SHSU has occupied the facility where the lab is located since October 2009 and has been in the process of purchasing and installing laboratory equipment and setting up the lab. Laboratory personnel have also been recruited and hired.The Conroe Courier reports:
The 5,000 square-foot facility was previously a biotechnology lab and already had most of the structural and mechanical features required for a crime lab. Sam Houston State is leasing the facility for now and plans to move the operation to the university in the future.
The SHSU Regional Crime Lab contains advanced technology that enables a quicker turnaround. Mary Jane, Smokey and Zeuss are the nicknames of three of the laboratory’s five Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometers, or GS-Mass Specs, which break down substances to help determine their chemical makeup.
The lab also houses a Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscope, which bounces light off objects to analyze small particles, and a polarizing light microscope, which is used to see characteristic chrystalization of drugs. Both are housed in the controlled substance room.
[Lab director Sarah] Kerrigan said the lab cost about $2.3 million and they saved nearly $1 million by not building it on the SHSU campus and designing the lab using “value engineering.” The lab should cost about $1 million to run annually, although she hopes it will become self-sustaining.