Scientist information

Information and instructions

June 30, 2020: Thanks for your interest in Picture a Scientist! This initiative is on hold and we are not accepting new letter submissions at this time. Educators and students can still access the published letters and lesson plans. If you’re excited about letter outreach, join our mailing list and we will notify you about STEM outreach opportunities within and beyond LPS!

Feb 18, 2019: Letters to a Pre-Scientist is excited to announce our newest initiative – Picture a Scientist, a collection of photographs and letters from real scientists that middle school students and their teachers – whether or not they are participating in the pen pal program – will use to engage in college and career exploration in the classroom. This resource will allow students and teachers to browse a diverse group of scientists’ career stories, in the form of letters submitted by real scientists – like you! Teachers will have access to a tailored lesson plan to use along with these letters, so their students will benefit greatly from this new resource.

Below, you’ll find some suggested prompts to include in your letter. Feel free to answer as many or few of them as you would like. In the spirit of our pen pal program, please write your answers in the form of a letter (“Dear Pre-Scientist…”) and geared towards a 6th grade (11 year old) audience. You can write your letter in paragraph format (example), or, you may write an introduction paragraph followed by a Q&A format (example).

Because these letters, unlike the letters exchanged through our pen pal program, will not be responded to, please don’t pose any questions in this letter. We do encourage you to include links to external resources such as lab websites or educational resources, and several photos or videos of your college and your research from field sites, labs, or presentations.

Submit your letter using the form below. Please note that we are only accepting letters in Google Docs format and the sharing settings must allow editing by anyone with the link.


  • What first inspired you to like science? When was that?
  • When did you first self-identify as a scientist? What contributed to you taking on that identity?
  • How did you decide to pursue a STEM career?
  • Did you know any scientists growing up? Did this impact your decision to choose a career in STEM?
  • Where did you go to college, and what did you study?
  • Did you pursue any schooling after college? Where did you go, what did you study, and what degree do you have?
  • What do you do as a job now? How does your work impact individuals in your community or around the world?
  • What are your favorite activities to do outside of work/science?
  • Have there been any obstacles you’ve had to overcome during your education or career? How did you overcome these challenges?
  • Do you identify with any groups that are underrepresented in higher education or STEM careers?
  • What advice would you give to a middle schooler?