Virtual Scientist in a Classroom

Want your students to meet a practicing scientist? Here’s your chance! Invite a Harvard Science Education Partner into your classroom!


Virtual Scientist in a Classroom

Recommended for grades 6-9


Fall 2022 reservations open in September.

Some limited summer virtual programs are available. Please contact us using the form below to inquire.

Program Description

What does it mean to be a scientist? What are scientists studying today? How do you become a scientist? How can science help us understand the world? Harvard Science Education Partners can answer these questions and more!

Science Education Partners are Harvard graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who study a variety of STEM topics including biology, paleontology, botany, Earth science, and genetics. Invite a Science Education Partner into your class to discuss their research and their passion for science. Each Science Education Partner will share a short video in advance about their work and respond to student questions via video conference.

How to Set Up a Virtual Scientist in a Classroom Visit with a Harvard Science Education Partner:

Registration opens February 1, 2022

  • Teacher reviews Science Education Partner presenters (see below)
  • Teacher completes this form with a choice of dates and times
  • The museum contacts the teacher to discuss details
  • The museum sends a confirmation email and an introductory video for advance classroom viewing
  • Approximately one week in advance, the teacher contacts the Science Education Partner to confirm details
  • Teacher sends video conferencing link to the Science Education Partner
  • On the reserved day and time, the Science Education Partner joins classroom video conference

Harvard Science Education Partners and Their Topics

Collin Cherubim: How to Find an Exoplanet

Harvard student, Collin Cherubim, smiling.Join me on a journey through the galaxy to explore the tantalizing field of exoplanets. You’ll learn how scientists in this exciting new branch of astronomy discover and characterize other worlds and even look for alien life! Along the way, I offer a glimpse into the real-world scientific method and invite viewers to think like a scientist.

Daren Card: Learning to Speak DNA

Harvard student, smiling with his arms crossed.Knowing the DNA sequence of an organism is only the first step in understanding how it all works. Join me as I illuminate how scientists can use evolution’s tendency to repeat itself— known as convergent evolution—to better understand the links between genetics and the physical traits we observe in nature.

Grace Burgin: Among the Wildflowers

Harvard student, Grace Burgin, smiling.We live in an incredibly diverse world among many different kinds of plants, animals, and other living creatures. But how did it become this way? Join me on a journey — from collecting wildflowers in Texas to studying genetics in the lab — with the goal of answering one small piece of this big question.

Jessica Cmiel: Venus: Earth’s Evil Twin?

Harvard student, Jessica Cmiel, smiling.Could Venus be Earth’s “evil twin”? Explore how the second planet from the Sun came to be so different from the planet we call home. I explain how details of a planet’s formation— like what elements are initially present and in what quantities, and how they move between a planet's mantle and the atmosphere—can determine the kind of climate the planet is able to have and whether or not it will be able to support life!

Mary Richardson: Exploring How mRNA Makes Proteins

Harvard student, Mary Richardson, smiling.I study the way proteins are made. I am building a computer-based model to predict how an mRNA gets translated into a protein. I’m interested in finding examples where the usual rules of translation aren’t followed (for example, coronavirus!).

Molly Gabler-Smith: Shark Skin: How Do We Study It and What Can We Use It For?

Harvard student, Molly Gabler-Smith, smiling next to a specimen in a jar.Discover the fascinating world of shark skin! I explain why shark skin is an important feature of these charismatic animals and demonstrate how I study the dermal denticles—the microscopic structures that cover the bodies of all sharks.

Souvik Mandal: Learning from Ants' Behavior to Make Better Robots

Harvard student, Souvik Mandal, smiling.Ants live in societies like us and face many of the same basic challenges that we do. ​These include finding or growing food, building complex structures, transporting small and big items​, and defending their home from diseases ​and invaders​. ​Interestingly, they work on these challenges using ​​simple rules. I study tiny details of the behavior of ants to understand these rules and ​convert them into​ algorithms. My collaborators and I then use the algorithms to make smart robots that can work together to do different jobs with little human instruction.

Victoria DiTomasso: Exploring Other Worlds

Harvard student, Victoria DiTomasso, smiling.Discover a distant planet outside of the Solar System. We will retrace the steps to the discovery of the first so-called exoplanet, and I will explain how astronomers (like me!) use the movement of stars to learn about the exoplanets that revolve around them.

Yangfan Zhang: Fish Athletes

Harvard student, Yangfan Zhang, smiling.How much energy do fish use as they swim through the ocean? How does that change if the environment changes? Answering these questions not only helps me understand the basic biology of fish but also helps guide us as we make policy decisions about climate change and human food supply.


The program is free to all groups of ten or more at schools nationwide through May 31, 2022. You will be asked to complete a brief online evaluation after your program.

Scout troops, after-school programs, camps, and extracurricular learning pods may book a program for a $25 fee for 10–50 youths. Payment in full is required one week before the program.


Harvard Scientist in a Classroom videos are approximately ten minutes long and should be screened before the live virtual discussion. Live virtual classroom visits are thirty minutes long.

About the Harvard Science Education Partners

Scientist in a Classroom presenters have completed our Science Education Partners program, which prepares scientists to talk about their research with public audiences in a way that is engaging, understandable, relevant, and inspires curiosity. They are graduate students and post-doctoral fellows who are passionate about sharing their love of science and inspiring others to see themselves as scientists and make science a part of their daily lives. Each has their own story of how they became interested in and have progressed in their chosen field and most are advanced in their studies with several years of lab or fieldwork experience.

Benefit for Presenters

Speaking to your students is also an opportunity for Science Education Partners. Many teach college classes using college-level language. But in the field, to the media, and in grant proposals, they need to use everyday language to explain what they are trying to learn, how they will undertake their work, and how it may help the community. Developing these professional skills with your students improves their own career prospects.