Start main page content


Within the School there are good research facilities. Plant tissue culture and cryopreservation is an active area of research. A state of art insectary is used for insect studies and biocontrol research. A Molecular Laboratory has the equipment for DNA extraction and amplification. A green house and controlled growth environments are used for plant studies. The excellent Life Sciences Museum incorporating the C.E. Moss Herbarium is used for systematics research. 

The University Electron Microscopy Unit is housed on the ground floor of the Biology Building and has several electron microscopes and a confocal microscope, plus extensive support equipment. The Central Animal Services maintains special laboratories providing animal housing and care.

The School has access to three field sites on a permanent basis. Dr Pullen left a portion of a farm in the Nelspruit area to the School of Biology. Mondi have built a research lab and accommodation in the Mntinzini area. The university supports the Wits Rural Facility near Acornhoek, near the Kruger Park, where much community-based ecological research is done. The School possesses six vehicles for fieldwork.

These facilities are state of the art growth chambers where the researcher can control temperature, humidity, day length and carbon dioxide concentration.

Drone footage of the new OLS greenhouse

In 2016, a state-of-the-art greenhouse was built on the Oppenheimer Life Sciences building rooftop to meet growing research demands in the School. The rooftop location was chosen due to its proximity to the AP&ES laboratories and its unobstructed exposure to sunlight. Within a few years, it became apparent that AP&ES needed to expand their research facility infrastructure, and in 2020 it was decided to build a second greenhouse on the same rooftop, which over time proved to be an ideal location.

Unlike the existing greenhouse, which is a shared space of 120 square meters, the newly completed greenhouse of the same size is divided into five separate climate-controlled rooms which can now accommodate users who require specific conditions for their research organisms. Temperature within each room is controlled via passive evaporative cooling and low energy consumption heaters. If less sunlight is required, a screen can be manually extended to reduce the light from above. An additional improvement over the existing greenhouse is the inclusion of an airconditioned laboratory within the structure, thus increasing the usefulness of the facility.

By continually investing in infrastructure to improve and expand research, AP&ES will continue to produce world class research and teaching and remain competitive globally.