The Genetics of Taste Lab

Public Participation in Scientific Research


The Genetics of Taste Lab is the First crowdsourced and citizen science-driven human genetics lab of its kind.

The Fatty Acid Study is Officially Completed! The next opportunity to join our research will start on November 6, 2015, when "A SweetTasting Study" will open to the public. We look forward to seeing you then!


Thank 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 a quote below to get free access to our peer-reviewed publications! 







Who we are and what we do:

We are open 7 days a week to Museum guests. You can look in and see how a real molecular lab works and watch scientists in action. Maybe watching isn't enough, which is why the lab is open to anyone 8 years or older (with legal guardian) to be a part of our research. We have a strong focus on enrolling families, twins, and multiples into each study, so bring your family along! Our next study will open to the public on November 6, 2015.

Click here to learn about our previous taste study!



Final update on Participants in the Fatty Acid Taste Study as of August 4, 2015
Total Number of Participants: 1020!

 1000 Enrollments -FA Study


 This research experience is free with Museum admission, takes about 30 minutes, and is subject to the availability of our citizen-scientists working in the lab that day.  

This project was originally funded by a Science Education Partnership Award from the National Institute of Health (Award #R25RR025066)


Meet our Citizen Scientists

  • Citizen-scientist Patty with Rebecca Jacobson of PBS

  • 2011 Volunteer Appreciation Dinner

  • Citizen-Scientists Gabby Parker and Tim Dubois

  • Wed AM Citizen-Scientists: Wim, Mike and Willy


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

  • 2010 TSS Cristal, Katie & Quang

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. 


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

We are lucky to have many established partnerships with the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, and through these partnerships there are opporuntities for stduents and interns.


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 2015. We will reopen the application process in 2016. (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

  • 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 TEDxYouth@MileHigh: 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.

Have a Question?

Fill out my online form.



^ Back to Top