News Release

jamie shuda genetics society award

PHILADELPHIA — Jamie Shuda, EdD, a prominent K-12 educator and researcher at Penn Medicine, has been named co-recipient of the 2018 Elizabeth W. Jones Award for Excellence by the Genetics Society of America (GSA) for “extraordinary contributions to genetics education.”

Shuda, director of life science outreach for the Institute for Regenerative Medicine (IRM) at the University of Pennsylvania, and Steven Farber, PhD, a principal investigator at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Baltimore, have been recognized for establishing BioEYES, a K-12 science education program that provides classroom-based, hands-on lessons in basic scientific methods, biology, and genetics using live zebrafish. The BioEYES program, in use in more than 100 schools, has been in operation in Philadelphia since 2002, and over 115,000 students in the United States and Australia have participated to date.

The program brings zebrafish—and tools and materials to study them, such as microscopes—into the classroom for a week. Students observe the mating of zebrafish parents and use the microscopes to watch the eggs grow from single cells to embryos to larvae, even observing their beating hearts. The students can hypothesize what hue the offspring of differently colored parent zebrafish will be.

“The children see science in action up-close,” said Shuda. “They become scientists themselves, making hypotheses and seeing if they are confirmed, observing the fish as they develop, and documenting their findings, just like in a real laboratory. This brings science home to them, and allows children who perhaps never thought of science as something they could do to consider choosing further study and even a career in the field.”

BioEYES relies on trained science consultants, called outreach educators, who serve as co-instructors with teachers in the schools in which the program is used. In addition to its Penn location, BioEYES is housed at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Baltimore; Monash University in Melbourne, Australia; the University of Utah in Salt Lake City; and another four university start-up sites happening in 2018.

“This is an extraordinarily distinguished award from the premier genetics research society in the United States,” said Ken Zaret, PhD, IRM director. “We are very proud of the hard work that Dr. Shuda does for IRM, Penn, and the community.”

In her role with IRM, Shuda develops and implements community outreach programs in the life sciences for K-12 students; teaches academically based community service undergraduate courses in biology and bioethics that partner with local high schools; supervises Penn student mentors to work with local teachers and students; provides professional development to dozens of teachers each year; and creates new curricula to enhance K-12 science.

She also collaborates with Penn faculty members university-wide to develop community outreach projects as part of their federal grant awards. A former third-grade teacher and Southeast Delco School District educator, Shuda received an EdD in education leadership and policy studies from Temple University and an MS in elementary education from Drexel University.

The Elizabeth W. Jones Award for Excellence in Education honors the education legacy of the organization’s first Excellence in Education Award recipient, Elizabeth W. Jones (1939–2008). The prize will be presented to Shuda and Farber at the 59th Annual Drosophila Research Conference (a GSA-affiliated meeting), which will take place from April 11th–15th, 2018 in Philadelphia, where BioEYES got its start 15 years ago this year.


Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $7.8 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 20 years, according to U.S. News & World Report’s survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation’s top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $405 million awarded in the 2017 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center — which are recognized as one of the nation’s top “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S. News & World Report — Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Medicine Princeton Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital – the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine, and Princeton House Behavioral Health, a leading provider of highly skilled and compassionate behavioral healthcare.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2017, Penn Medicine provided $500 million to benefit our community.

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