The Genetics of Taste Lab

Public Participation in Scientific Research


The Genetics of Taste Lab is the only community-based and citizen science-driven human genetics lab of its kind.

We are open 7 days a week to visitors who want to look in and see how a real molecular lab works and watch real scientists in action. We enroll over 1,500 Museum guests a year in our community-based genetics lab to study how genetics affects taste and health.


Click here to learn about our new taste study!

Maybe watching isn't enough, which is why we want YOU to be a part of our current study to determine if there are more than just the five confirmed tastes of sweet, sour, salty, umami, and bitter. The lab is open to anyone 8 years or older (with legal guardian), and we have a strong focus on enrolling families, twins, and multiples into the study.


Updated Data on Participants as of December 2, 2013
Current Total: 72! (46 Females, 26 Males)

FA Update 2013-12-3


This research experience is free with Museum admission, takes about 45 minutes, and is subject to the availability of our citizen-scientists working in the lab that day.

Follow the Lab at #GeneticsofTaste


Meet our Citizen Scientists


Our Citizen Scientists are volunteers that donate their time to conducting real and authentic human genetics studies in the areas of taste and health.


What do our citizen scientists enjoy most about working in the community-based Genetics of Taste Lab?

  • Interactions with peers
  • The opportunity to work in a scientific lab
  • Learning new things
  • Contributing to something of value

Not surprisingly, the majority of citizen scientists and exhibit guides bring both a passion for science and relevant training and professional experiences to their positions at the museum.

CS Eval

*Data reference: Genetics of Taste Summative Evaluation Report, prepared for the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, by Patricia A. McNamara (Independent Evaluator)


Be a part of our research team!

Volunteer sitizen 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.

One 4.5-hour shift per week, 8:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. or 12:30 p.m.-5:00 p.m.

Minimum Commitment:
All citizen scientists begin their one year commitment by volunteering for a minimum of 6 weeks in Expedition Health as an Exhibit Guide. Following this training, volunteers may elect to apply for transition into the Genetics of Taste Lab as a citizen scientist.
Age Requirement:
Available to individual applicants 16 and older.  Volunteers must be 18 and older to enroll guests in the Genetics of Taste research study.

To apply: Please complete our Adult Volunteer Application (PDF | 627KB) and mail to:
Volunteer Program
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
2001 Colorado Blvd.
Denver, CO 80205-5798

Please remember that volunteer placement is a selective process and not all applicants are accepted into the program. The Museum reserves the right to place volunteers in the area staff feels is best suited to the applicant's skills and the needs of the Museum.

Yo Pearl The Science Girl

Who is Yo Pearl the Science Girl?

A cartoon science hero with a mission to make everyone a fan of cool science.

Click to follow Yo Pearl the Science Girl as she tackles new discoveries, hot science topics, your questions and sometimes the just plain weird science.!/yopearlscigirl/


Questions submitted to Yo Pearl (using the form below, Facebook or Twitter) will be answered on the Museum's blog. Fire away and check back to see how this super science chick and her team of science experts tackle your questions.

Wanna know more about how Pearl was created? Click Here

Community Partnerships & Internships

Genetics of Taste Research Partnerships

Check out our incredible team (on the right of the page). So much of our outreach and research could not be done without the help of these awesome volunteers both in the Museum and externally. A special thanks to the Rocky Mountain Taste and Smell Center for allowing the genetics team to particpate in weekly journal clubs and taste lab meetings.


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.


Colorado Bioscience Institute Internship Program

The Health Sciences Department works alongside the Colorado BioScience Institute on promoting health science careers for Coloradoans. Dr. Garneau is a founding board member of the Institute and chairs it's Education Committee. The Institute supports internships for local undergraduate and graduate students.

As an Institute intern, you will collaborate with professional scientists in the Genetics Lab at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. The program is open to students who can demonstrate their commitment to science-related goals. This is a summer program where students will work approximately 10 weeks between June 1 and August 31 and is open to students who are working towards either an undergraduate or graduate degree. This is an unpaid internship, and scheduling is flexible according to the assignment and other time committments of the student.

Each applicant must demonstrate an interest in science through their application, essay, have a strong interest in science communication and education, and supply a recommendation from a teacher or mentor. Students also should have leadership experience and a good academic background.

Applications are no longer being accepted for 2013. We will reopen the aplication process in 2014. (At that time, you will be able to find the application here and further information here. Please complete the application and submit with your personal essay to by this deadline. In addition, please have have your recommender directly mail your recommendation to the address below, date marked by the deadline indicated above.)

Kizra Sullivan
Health Sciences Department, Box 20
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
2001 Colorado Blvd
Denver, CO 80205

Candidates will be selected for in person intereviews, and those not selected will be notified by email.


In the News

MEDILLreports (2/2014)

StudentScience (12/2013)

NewsSentinel (11/2013)

Westword (11/2013)

9NEWS (7/2013)

5280 Online (7/2013)

Conoce CO (7/2013)

YourHub (7/2013)

Westword (6/2013)

AAM-US (6/2013)

MicrobesRule! (5/2013)

Ted Eytan, MD (2/2013)

5280 Magazine (1/2013)

Denver Post (11/2012)

YourHub (6/2012)

CU Newsroom (1/2012)

SciStarter (1/2012)

Westword (9/2011)

PBS Newshour (12/2010)

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