Exploring the Science of Genetics

Friday 3/30/2012


Columbus, Ohio

We expect people to look different. And why not? Like a fingerprint, each person is unique. Every person represents a one-of-a-kind, combination of their parents’, grandparents’ and family’s ancestry. And every person experiences life somewhat differently than others. We celebrate differences in personal identity, family background, country and language. At the same time, differences among people have been the basis for discrimination and oppression. Yet, are we so different?


Developed by the American Anthropological Association in collaboration with the Science Museum of Minnesota, RACE is the first nationally traveling exhibition to tell the stories of race from the biological, cultural, and historical points of view. Combining these perspectives offers an opportunity to take an unprecedented look at race and racism in the United States. RACE: Are we so different? has interactive exhibit components, historical artifacts, iconic objects, compelling photographs, multimedia presentations, and graphic displays to offer visitors an integrative and comprehensive view of this complex topic.


Exploring the Science of Genetics brought together scientists on the forefront of biology and genetics to discuss their work and their lives as African American scientists.  Each scientist presented five slides on themselves before discussing as a panel the implications of the Race exhibit.  The moderator for the program was Tracy Townsend, an Emmy award-winning anchor of 10TV.  The Center of Science & Industry (COSI) in Columbus was one of ScienceMakers' science centers partners in 2010, 2011, and 2012.


The participating scientists included:

  • Agnes Day, Professor of Biology, Howard University
  • Georgia Dunston, Professor of Biology, Howard University
  • Jan Gorniak, Coroner, Franklin County
  • J.K. Haynes, Professor of Biology, Morehouse College


During the student program, using the RACE exhibit as the backdrop, students toured the exhibit and engaged with their assigned scientists as they discussed their work on genetics and race. The students also had additional opportunities to engage with their assigned scientists during lunch coupled with a small group break-out session. Students had the opportunity to hear about the work of all the scientists during the opening plenary and again during the closing general session.


The HistoryMakers staff has created a finding aid for this event. View/Download below: 

ScienceMakers: Columbus Center of Science and Industry (Columbus 2012)