DNA Day: A Day for Geneticists to Celebrate and be Celebrated

ASHG 2024 LogoNo matter your area of research, career level, or location, DNA Day is a day that recognizes the genetics and genomics community and its work. Beyond the ASHG Annual Meeting, there are few opportunities to come together as a community at one time.  What makes DNA Day particularly special is that it involves everyone from career scientists to citizen scientists. All people with a passion, interest, and curiosity for human genetics come together around the world on April 25

ASHG members have the opportunity to connect with the next generation of human geneticists in a way that is not available to anyone else. Each year, the Public Education & Awareness Committee (PEAC) determines a question that encourages students to dive deeper into human genetics to learn how it impacts their everyday lives. This year, the question addresses genetics and environmental factors. High school students from around the world have done their research, submitted their essays, and now await the winning announcement on April 25. ASHG members have the unique opportunity to review, score, and provide feedback to these essays. There are rare other opportunities in which members of the human genetics and genomics community have such a direct impact on future geneticists.

Members of the PEAC not only review essays, but they determine the winning and honorable mention essays during the third round of judging. All other reviewers participate in Round 1 or Round 2 judging. Round 1 judges conduct a cursory review of essays and recommend whether or not an essay moves to the next round. Round 2 judges read essays in greater depth and score using a rubric provided by ASHG. The top 20 essays are then sent to PEAC members and volunteers from the ASHG Board of Directors. PEAC members also fill in during Rounds 1 and 2 to assist with scoring essays that need an additional reviewer. This role gives PEAC members the unique perspective of reading essays at all levels.

Three members of PEAC provided their perspective on why they enjoy reviewing essays each year.

Lord Jephthah Joojo Gowans, PhD“As a DNA Day Essay Contest reviewer, I am enthusiastic about seeing the different perspectives that students proffer on the same given essay topic through critical thinking and knowledge in current genetic and genomic technologies.”
– Lord Jephthah Joojo Gowans, PhD

Sureni Mullegama, PhD“I am a reviewer for the DNA Day Essay Contest Because it gives me joy to see the younger generation become involved in genetics and to see how they think about genetic concepts that confront patients and geneticist every day.”
– Sureni Mullegama, PhD

Matthew Moss, BS/BA“I love reviewing essays for the DNA Day Essay Contest because it inspires me to work harder in my own career when I see how knowledgeable and interested young people are in genetic science and its relation to society!” – Matthew Moss, BS/BA

Additionally, PEAC member Christina Vallianatos, PhD, recently recorded a podcast episode with Career Development Committee Chair Andrew Marderstein, PhD, about her experience as a DNA Day Essay Contest judge, her personal participation in the day, and how DNA Day changed the trajectory of her career.

While Essay Contest judging has already begun, there are other opportunities coming to celebrate. You can begin planning an event at your institution, such as a lab tour. PEAC member Arvind Kothandaraman has shared a step-by-step guide to host one. Additionally, connect with a local STEM group or classroom to conduct simple experiments with students, share resources, or hold a “Question and Answer” opportunity. There are a number of resources to inspire your engagement process and share with students and your community on ASHG’s public facing web page, Discover Genetics. Happy DNA Day!


ASHG uses cookies to provide you with a secure and custom web experience. Privacy Policy