Stanford at The Tech

Are you a grad student or post-doc within any biology oriented department at Stanford?

Ever wish that...

- the public better understood science?
- kids had more opportunities to do hands-on science?
- you could tell your grandma what you do in the lab?

Here's your chance to make those wishes come true!

The Stanford Department of Genetics offers graduate students and post-docs in any biology department the chance to work at The Tech Museum of Innovation (The Tech) for one morning/week for two quarters. You'll get on the job training in presenting science to the public in person and in writing.

Things you'll do at The Tech:

- Running floor programs: Guide visitors through hands-on genetics activities like making necklaces with their own DNA, running agarose gels to solve a murder, looking at their own cheek cells under a microscope, and more. Use your expertise to answer their questions about genetics.

- Write for the web: Contribute to The Tech's online exhibit, Understanding Genetics, by answering questions at Ask a Geneticist and providing articles on current hot topics in genetics to Genetics in the News.

- Final project: 
In your second quarter, you'll take everything you've learned and work on developing a "final project" of your own. These final projects can be new programs for the exhibit floor, something new for the web, or even additions to the exhibition.

- Genetics Carnival:
Every fall we pack up and head to Overfelt High School in San Jose where we run our hands on programs in the classroom. We try to hit every freshman biology class every year.

- Other activities: 
You can also help teach classes, give talks, prototype new programs and exhibits, update the floor exhibition or anything else useful you can dream up.

About the Program

The program is part of an ongoing collaboration between the Stanford Department of Genetics and The Tech Museum of Innovation. Together these two partners created two exhibitions. The first, Genetics: Technology with a Twist lasted 10 years until it was replaced with the newest exhibition, BioDesign Studio.

Stanford graduate students and post-docs like you serve a critical role in the success of this latest exhibition. You'll provide your expertise in answering guests' questions both at the museum and on the web. In addition, you'll help out at the most popular part of the exhibit by providing the raw materials for the Living Colors Lab.

At the museum, you'll run some of the seven floor programs that are designed to give visitors a hands-on experience with genetics. On the web, you'll write answers to people's questions at "Ask a Geneticist", or contribute articles on "Genetics in the News." At the end, you'll create and/or implement a final project that will live on at The Tech after you've gone.

Stanford graduate students and postdocs get high school students excited about genetics at the Genetics Carnival at Overfelt High School in San Jose (October 2015)

Graduate student Vivian Chen helps museum visitors make necklaces that carry their very own DNA. (May 2017)

Program Specifics

1. You must be a graduate student or post-doc at Stanford. It is not necessary to be part of the Department of Genetics. Graduate students must have completed their first year coursework, and cannot participate in the same quarter as qualifying exams.

2. A commitment of 4-6 hours/week for 2 quarters is required. Generally, you will spend 2-3 hours per week at The Tech, and spend the rest of the time writing for Ask a Geneticist, completing short assignments, or working on a final project.

3. During the second quarter, participants will work on a final project. You can either come up with something new or select from a variety of existing options.

4. A small stipend is provided for your time. The stipend is equivalent to helping to teach a class for one quarter in the Department of Genetics, spread out over 2 quarters. In other words, you get half of the usual stipend during each of your two quarters.

5. While there is a waitlist to get in to the program (typically ~1 year), there is some flexibility for older students and post-docs. Email Dr. Thompson with a short explanation of why the program would be a good fit for you, and she will see if it is possible to fit you in sooner.

Stanford graduate students Cameron Berry and Jenny Hsu help preschoolers pull DNA out of strawberries. (April 2016)

Graduate student Laura Lee puts the finishing touches on a final project that involves gene editing with CRISPR-Cas9 in yeast. (March 2017)

If you are interested in being part of this program, please email Abbey Thompson to find out more information about how to get started.

This project was supported by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from the National Center For Research Resources, National Institutes of Health. Its content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of NCRR or NIH.