Kohut Teaching Lab
The Kohut Teaching Lab is an educational laboratory and a resource for learning and sharing. Generously donated by the late Helen and George Kohut, the Kohut Teaching Lab is a space for researchers, educators, and students of all ages and scientific backgrounds to become involved in plant science.
This lab is equipped to function as both a wet laboratory and a classroom space. With three computers, a SmartBoard projector, and lab bench space for up to 14, the lab is an ideal space for learning.
The Kohut Teaching Lab is used regularly as the lab space for the Tompkins-Cortland Community College (TC3) Biology 101 class – a partnership between TC3 and BTI’s Postgraduate Society (PGS). The course allows TC3 students to have their laboratories held in a state-of-the-art facility and provides an opportunity for PGS members to gain teaching experience at a U.S. college.
During the summer months, the Kohut Teaching Lab hosts BTI’s Education and Outreach program, Curriculum Development Projects in Plant Biology, a week-long intensive program for middle and high school science teachers.
About Helen and George Kohut
George and Helen Kohut established the teaching laboratory at Boyce Thompson Institute through a bequest from their estate in 2004. Their relationship with the Institute was founded through their interest in the environmental research conducted here by their nephew Dr. Robert Kohut from 1980 through 2004.
George and Helen Kohut had long-term interests and experience in education, service and nature. George was a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, BS and MS, and subsequently a Fulbright Scholar. He went on to teach physical education, history and science for 34 years and coached football, basketball and golf. He was a member of the US Golf Association and very active in programs introducing youth to the sport of golf. He enjoyed buying sets of used golf clubs, refurbishing them and giving them to aspiring young golfers. Helen earned a BS degree from Hartwick College and a MS from the University of Pittsburgh. She worked in child welfare and social services positions in several school districts in southern Pennsylvania and northern Maryland. She also worked in Washington, DC helping develop the first national Head Start Program. Both George and Helen appreciated the value of education; they knew what it had meant to them and understood what it could do for others.
They also enjoyed nature and were active in the outdoors. As a young man George had taken a long canoe trip with a friend down the Ohio River from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati. Helen was a highly skilled birdwatcher and an expert in wildflower identification. They took numerous Elder Hostel trips that allowed them to enjoy and learn about natural areas, wildlife and geology throughout the United States. Helen was proud that she could recite in geological sequence all the rock strata found in the Grand Canyon. They supported numerous local and national environmental organizations, were active in the National Audubon Society and life members of the Nature Conservancy. Their interest in environmental issues lead to them making annual financial contributions to the Institute that helped support Dr. Kohut’s research.
Both George and Helen Kohut died as a result of an automobile accident in April 2003. Their love of education and appreciation of the research conducted at Boyce Thompson Institute led them to make a significant bequest that was used to establish the teaching laboratory here. Over the past 10 years, the laboratory has come to play a significant role in the execution of outreach and education programs at the Institute.