Campus mysteries, part 3

Part three: The Collegian braves the Science building’s “dungeon”

Toward the back of the old Science building, just beyond the main lobby’s study area is an unmarked, unlocked door. The door leads down three sets of winding stairs to another unmarked, unlocked door.

Welcome to the basement of the Science building, a place not many students will ever find themselves.

The occasional flickering light and the various doors labeled “Caution: Radio Active Material” adds to the cold, creepy atmosphere of the basement.

“I doubt the average student would know about the basement,” said biology professor Alice Wright. “Or about the The Dungeon.”

Wright spent eight years working in the basement, but came above ground this semester. The words: “The Dungeon” appear outside the room that once served as her office and laboratory.

“A couple of my students decided to call it that,” Wright said. “I guess the name is rather intimidating, and it doesn’t help that [the room] is hard to find.”

It is no longer there, but inscribed on the door was the phrase: “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.” The line is from Dante’s epic poem, “Inferno.” More specifically these are the words that appear on the entrance to hell.

“The students were just having fun,” Wright adds. “We aren’t trying to scare anyone.”

Those students have since graduated Wright said. Two have earned master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University.

Their time in The Dungeon was spent studying microbiology and bioremediation, and conducting varying research — hardly the hobbies of your average mad scientist.

“We like to have our jokes,” said Alejandro Calderon, an associate professor of developmental biology.

Calderon is The Dungeon’s new tenant.

“The biology department has limited space and our new microscopy equipment has forced me into the basement,” Calderon said.

Calderon has taught at Fresno State for nine years. He is considering changing his new laboratory’s title.

“It may be dark and cold down here, but it’s just not an attractive name,” Calderon said. “For now we’re just calling it the basement, but we’ll try to make the new name funnier.”

Students who work in The Dungeon now study plant developmental genetics. Graduate student Natalie Powers enjoys the space.

“It’s not really like a dungeon at all,” Powers, said. “It’s just called that because we’re in the basement.”

Powers, 23, a biology student from Lancaster, is working in The Dungeon this semester.

Besides the name, there’s nothing weird about The Dungeon’s laboratory space or the basement Powers said. “Although, there is a rumor that aliens are living in the audio/visual room a couple doors down.”

Do you know of a campus mystery? Share it with The Collegian’s Multimedia Editor Bryan Harley.

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