Photogenetics: 23andMe’s Genetics Image Contest

Another school year begins and 23andMe has your first assignment.
 Photo by Quinn Walker

Photo by Quinn Walker

Photo by Carmen Avram

Photo by Carmen Avram

A picture is worth a thousand words, and we think that’s plenty enough to explain key terms in genetics. So as part of our back-to-school, ah…celebration, 23andMe is having its first “Genetics Image Contest,” which is open to students 18 or older. The finalists will be showcased in the Genetics Gallery at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California. If that’s not enough to make you interested, may we appeal to your thirst for knowledge? Our Academic and Students Programs are all about advocating for improved genetic literacy. We know from research that imagery itself plays a huge role in science education, so this contest offers a great opportunity to not just learn a little something about genetics, but to pass on that knowledge to others.
Summary of Contest Rules – Participants must be 18 years or older and enrolled in a school within the territorial United States. – Images can be drawn by hand, photographed, or generated by computer software and must be in digital format (JPG, PNG, GIF or BMP). – Each image must have a title and a short (50 words or less) written description of how it conveys the genetic term(s) selected. – Works previously published will not be considered. – Images containing defamatory, obscene or inappropriate content will be automatically disqualified. – Contest concludes October 6 at 11:59PM. Go here for a complete description of the rules. Email questions about the contest to:
Interested? Here’s what you need to do:Simply select from our list of genetic vocabulary terms (DNA, chromosome, gene, allele, Heredity/Inheritance Pattern) and submit up to three original images, which capture the meaning of at least one of those terms. These images can either be photographs or images you’ve drawn, painted or created with computer software. For inspiration, we have included some photos by a few of us here at 23andMe. You could create images that are literal interpretations, such as the example of the architectural designs of the double helix. You could also try a more metaphorical approach, or use your own artistic license, like the image of the stadium containing 20,000 spectators symbolizes the approximate number of genes in our genome. But whatever you do, be creative. You might be surprised what directions it leads you in. There are no mistakes in art.The images you submit will be displayed in an album on 23andMe’s Facebook page, where you can encourage your friends to like and share them, and contribute to the overall evaluation of your image. Images will also be evaluated based on originality, visual impact, and the written description.Each of the three winners will receive a $100 Amazon gift card. Finalists will receive 23andMe T-shirts. The three student groups, classes, or schools with the highest number of participants will receive a $300 prize to raise awareness of personal genomics through a journal club, a lecture or other learning events on campus, including the option to organize a Google Hangout or host an in-person event with a 23andMe scientist, depending on the location.Winners will be announced in the 23andMe blog post on the week of October 20.
  • Richard Gronostajski

    I forwarded your e-mail to my Essentials of Genetics and Genomics course that has 21 students. I don’t know whether any of them have an artistic streak but if they do this should stimulate it.


  • 23blog

    Hi Rosie,
    Thanks for the question. We love your class, by the way. And the answer is yes, of course, your students are eligible.
    The only caveat is that international students are not eligible to win prizes but their images can definitely be included in the SJ tech museum exhibit. We excluded international students per andrea due to each country having its own set of laws around contest/winning.