Outreach Programs


In addition to the pioneering interdisciplinary research conducted at the MSL, translating our findings to the broader community is an integral part of our mission. Scientific knowledge translation is an essential part of the scientific process that shares our research with fellow scientists, educates the general public, garners support for further research, and helps to inspire the next generation of scientists. Learn more about the outreach programs offered at the MSL below.

Advanced Molecular Biology Laboratory (AMBL)

AMBL is our scientific literacy facility, where the Michael Smith Laboratories’ dedication to education and outreach is on display.  AMBL specializes in the development, delivery, and research of a wide variety of STEM educational and training programsThese programs aim to inform the general public about the societal, cultural, economic, political, and ethical nuances of the sciences. Additionally, AMBL provides molecular biology and/or communications training to scientists of all levels of backgrounds (university students, faculty, and industry professionals) This state-of-the-art laboratory offers a superb learning environment and supports excellent training opportunities and provides authentic science experiences for school and public communitiesAMBL is widely regarded for using creative and unconventional avenues of science communication and pedagogy, particularly where science and other disciplines intersect. 

Offering extensive field trip workshops at the MSL based laboratory, AMBL educates several thousand elementary and high school students each year. Also active in virtual spaces, another program highlight is a popular biodiversity project that guides classrooms in utilizing game-based learning to build STEM themed trading cardsMany of AMBL’s programs collaborate with unrepresented communities including coding camps for girls, workshops for neurodivergent children, and an environmental DNA sequencing program that works closely with Indigenous youth and their communities. This education focused lab also provides professional workshops for scientific clientele wishing to upgrade their molecular biology techniques and has an active role in training new scientists in science communication tasks. 

MSL Reaches Out

MSL Reaches Out is a workshop series which aims to develop outreach activities based on the fantastic research happening at the MSL. There are two parts to the program, the creation phase and the implementation phase. Over several weeks in a series of faculty guided workshops, students learn how to transform their research focuses into interactive activities for a lay audience. From neurobiology to biophysics to stem cell engineering, the topics explored draw on the broad range of research projects ongoing at the MSL. Supervised by seasoned scientists and educators Drs. Freda Miller, Dave Ng and Anna Blakney, sessions include brainstorming, activity prototyping and peer-review. During the second phase of the workshop, students implement the outreach activities they have developed in high school classroom settings across the Lower Mainland 

Scientific knowledge translation is a crucial professional skill for leading scientists to develop and one of the MSL’s top priorities. MSL Reaches Out supports trainees in building their science communication skills through interactive, student-led projects. Not only do programs like this teach scientists how to communicate their research to non-experts, but they serve to educate and inspire the next generation of potential scientists.  

The program runs every fall beginning in October, with an internal announcement inviting applications in late summer.