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Last-Minute Gift Ideas: 2020 Edition

Wait, what day is it? What month is it? This year has been a doozy. The pandemic has fundamentally changed our lives, and at times, has made us feel like we’re in a real-life Groundhog Day.

Well, if you’ve found yourself in the last-minute shopping scramble, we’re back with a half dozen solid ideas that we hope will make your gift-giving life easier.

The gift of science


Is this a shameless plug for donating to science research? Perhaps. But please don’t overlook the fact that scientific research doesn’t happen without the generous support of donors. Please give to the worthy institution of your choice. We hope you consider a gift to ISB — you can make a contribution in a gift recipient’s name, and we can continue our groundbreaking work focusing on COVID-19, brain health and aging, the importance of accessible, inclusive high-quality STEM education, and so much more.

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Note: Many of the gift ideas below are available on When making purchases with the online retailer, please use the AmazonSmile program and designate “Institute for Systems Biology” as your nonprofit charity, and Amazon will donate 0.5 percent of sales toward our research. Do you forget to use Amazon Smile? Use Smilematic to automatically use Smile every time you shop on Amazon!




This made last year’s gift guide, too, but is worth including again. BrainHQ is a brain training platform developed by neuroscientists, and gifting a subscription to a loved one can help them stay mentally sharp. In fact, BrainHQ is one part of the multimodal therapy used by brain health expert Dr. Mary Kay Ross, founder of the Brain Health & Research Institute.


You’re on Mute mug


Have you been reminded that you’re on mute more times than you can count? Is that an oft-heard phrase in your virtual meetings? You’re not alone. This mug pokes some much-needed fun at the very 2020 blunder.


Ring light and extendable tripod


We’d bet that the “you’re on mute” offenders could also use a little help in the presentation department. This 10-inch ring light with 50-inch extendable tripod stand and phone holder will improve the aesthetic for virtual meetings. Compatible with iPhone and Android devices.


Pandemic: Legacy Season 2


Is there a more apropos board game? Season 2 puts a unique spin on the first with players adding supply cubes to the board to ward off the plague, and a player’s decisions carry over to future games. “Embark on a globe-spanning struggle for the survival of humanity filled with dramatic twists and shocking revelations.”

Turing Tumble


“Hands on, screen off,” states the Turing Tumble website. This product teaches kids how computers work by building marble-powered computers. Kids 8 and older can learn how computers work by building marble-powered mechanical computers to solve logic puzzles. Even better, every purchase supports the Turing Trust, which strives for a world of equal opportunity with technology-enabled education for all.

From everyone at ISB, we hope you have a safe, enjoyable holiday season.

If you’re looking for more great gift ideas for the scientist or aspiring scientist on your list, you can find dozens of suggestions at our past gift guides. They still hold up. Read those guides here and here

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