Fralin Hall was constructed in 1995 with funds provided by the United States Department of Agriculture and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Its operations are supported by a $5.3 million endowment provided by Horace G. Fralin. Tracy D. Wilkins, former director and Virginia Tech faculty member, was responsible for initial design, construction and operation of the building and his legacy continues through endowment support of outreach and undergraduate research activities. Located on West Campus Drive, the 44,324 sq. ft. building is home to the Fralin Life Science Institute’s administrative staff, as well as nine faculty researchers from the departments of entomology, fish and wildlife conservation, food science, and biochemistry. Dennis R. Dean, professor of biochemistry and current director of the Fralin Life Science Institute, is responsible for the Fralin Hall operations oversight.
Fralin Hall was specifically designed to serve all three missions of the university: research, education and outreach. Resources in the building include a facility for confocal microscopy, a fermentation and protein purification laboratory, an insectary, and a containment laboratory. Two teaching laboratories designed to support molecular biology, microbiology, and cell biology instruction can accommodate up to 30 students each. An adjacently located classroom to assist with laboratory instruction seats approximately 50. The outreach effort housed within the institute includes the popular Biotech-in-a-Box program, which provides instructional opportunities to high school and community college instructors throughout the Commonwealth. An atrium and a 96-seat auditorium are located near the administrative suite and provide venues for a variety of seminar series, selected classes, and science-related symposia and receptions. The board room, which also serves as the “Discovery Café,” is located on the first floor and provides space for small group meetings and an environment for social and scientific interaction. Several common areas are also available to researchers for meeting space and informal gatherings.