Health Sciences

The Health Sciences Department serves Museum visitors through the exploration of the biological principles of modern human biology

The focus of the Health Sciences Department is three-fold. They create new knowledge in the field of human biology by utilizing community-based research methods to study how genetic variation influences the everyday experience of modern humans. 

Featured Research


Health sciences at the Museum began with the opening of the exhibition Hall of Life, in 1987. The exhibition used hand-on exhibits and complementary education programs to engage visitors and schools in the health sciences. Building on this success, a Health Sciences Initiative was developed as part of the Museum 20/20 strategic plan , and a Health Sciences Department was established, with Dr. Bridget Coughlin hired as the first PhD-level scientist for the department. The Hall of Life exhibition area was renovated and reopened as Expedition Health in 2009, with a renewed focus on human biology using a Rocky Mountain region theme. In 2009, the Museum hired Dr. Nicole Garneau as a second curator in the Health Sciences Department and launched the Genetics of Taste Lab, the first community-based participatory laboratory that studies molecular genetics. More than 10,000 members of the public participated in six research projects between 2009 and 2019.  In 2024 Dr. Bridget Chalifour was hired as a Research Scientist to move the lab into the next phase of Genetics research.

Health Sciences Staff

Bridget N. Chalifour, PhD

Genomics Scientist

Tiffany Nuessle, MA

Research Manager in the Genetics Lab

Garth M. Spellman, PhD

Director of Zoology & Health Sciences, Curator of Ornithology

Courtney J. Scheskie, MA

Business Support Specialist III

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