With the opening of the Hsiao Laboratories in 2012, Fairchild launched a new era of community-based scientific research. A complex of four themed spaces with large windows to the outside, the Hsiao Laboratories are entirely visible to the public. The Laboratories have become an important component of the Fairchild visitor experience, and have become a venue for students and volunteers to participate in many kinds of research. We regularly host graduate students, college students, high school students, and volunteers from throughout the community to join us in our work. All of our current research projects were planned with community participation in mind.
Visible from within The Clinton Family Conservatory, the Jason Vollmer Metamorphosis Lab processes incoming pupae from butterfly farms throughout the world. Volunteers and students assist with the preparation of pupae for display. They monitor pupae through the hatching process and release the adult butterflies into the exhibit. With a large number of poorly known tropical butterfly species in our facility, we are able to collect previously unrecorded data on their growth and development.
The Micropropagation Lab is equipped for propagating and growing plants under sterile conditions, including plant tissue culture (cloning) and orchid seed germination. It is the main location for the laboratory components of the Million Orchid Project, supporting the propagation and development of eight species of rare South Florida orchids. The Micropropagation Lab is also used for developing and testing the orchid propagation techniques we are deploying within K-12 science classrooms throughout South Florida.
The Baddour DNA Laboratory is a working and teaching space focused on plant genetic studies. Current projects include research on the diversity of mangos and related Southeast Asian fruit crops, the genetics of Caribbean palms on the brink of extinction, the genetics of rare orchids in South Florida, and the evolution of plants within tropical island systems.
The Imaging Laboratory includes high-powered light microscopes and digital photography equipment for botanical and entomological study. The Imaging Lab is used for teaching and research on plant anatomy, plant cytology, and plant and insect micromorphology. It is the only laboratory of its kind in South Florida.