Spreading Blue Tongue Love!

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By Meghan Sloan, MA

This post comes directly from the field! Meghan Sloan (see picture above), one of our fantastic staff members from the science laboratory in Expedition Health writes:

In late January I visited Mrs. Waage's class at McLain Community High School to talk about the coolest job I've ever had: A museum scientist and laboratory staff member, and to discuss the Genetics of Taste research that we are conducting at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

The best part of my talk that day was showing the students how taste bud density differs from person to person by having the students stain each other's tongues blue.  We found out that counting taste buds on wiggly tongues is quite hard to do, but that indeed each student had a unique pattern of fungiform papillae (the bumps on our tongues that contain taste buds)!  Students also determined their taster status by taking a taste test to see if they could taste the bitter compound called PROP that we study in the Genetics of Taste lab. Finally, the students learned how to collect a DNA sample without it getting contaminated, something that is so important to ensuring good DNA results.  Not only did we spread the blue tongue love, I think we also spread an interest in science and will hopefully see some of these students in the lab!

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