Gene Team

Our Mission:

The Gene Team aimes to engage students in current research in Biological Sciences and provide college preparatory mentoring. Our goal is to increase participation in biological research from groups that are historically underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math.


Gene Team Summer Program: Gene Team-at-Home

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gene Team-at-Home will be offered for students from our local urban school districts during the summer of 2021. 

We are looking for a group of scientific-minded high school students who want to learn more about Biology while collecting data from home! You will be immersed in data collection that contributes to ongoing research questions over the course of the 4-week program. Additionally, we will take time to focus on strategies and skills that will be invaluable for applying to and succeeding in college. There is also a possibility that we will be able to spend a little time together on campus...keep an eye out for updates! No prior lab experience is necessary.  Pitt’s Biology Outreach team will provide you with all necessary safety training, scientific background, and instruction and you will work in a team with fellow high school students. All of the data collection will happen at your home or in the environment around your house. Pitt will supply any necessary research tools needed.

Location:     Your house!


Dates:          June 28th-July 23rd, 2021

                     There will be daily check-ins, times TBD, and ongoing group communication

Contact:      Dr. Becky Gonda:  

Sign up:       Sign up using this online form by April 16th


Gene Team-at-Home FAQ

  1. What will I be doing in the program? You will carry out research and data collection at home, teamed with other high-school students. You will also attend weekly virtual sessions that provide strategies and skills for applying for college. The projects for this summer include at-home molecular and microbiology and ecological studies that you can do in your own yard and neighborhood.
  2. What are the educational qualifications? You must have completed one year of high school Biology in PPS (or other local urban school).
  3. Do I need to have had previous research experience? No, we will learn together and teach you everything that you will need to know.  
  4. What are the working hours for the program? You will set your own pace on data collection. There will be daily check-ins and group meetings, but you can collect data around your own schedule.
  5. Do I get paid? Unfortunately, we cannot pay students for their participation. However, there are no costs to participate, and all reagents and supplies will be provided.
  6. How do I apply for this program? Complete the online application form no later than April 16th, 2021
  7. When will I find out if I'm accepted to the program? All interested students who are willing to work hard will be accepted. You will hear from Outreach faculty in May concerning logistics of participation.
  8. How do I get more information or answers to other questions? Contact Dr. Becky Gonda at   We welcome all questions and would love to speak with you about the program.

Sign up here:

Gene Team-at-Home 2021 application 


Check out last year's Gene Team-at-home final projects! They worked on three projects: Urban Biodiversity, Sourdough Starters, and an Independent project of their choosing. 

Gene Team 2020 Youtube channel




Gene Team Science Corps

The Gene Team Science Corps provides an opportunity for high school students who participated in the Gene Team summer research program to share their love of science with younger students in their home school districts.


Aliya's alleles

Students explore the relationship between dominant and recessive alleles in a fun and exciting way!  Pairs of students each receive a deck of cards that represent different versions of alleles for hair color, eye color, the presence of absence of dimples, and other inherited traits.  They must determine which of the alleles is dominant and then draw a final representation of their "offspring".

Giraffe necks and natural selection: the long and short of it

Participants temporarily become giraffes to demonstrate how traits are passed down through generations and can become more abundant if they are beneficial to an organisms survival.  An equal number of students act as giraffes with short necks or long necks and gather food from "trees" that are set up in the classroom.  Giraffes that are able to gather sufficient food to survive are able to recruit more friends to their team.  Long neck giraffes are more effective at accumulating their favorite foods from high atop the trees and demonstrate that, over multiple generations, a beneficial trait becomes more prevalent in the population.

It's not magic, It's Science!

Students learn the science behind magical-looking phenomena like dry ice, layering densities, and what makes water a very special molecule.  They get up close and personal with these hands-on activites and delve into the science to learn more about the world around them!