The Genetics of Taste Lab

The Savory and Sour Study

"The Savory and Sour Study" is open!

It’s free with Museum admission, and available to anyone 8 years and older (8-17 with parent or legal guardian present) on a first come, first serve basis. Hope to see you soon!  Se habla español.


Are you a taste researcher? We're taking proposals for our 2018-19 study! Learn more.

$1M Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA)

The Museum was awarded $1 million from the National Institutes of Health Science Education Partnership Award Program to conduct citizen science-based research about taste, one of the largest research grants in the Museum’s history.


The studies will take place over four years in the Genetics of Taste Lab, home to a distinctive model of research using crowdsourced data from Museum guests who volunteer to participate. The NIH grant, led by Nicole Garneau, PhD, principal investigator and curator of health sciences, will start with a sour taste study that launched in November 2016. Previous studies in the lab, which is located in Expedition Health, have helped to debunk the term “supertaster,” have provided evidence that fat is the sixth taste, and have explored how the human microbiome―the unique group of bacteria in and on each person’s body—affects the way we taste sweet.


The grant will also fund research into how citizen scientists learn in community labs, and how citizen science projects might attract more diverse participants. The Museum is partnering with Joseph Polman, professor of learning sciences and human development at the University of Colorado, to conduct this additional layer of research.


Community Collaboration Project

“DMNS collaborates with communities to support and create diverse and meaningful experiences around exploration of the natural world, both beyond and within the Museum’s walls.”


Learn more about the Genetics of Taste Lab Community Collaboration Project

Community Engagement


Be a part of our research team!

Volunteer community scientists support the community-based Genetics of Taste Lab by collecting data from Museum guests during enrollments, processing and preparing DNA samples, sequencing DNA and entering data into our database.

If you are age 16 or older, click here to apply today!


High School Comunidad Scientists Program

We are piloting a partnership with Hinkley High School, College Track Denver, College Track Aurora , Lincoln High School, Metro Migrant Education Program, William Smith High School and Aurora West College Preparatory Academy to offer Latino teens volunteer positions in the Genetics of Taste Lab (if you are not from any of the aforementioned high schools but would still like to apply, please email [email protected]). Click here to apply today.

For more information, please contact [email protected].


Arrupe Jesuit High School Corporate Work study Program in the Genetics of Taste Lab

The Museum has partnered with Arrupe Jesuit High School to create an invaluable learning and work experience for students through the Corporate Work Study Program (CWSP). This program provides students with real world job experiences while allowing them to earn a large portion of the cost of their education. The students are getting work experience and building their life skills in the Genetics of Taste Lab.


Teen Science Scholars Program

The scientists and curators at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science strongly support the Teen Science Scholars program. Funded by individual donors and foundations, the program gives local high school students the opporunity to gain hands-on experience via a paid summer intership.

For more information visit the Teen Science Scholars Webpage.

University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus


Free! Access our Publications Here!

Gaeneau _Nuessle _PaperThank you to the community, as both study participants and citizen scientists, for your continual support since we opened in 2009! It has been an adventure getting a community lab started, from citizen science to crowdsourcing and we now can share the fruits of our joint labor: PUBLICATIONS!

Click on any of the media quotes and titles below to get free access to our peer-reviewed publications! For media coverage of our lab, click on the "In the News" tab located below this section. 

Contact Us

  • Members of the Media: Please contact Maura O’Neal at 303-370-6407 or at [email protected] and she will get back to you immediately to help you get what you need to meet your deadline.
  • For the Genetics of Taste Lab: Please contact Tiffany Nuessle or Anjelica Miranda at 303-370-6330 or at [email protected] to make an appointment. She will get back to you within 3 business days.
  • For the Health Sciences Department: Please contact Courtney Scheskie at 303-370-6334 or at [email protected] and she will get back to you within 3 business days.

In the News

  • ColoradoBiz Magazine, Top 5 Announced! "Nicole Garneau, Taking taste to a new level." (01/2018)
  • ColoradoBiz Magazine. "GenXYZ Top 25 Young Professionals." (01/2018)
  • Maine Policy Review. "Cutting edge citizen science in the desert and in a museum." (12/2017)
  • Vail Daily. Driscoll, K. “Breckenridge Big Beers festival: Neuroscience explains why beer isn’t your best bet to knock down spicy foods.” (1/10/2018)
  • Denver Post (print). Frank, J. “This style of beer actually makes the sting of hot wings worse.” (1/10/2018)
  • The Know. Frank, J. “This style of beer actually makes the sting of hot wings worse.” (1/8/2018)
  • Telemundo Denver. “El que sabe, sabe. ¿Qué sabes de sabores?” (12/18/2017)
  • SoundCloud. Thode, KM. “Interview Podcast with Dr. Nicole Garneau.” (12/10/2017)
  • Fox31. “Savory and Sour Taste Study." (11/29/17)
  • The Peer Revue. Nuessle, W. “Tiffany Nuessle takes on taste.” (11/21/2017)
  • CBS4. Hillan, J. "Denver Museum Of Nature & Science Needs Taste Testers For Study.” (11/15/2017)
  • 5280 Magazine. Mickelsen, D. "Taste Tests." (11/2017)
  • Planete + (France). Scala, S. "Nos 5 Sens, LES MYSTÈRES DU GOÛT." (10/25/2017)
  • Telemundo Denver. “¿Quieres saber cómo funciona tu cuerpo?” (10/17/2017)
  • DIY Sci TV Show (Europe only), Season Two. (09/2017)
  • BrainScoop. Graslie, E. "The Human Biology Collection." 07/19/2017).
  • Denver Post. Carmen, D. "Everybody loses on in the war on science." (4/23/2017).
  • Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine. Johnson, G. "Ms. Understood: How to market beer to women." (04/2017)
  • Colorado State University. Jensen, B. "Taste of Success: Nicole Garneau puts beer on the map." (04/2017)
  • Met Media. Holt, R. "Nicole Garneau studies age-old pairings brought from kitchen to lab." (3/11/2017)
  • Kellogg, B. "8 Women in Craft Beer Who are Making a Mark Right Now." (3/7/2017)
  • Denver Post. Worthington, D. "'Beer me' in the name of science: museum brings back popular crowdtasting study." (2/23/17)
  • TED Radio Hour. Raz, G. "Nicole Garneau: Are There More Than Five Basic Tastes." (1/2017)
  • How to market beer to women. Johnson, G. Publisher, Women Enjoying Beer. (09/2016)
  • Denver Post. Frank, J. "The Science Behind Why You Love (or Hate) Certain Beers, If At All." (3/2016) 
  • Colorado Matters, Colorado Public Radio. Maddox, K. “Beer, Food And ... Genetics? It's On Tap At The Museum Of Nature And Science.” (3/2016)
  • We Have the Technology: How Biohackers, Foodies, Physicians, and Scientists Are Transforming Human Perception, One Sense at a Time. Platoni, K. Publisher, Basic Books. 2015.
  • Beer Pairing: The Essential Guide from the Pairing Pros. Herz & Conley. Publisher, Voyageur Press. 2015.
  • Colorado Matters, Colorado Public Radio. Dukakis, A. "Is Bacteria The Reason For Your Sweet Tooth?" (11/2015)
  • KUNC. Ogburn, S. "Is Fat The Sixth Taste? Denver Museum Goers Help Scientists With Mystery." (03/2015)
  • CBS4. Gionet, A. "Girls & Science Aims To Change Thinking About Careers." (02/2015)
  • Colorado Public Radio.  Denerstein, B.  “How accurate is that 'Alien?' Denver scientists head to the movies.” (7/2014)
  • IM'UNIQUE. Oswego Productions. “A healthy world where all people are inspired, united and unique.” (6/2014)
  • Cuisine of Loneliness. Cole, C.A. “The Blue Tongue Project: Finding Inspiration at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science”(6/2014)
  • Hispanic Business. “Denver Museum of Nature & Science Scientist Challenges Supertaster Phenomenon,” (6/2014)  
  • Medical News Today. “Researchers challenge scientific theory with the help of citizen scientists.” (5/2014)
  • Daily Mail Online (UK). Macrae, F.  “Bumpy tongue? It doesn't make you a top taster: How whether we like spicy or bitter foods is actually determined by our genes.” (5/2014)
  • BioCompare. “Citizens Help Researchers to Challenge Scientific Theory.”  (5/2014)
  • Science Daily. “Supertasters do not have particularly high density of taste buds on tongue, crowdsourcing shows.  (5/2014)
  • redOrbit. Smith, B. “Taste Receptor Gene Determines How Well We Sense Food.” (5/14)
  • The Independent. Connor, S. “Taste has nothing to do with the bumpiness of your tongue, say scientists.” (5/2014)

*please note, the article incorrectly identifies Museum guests that participated in the research study as "citizen scientists." This term has a very specific meaning representing volunteers that are trained to collect, prepare and process, and help analyze data. We have requested a correction with the author, but regretfully were not granted it. Therefore additional news outlets that indexed this story are not captured here.

  • French Tribune. Totolos, B. “Sensory Papillae’s Density not Linked with Ability to Taste Certain Kind of Bitter Components.” (5/2014)
  • MedicalPress. “Citizens help researchers to challenge scientific theory.” (5/2014)
  • MileHighTEDx. Faktorow, S. “Speaking at [email protected]: An Insider’s Perspective.” (5/2014)
  • Murphy-Niedziela, M. & Bui L. “The Genetics of Taste: A Sixth Taste?” (2/2014)
  • MEDILLreports. Actman, J. “Link between genes and a taste for fatty acids.” (2/2014)
  • StudentScience. Brookshire, B. “Using citizen science to find a new taste.” (12/2013)
  • NewsSentinel. Slaby, M.J. “Purdue professor works to determine if fat is 6th taste sense.” (11/2013)
  • Westword. Hemmert, N. “Denver Museum of Nature and Science on the hunt for a sixth taste sense.” (11/2013)
  • 9NEWS. Dyer, K. “Science on tap: the science behind beer.” (7/2013)
  • 5280 Online.  Hausheer, J. “Science on Tap: Denver Beer Co. Serves a Brew Made from the Wilds of City Park. Really.” (7/2013)
  • Conoce Colorado.  Guzmán, J. “Visita al museo de Ciencias Naturales de Denver.” (7/2013)
  • Northglenn-Thornton Sentinel. “DMNS role in healthcare showcased in national report.” (7/2013)
  • Westword. Shikes, J. “The DMNS and Denver Beer Co conduct a wild brewing experiment with City Park yeast.” (6/2013)
  • Microbes Rule! Martin, M. “ASMCUE, Citizen Science, and a Surprise!” (5/2013)
  • Total Health Blog. Eytan, T. “Participation in Science, too – at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.” (2/2012)
  • 5280 Magazine. Sukin, G. “Citizen Scientist.” (1/2013)
  • Denver Post. Davidson, J. “A Night in Pompeii benefits Denver Museum of Nature & Science.” (11/2012)
  • Denver Post, YourHub. Wilbanks, C. “Expedition Health at Denver Museum of Nature and Science.”  (6/2012)
  • University of Colorado, Newsroom. “Our Own Science Guy.” (1/2012)
  • Colorado Bioscience Institute. (12/2012)
  • Denver Business Journal. “Congratulations to our 2012 Forty under 40 Nominees.” February 10-16, 2012. A24.
  • American Society for Microbiology Microbe Magazine. “International Affairs: Millis-Colwell Exchange Program.” 11(6):505. 2011.
  • Denver Westword Blogs. Klosowski, T. “We talk with the DMNS Curator of Health Sciences about Gattaca.” (4/2011).
  • PBS Newshour Online. Jacobson, R. “The Bitter Taste of Genetics.” (12/2010)
  • Around the Oval. Etter, B. “A Bitter Taste in the Mouth.” Winter 2010: 6.
  • Rocky Mountain PBS. “Genetics of Taste.” Aired numerous times 2010-present.
  • Labconco Newsletter. Williams, K. “A New Paramount in the Rockies, Customer Spot Light.” April 2010.
  • Member Magazine.  Holtman, L. “Meet Our Newest Curator.” February/March 2010: 7.



  • umbraco.MacroEngines.DynamicXml
    Nicole Garneau, PhD

    Curator and Department Chair, Health Sciences
    [email protected]

  • Tiffany Nuessle, MA

    Research Manager
    [email protected]
    office: 303.370.6330
    lab: 303.370.6333

  • umbraco.MacroEngines.DynamicXml
    Courtney Scheskie

    Courtney Scheskie, Office Manager

  • Esmarie Swisher

    Community Liaison
    [email protected]

  • Anjelica Miranda

    Lab Assistant
    [email protected]

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