The Genetics of Taste Lab

The Science of Sour Study

"The Science of Sour Study" now open through August 11, 2017!

Want to learn more about fermentation, citrus fruits and sour taste? Check out this tasty cartoon and then come see us in the Genetics of Taste Lab. It’s free with Museum admission, and available to anyone 8 years and older (8-17 with legal guardian). Hope to see you soon!

Contact Us

  • Members of the Media: Please contact Maura O’Neal at 303-370-6407 or at 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 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 and she will get back to you within 3 business days.

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 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. 

$1M SEPA Award

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.

Citizen Science Model

Community Participation: Research & Educational Goals

The Genetics of Taste Lab is a unique venue for both citizen science AND crowdsourcing health data.

  • We connect our community to research that is relevant to their lives.
  • We conduct research to answer real public health questions and publish in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Be a part of our research team!

Volunteer citizen 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 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.

Community Partnerships & Internships

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.

In the News

*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.

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  • umbraco.MacroEngines.DynamicXml
    Nicole Garneau, PhD

    Curator and Department Chair, Health Sciences

  • Tiffany Nuessle, MA

    Research Manager
    office: 303.370.6330
    lab: 303.370.6333

  • Neha Gidvani

    Educator/Coordinator for Health Gallery Programs

  • Wesley Jones

    Coordinator of Volunteers for Health Sciences

  • Jamie Klein

    Jamie Klein, Exhibits Project Manager

  • umbraco.MacroEngines.DynamicXml
    Courtney Scheskie

    Courtney Scheskie, Office Manager

  • Tim Housand

    Technical Operations Supervisor

  • Esmarie Swisher

    Community Liaison

  • Anjelica Miranda

    Lab Assistant

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