Gene Team

Our Mission:

The Gene Team aims 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:

Are you interested in studying biology in college?  If so, the Gene Team program at Pitt would love to hear from you!  We are looking for a group of scientific-minded high school students who want to learn more about Biology while developing laboratory skills.  You will be immersed in a current research project from a lab here at Pitt 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!

The Gene Team was founded in 2006 and is a proud participant in the NSF INCLUDES Alliance, STEM PUSH Network, a national network of precollege programs aiming to increase college enrollment for minoritized students. Gene Team has been accredited by Middles States Association for broadening participation in STEM.

Gene Team is offered exclusively to students from urban schools within the city.

Summer 2024: June 24th-July 19th, 9am-3pm Monday through Friday

Location: Langley Hall, University of Pittsburgh

Applications are closed for summer 2024

To be added to an email list to receive updates about Gene Team, please email Jess Robertson (


Gene Team FAQs

What will I be doing in the program? You will carry out state-of-the-art biomedical research projects, teamed with other high-school students. You will also attend weekly sessions that provide strategies and skills for applying for college.

What are the educational qualifications? You must have completed one year of high school Biology in PPS (or other local urban school).

Do I need to have had previous research experience? No, we will learn together and teach you everything that you will need to know.  Pitt faculty will be in lab each day for additional support and assistance.

What are the working hours for the program? You will be in the lab on the Pitt campus Monday through Friday, 9 AM to (approximately) 3 PM.

I have a family vacation planned.  Will I have to miss it? Probably. Because of the team structure, it is permissible for each participant to miss no more than 2 days of the summer session. We will have off July 4-5, 2024. You are not permitted to miss the first day or the last two day of the program.

Do I get paid? Yes. Students receive a $750 stipend, paid at the end of the program.

How about transportation to campus? Free Port Authority bus passes are available.

How do I apply for this program? A link to the application will be posted when applications are open. Applications are due May 10th.

When will I find out if I'm accepted to the program? Applicants will be notified by end of May 2024.

How do I get more information or answers to other questions? Contact Dr. Becky Gonda at 412-383-5739 or   We welcome all questions and would love to speak with you about the program.


Check out Gene Team-at-home final projects from 2020 and 2021! Students worked during the pandemic on multiple projects!

Gene Team 2020 YouTube channel

Gene Team 2021 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!