7) iMacs provide students with Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite, ArcGIS, MATLAB, and other specialized statistics, math and analysis packages.

The lab was created with STF funds in 2007. Seven of the original computers were replaced by new iMacs last year. Four of the remaining original computers are experiencing issues and need to be replaced. Also the 6-year old color printer in the lab is malfunctioning with repair costs greater than a new printer.

In order to update these 7-year-old Core 2 Duo iMacs and color printer in our Student Computer Labs we are requesting four Intel quad-core i5 iMacs and a new Xerox Phaser 8570DN color printer.

Category Justification

STF Category - Computer Labs
This proposal requests needed updates for the student computer lab.


The Friday Harbor Laboratories ( are the University’s primary field station for the study of marine biology and related disciplines.

We presently have as many as 70 students in residence full-time during any one session. Hundreds more (annually more than 1,500) make shorter, research oriented field trips to FHL. Undergraduate students attend for a full quarter in spring or autumn (10-11 weeks) receiving 15-16 credits, while in summer undergraduates and graduate students attend 5-week courses, of 9 credits each. Our Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program has expanded, giving undergrads hands on experience in the areas of Integrative Biology and Ecology of marine organisms. Graduate students often conduct research on site for more than a year. Commonly three or more courses are taught simultaneously, and these are concurrent with the work of 20-30 graduate students and independent researchers.

In addition to the standard lectures and labs common on the Seattle campus, students in most FHL classes usually conduct a self-directed research project related to the course content. This involves collection of data in the field or lab, analysis of these data, and the presentation of their results through written and oral reports.

The Laboratories are a division of the UW College of the Environment, but our instructors are recruited from various departments. In 2014 we will have faculty participating from UW Oceanography, Biology, Fisheries, Program on the Environment, Sociology, the Applied Physics Lab, and even English (due to the new creative writing aspect of our fall MBQ class). Our visiting instructors will be coming from universities in California, Oregon, Hawaii, Arizona, New Mexico, Illinois, North & South Carolina, Alabama, New York, Canada, and Germany. Classes from the Seattle, Bothell, and Tacoma UW campuses visit the Laboratories on field trips. Thus, the learning experience at Friday Harbor is a collaborative effort in many disciplines, involving participation by many different academic units.

It is not uncommon to hear students say that their experience at FHL was “the most valuable of my academic career." Students especially value the free access to facilities and research tools at our Labs, as evidenced by these comments in our 2013 exit surveys:
"I have had a great and very memorable 5 weeks here. Thanks to the staff, professors and facilities at FHL. I would recommend it to others, and I hope to come back sometime soon." "Excellent experience -- thank you!" "This place is wonderful. I will truly miss it!" "I loved my experience here at FHL. I can't wait to come back."

The computer lab is a central location for students to meet and collaborate. Students make use of software that is too expensive for them to buy such as ArcGIS, MATLAB, Adobe Creative Suite, Primer, SigmaPlot, SPSS, and many more.

Benefits to Students and the University

The four new iMac computers proposed for our student computer labs will make the computing environment more pleasant for students. The newer computers will be more responsive, more reliable, and have more easy-to-read displays.

Students regularly congregate in our student computer labs during the day and well into the evening. This environment gives students access to specialized software needed for their research projects. The student computer labs are also a convenient place to share files via our network storage and to access printing services. It's ideal for small groups of students who wish to collaborate on group projects. It also provides recreational computing facilities for students who just want to do email, Facebook, or other social media.

The still-functioning older iMacs being replaced in our student labs will still be available to students on loan for their use in other lab buildings for specialized tasks. For example, a student may wish to record video or still images from a microscope camera to a computer while conducting an experiment in the lab, or might need to record acoustic or neurological impulses from a tissue preparation from a sensor unit to a computer.

By updating our older computers, the quality of students research and the resulting reports will be enhanced. It is not uncommon for this student research to be re-worked into a scientific publication after a student's departure, or to become the nucleus of their future research, thus benefiting the academic record of the University.

Departmental Endorsements

***Dr. Megan Dethier, Associate for Academics and the Environment, Friday Harbor Laboratories
The computers in the computer lab are used at one time or another by every FHL class. For undergraduate research experiences and apprenticeships, we hold classes using those computers on occasions when we need all students to be online or working with software together; for instance, we work with them there on how to do searches on Web of Science and build bibliographies for their research projects. Or we give them an Excel database and work with them on how to manipulate spreadsheets and produce graphs; without those computers, it is impossible to do this kind of teaching effectively (e.g., we've tried this with each student on their laptop, but rapidly get stymied because we cannot teach when students have different operating systems, software versions, etc). Whole classes also use the computers in the lab for modeling exercises, working with GIS databases, and other skill-building activities that are inherent to the course. For the lower-level classes, students use the computers individually for assignments involving creating web pages, solving oceanographic problem sets, or for working with specialized software needed for analyses but which they cannot afford, such as PRIMER-e for multivariate statistics. Having a whole room full of functioning, up to date computers with modern software and quality internet access is a tremendous boon to teaching and to student research.

*** Dr. Billie J. Swalla, Director, Friday Harbor Laboratories
The University of Washington's Friday Harbor Laboratories continue to contribute to the major teaching and research initiatives of marine sciences in the College of the Environment and we appreciate that STF is a critically important partner. We have a world-class FHL research apprenticeship program for undergraduates to conduct research for a quarter, with a new endowment for student support. This intense training program includes major reliance upon state-of-the-art research tools to permit undergraduate students to learn how to plan, conduct and present (in public and publication modes) modern research.
FHL's undergraduate educational effort has also been supported generously by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Microsoft, Mary Gates Endowment, Washington Research Foundation, and others. In addition, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded FHL $303,000 for three years of undergraduate REU Program support, which has been combined with our existing Blinks endowment and money from BEACON to support 15-18 undergraduates conducting research at FHL each summer. Many of our other undergraduate classes, in fall spring and summer, also include research projects by the students.
FHL is continuously working to provide increased financial support to all its programs, including explicitly instructional and research training efforts, from non-State of Washington sources (private foundations, individuals, and federal sources). This initiative has resulted in development of support up to about 75% of the apprenticeship program from non-UW sources. However, this also requires, as a crucial prerequisite, stable support for our physical plant and supplemental support for student technology tools. Thus STF support continues to be fundamentally important leverage to keep our computer lab up to date.
Our computer lab proposal this year is for replacement of 4 older computers in the lab that have begun to malfunction and need replacement. This will also allow students to process data more quickly. We also need to replace the older color printer in the computer lab.
I strongly support this initiative by Alan Cairns, and urge its support by the STF.*

Installation Timeline

To be ordered and installed as soon as funds are available.

Resources Provided by Department

Note that our Laboratories are located on San Juan Island, isolated from the main Seattle campus of the University. Thus, there are no "nearby" resources from other universities or departments.

Students have access to our Student Computer Lab 24/7, using a key code for after-hours. This lab provides 18 iMac computers that can boot into Mac OS X or Windows 7. Linux is available on all machines through virtualization. There are 2 printers, and 2 scanners. Smaller computing areas (with 4 or 5 common-use computers) are available in the Fernald Building and the Lecture Hall.

Our department provides students with a wireless network in all lab buildings and student housing. We contract with NoaNet and K20 for our connection to the Internet.

Access Restrictions (if any)

The proposed computers will be available to students without restriction. Our main Student Computer Lab is accessible 24/7; when locked after business hours students may still enter by means of a key code. Our smaller computer lab in the Fernald Classroom is routinely locked at night, but students may obtain a key from the office for after-hours use.

Student Endorsements

From Fall, 2014 Catalyst student survey at the end of the term in response to "Did the FHL computer facilities meet your needs? Please explain.":

"Yes, I love the computer lab. It has more than enough computers, and the capability for Mac or Windows, which is really nice. I really appreciated that they were available whenever needed and that they were a quiet workspace when needed."

"Yes, there was a good number of computers for students to use at the computer lab and internet speed was great. However, the printer by the computer lab that most students relied on frequently did not work at night, when there was no one to help me figure out why. "

"Above and beyond--thank-you for providing these valuable resources!"

"Yes, they had the statistical software I needed and were great."

"Yes, when i first got here i thought, people still use computer labs? I quickly found out it is a great place to work with wonderfully big screens for excel work and presentation development. "


Group Funded Item Unit price Quantity Subtotal
High priority

21.5" iMac 2.9 GHz

$1,399.00 8 $11,192.00

21.5" iMac 2.9GHz with 8GB RAM.


Four of our older computers in the lab are beginning to fail and need to be replaced. Some students need faster processors to manage computationally intense tasks.


Xerox Phaser 8570DN Color Printer

$823.53 1 $823.53

Xerox Phaser 8570DN Color Printer with duplex and ethernet

CDW quote:


Students need to print data that requires color for for clarification.

AppleCare Repair Agreement

$119.00 8 $952.00


Standard warranty is for 90 days of phone support and 1 year for replacement parts. This agreement ensures 3 years of both.

Sales Tax

$661.95 2 $1,323.90


Total requested: $7,557.48

Total funded: $14,291.43


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