Department Outreach, Community Engagement, and Service Learning

Mission Statement

Through enhancing biology education and increasing biology-related outreach, we are committed to sharing our knowledge with the wider community.

Specific Objectives

  • Encourage participation in outreach to the general public
  • Provide information that highlights outreach activities and those involved
  • Participate in special programs representing the department (i.e., K-12 schools, Science Olympiad, etc.)
  • Link faculty to appropriate outreach opportunities
  • Record and document all departmental outreach activities
  • Be a resource for faculty pursuing collaborations in outreach programs and grants

Highlighted Activities and Programs


BioFest posters and tables

Each fall, the Biology Department hosts an annual event that features a combined career fair, welcome to new biology majors, and undergraduate and graduate student research poster colloquium. Come learn about scientific vendors, graduate schools, K-12 teaching positions, and post-graduate employers at this event.

BSC 393 Biology Outreach Course

UA Biology majors create and teach hands-on science lessons to K-12 students in the Tuscaloosa County and Tuscaloosa City Schools through-out the calendar year. Additional community partners include the Boys and Girls Clubs of West Alabama, Tuscaloosa County Park & Recreation Authority, Tuscaloosa Magnet schools, Tuscaloosa’s One Place, I Dream Big, UA Arboretum, the Tuscaloosa Public Library, and the Tuscaloosa Children’s Hands-On Museum.


Summer semester – Jeana Yates (
Fall and Spring – Kaleb Heinrich (

Bama Biology Bootcamp (B3)

Bama Biology Bootcamp 2019 participants

A one week intensive program for incoming Biological Sciences majors and other freshmen enrolled in BSC 114 or 118. Its purpose is to help first year college students make a successful transition from the expectations of high school to those of college, setting the stage for a great college experience. B³ participants: 1.) Get a jump-start on the BSC 114 and 118 course; 2.) Meet the Biological Sciences faculty, Department Chair, graduate students, undergraduates who have successfully completed their introductory biology courses, and university staff who are ready to help students; 3.) Develop learning strategies for their first biology course and beyond; and 4.) Learn about the expectations for studying, learning and academic performance in college classes.



An annual family-friendly, Halloween and autumn themed event. Candy can be found throughout the trails and biology related lessons and activities are led by BSC students and faculty.


Michael McKain (

Flight of the Bombus

The “Bumble Bee Flight Simulator” illustrates several aspects of bumble bee physiology and adaptation by immersing users in key concepts related to BSC faculty member Jeff Lozier’s research, including genome sequencing, flight physiology, and pollination biology. The interactive motion capture game has been used at various educational public events like Biofest, Scientist for a Day, and in the Alabama Museum of Natural History. Jeff Lozier developed the game and display with collaborator Michael Dillon at University of Wyoming with funding from the National Science Foundation and the European Society for Evolutionary Biology.


Jeff Lozier (

Genomics Education Partnership (GEP)

Genomics Education Partnership logo

The Genomics Education Partnership is a nationwide collaboration of faculty from more than 100 institutions which aims to integrate active learning into the undergraduate curriculum through Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs) centered in genomics and bioinformatics. More than 1,300 students per year currently participate in courses that utilize GEP materials.  In the next five years, the program will double the membership with a special focus placed on increasing the number of minority-serving institutions and community colleges represented among the GEP member institutions.  In the era of COVID-19, the GEP is uniquely poised to provide expertise and support to both current and new members to help them respond to the sudden switch to online-only education in response to the pandemic. Bioinformatics is a computer-based research field, ideally suited to providing students with opportunities for participating in research even when confined to home, given a computer and Internet access.


Laura Reed (

Scientist for a Day 

High school students in the lab during Scientist for a Day

Each year, UA hosts high school students in research labs who learned about day-to-day activities involved in research.

UA News:


Lisa Clark (

Traveling Fish Show 

The Traveling Fish Show is an on-site, interactive presentation highlighting the diversity and natural history of Earth’s most diverse group of vertebrate animals. Dr. Phil Harris (Curator of Fishes) and Mr. Worth Pugh (Coordinator of Zoological Collections) can tailor their presentation to supplement and enhance K12 teaching units in biology, marine science, environmental biology, etc. Please contact either of us for availability and to discuss presentation topics.


Phil Harris (

UA Arboretum

UA Arboretum – Explore Alabama’s wonderful flora and fauna to K-12 students who come on field trips and/or to all those who visit the UA Arboretum.


Jayne Lampley (

A&S Homecoming Tent

Kocot and Fierst lab volunteers at homecoming tent

Homecoming Tent – The College of Arts and Science hosts a tent on the Quad on Homecoming Saturday each year. The Biology Department provides tailgaters with hands-on experiments, info on native plants and invasive species, practice with microscopes, features live invertebrates, and much more.

Science Olympiad

Science Olympiad – The College of Arts and Science hosts the annual state-level Science Olympiad each year. This annual state-level event gives K-12 students from all over the state of Alabama a chance to compete in STEM competitions. The winners move on to the National Science Olympiad.


Kim Lackey (
Kaleb Heinrich (

UA Museums

UA Museums – There are volunteer opportunities through the Alabama Museum of Natural History, Gorgas House Museum, Moundville Archaeological Park, and more.

Website:  htttp://

Bama Bug Fest

Bama Bug Fest is a new, annual family-friendly science education event as of 2018. Each July, researchers and students from Biological Sciences, the Alabama Museum of Natural History, and other units on campus educate the community about “ALL Things BUGS” with exhibits ranging from insect art and photography to live insects you can hold to a cockroach tractor pull! This event is fun for all all ages.


John Friel (