Team training and Project start
We started our project in October 2019 when our team began to form. We asked Karel Říha, teacher of synthetic biology course, to become our principal investigator. Until February 2020 we've spent most of our efforts on gathering funding, deciding on the topic of our project and creating a presence on social media. In February we began delving deeper into the theoretical information relevant to our project, as we designed the details of our device. In July 2020 we moved to the laboratory and started working on our wet-lab experiments. And after one year, here we are with our project - CYANOTRAP.
Molecular biology and genetics
Participated in: team leadership, theoretical research, designing our parts, primers and experiments, wet-lab work, lab organization, human practices, graphic design, photography, social media, fundraising, team presentation video, public engagement
Favourite project activity: Designing our synthetic constructs and planning experiments. I did those things even in my dreams. Because who needs a high quality sleep, am I right?
Baru is our team leader. It was actually her and Standa who found out about iGEM and decided to create our team. Baru had quite a challenging role, as she had to build the team from the ground up and keep us motivated throughout the whole year. She is our expert on cellulosomes which are a key component of our project. She juggles a huge amount of responsibilities - sometimes we suspect her of owning Hermione's Time Turner. Outside of iGEM, Baru is a big fan of Harry Potter and has a passion for photography.
Molecular biology and genetics
Participated in: theoretical research, wet-lab experiments, lab organization, team leadership, design of experiments, human practices, graphic design, social media, fundraising, team presentation video, public engagement, collaborations
Favourite project activity: Come up with new crazy (and usually stupid :D) ideas and convince everyone that we should definitely try them out! And occasional rapping about B. subtilis.
Standa is the vice-leader of our team. Together with Baru, he helped to form our iGEM team and got us excited about the world of synthetic biology. Very admirable is his passion for team organization, which is reflected in the creation of many spreadsheets, taskbooks and his constant strife to improve our work efficiency. But we like him! Although Standa has been fascinated by the possibilities of synthetic biology since high school, his life isn't all about science. In his free time Standa is a scout and he is down for every adventure.
Klára Odehnalová (Quency)
Molecular biology and genetics
Participated in: Theoretical research, wet-lab experiments, project promotion video, fundraising, team presentation video, language corrections and translation, wiki organization
Favourite project activity: Keep sending everyone pictures of frogs to keep them motivated (No, we don't know, how frogs can motivate us)
Quency has many roles in our team, but one thing she will probably never forget about is her task to check the grammar of every text on our wiki. Quency also contributed with her critical thinking - oftentimes, she was able to identify problems, so we could solve them in time. In her free time Quency leads a junior drama ensemble and because of her experience with acting, she became the star of our project presentation video. But most importantly, throughout the whole year, Quency tried to share with her fascination of frogs and reptiles. Her bearded dragon Teodor became a team pet, the best moral support and an honoured member of our team.
Participated in: theoretical research, wet-lab experiments, human practices, fundraising, public engagement, poster
Favourite project activity: The possibility to share my favourite weird songs with labmates during lab-work.
In our team, consisting mainly of biologists, Tom is a member with the greatest passion for chemistry. He also stands out with his sense of adventure. It was always fun to guess if he didn't attend the meeting because he forgot or because he was stuck somewhere in Morocco. His most interesting superpower is of course the ability to fall asleep literally anywhere. Nevertheless, when needed, Tom works tirelessly in the lab - so obviously he knows what his priorities are.
Molecular biology and genetics
Participated in: theoretical research, wet-lab experiments, lab organization, design of experiments, head of lab management, communication with experts, handbook, human practices, public engagement, organization of online courses, education
Favourite project activity: Well, independent observers may think my favourite activity is cleaning in the lab or working with an autoclave, because of the frequency with which I perform these tasks. But from the bottom of my heart, I love pipetting samples into the wells of an agarose gel.
Míša is an artist in a lab coat. When she is not working with bacteria, Míša creates beautiful paintings. Another one of her passions is ballet. Because she is no stranger to the IT world, as a biologist, she connects our IT and wet lab team, making sure we are on the same page. Her passion for growing houseplants however seems to be slightly dangerous, hopefully she won´t turn our lab into a jungle...
Participated in: theoretical research, wet-lab experiments, human practices, public engagement (pubquiz moderation), education (GMO pod lupou)
Favourite project activity: I rather enjoy dealing with experiments which don't turn out as planned. It's like being a biodetective. I'm not saying that I'm good at it, I'm saying I enjoy it.
Although David studies biochemistry, he can sometimes resemble a philosopher as he tends to deeply reflect on everything. In times of deadline stress he reminded us why we participated in iGEM in the first place and we should be excited to enrich each other and learn something new. We are very grateful for his organization of our teambuilding weekend and also for speaking at our events.
Molecular biology and genetics
Participated in: theoretical research, wet-lab experiments, project promotion video, collaborations, team presentation video, public engagement, education, merchandise distribution
Favourite project activity: Definitely the transformation of Bacillus subtilis. I consider B. subtilis to be my baby and it makes me happy to see him grow.
Lůca helped with the neverending amount of transformation experiments and it always brought her joy when some colonies appeared on the selection medium (even if it was the negative control and the colonies weren't supposed to be there). Nevertheless, she contributed to our lab-work by constantly trying to turn the laboratory into a karaoke bar, improving everyone's mood. In her free time, she tries to improve her piano playing skills in case Bacillus stops growing and she needs to give up her dream of a career in science. She always works hard and is someone we can count on to brighten our mood and make us laugh.
Participated in: theoretical research, wet-lab experiments, human practices, graphic design, social media, public engagement, organization of online courses
Favourite project activity: Singing high school musical songs while isolating plasmids and making graphic design of our certificates for our online courses.
Despite the large competition, Michal is probably our greatest music expert, as he knows every song across all sorts of music genres. And he remembers the lyrics almost as well as the cloning protocol! Michal helped a ton with our social media and he also organized one of our public events – the quiz in a pub. In his free time, Michal enjoys standard and latin dances as well as learning about interesting stuff, such as ancient civilizations.
Molecular biology and genetics
Participated in: theoretical research, wet-lab experiments, project promotion video, graphic design, social media, team presentation video, public engagement, education
Favourite project activity: Pipetting is the best work out! My arms have never been so strong! And I really enjoyed our discussions about all the ideas we want to implement in our project.
When she was younger, Sabča wanted to become a successful writer. But science won and Sabča decided to fully focus on biology! Not many people are able to bring the scientific world to the general public the way Sabča does through her amazing blog posts and articles about synthetic biology and iGEM. Sabča is also a musician. She's been playing the flute since childhood and she even performs with the Brno Philharmonic. In her free time, Sabča learns to play less common instruments, such as ocarina or kalimba.
Participated in: wiki, modeling, Team Seeker, public engagement, IT team management and education of other team members
Favourite project activity: Processing the modeling data (why are our particles going through walls?!)
Petr is one of our IT experts, however you won't find him sitting in front of the computer all the time. From childhood, Petr plays football and he isn't afraid of longer "trips" by bike (if biking across our country can be considered a trip). Sometimes he also casually borrows a guitar or a violin and becomes a self-taught musician.
Medical Genetics and Molecular Diagnostics
Participated in: theoretical research, wet-lab experiments, project promotion video, graphic design, social media, fundraising, team presentation video, merchandise, production and distribution of our magazine
Favourite project activity: Coffee breaks with chocolate cappuccino for half a euro from our schools coffee machine (Yeah, it sounds disgusting, but it is actually pretty good!)
Janča is a very creative person - she enjoys everything from drawing and dancing to baking and singing... And most importantly, Janča is the Ginger Spice in our karaoke team! After joining our team, she learned to make great graphics and our project promotion video wouldn't exist without her. Janča would be very happy if all the people around her would be as excited for natural science as she is and that's why she helped a lot with the educational part of our project and with science popularization.
Participated in: wiki, modeling, Team Seeker, public engagement
Favourite project activity: Debates with Petr about wiki pages
Another our IT expert is Pavel. Beside the world of artificial intelligence Pavel likes leading an active life - one of his pastimes is bouldering. Like his brother, he has been a scout since his childhood. What surprised us biologists the most however is his hobby of growing bonsais. Especially for those of us who can easily kill a cactus (even though we do in fact study biology), Pavel is almost like a hero.
Participated in: Project promotion video, human practices, graphic design, social media, public engagement, team presentation video, merchandise, PR team management and education of other team members
Favourite project activity: Trying to express the beauty of science to common mortals.
Our marketing expert Klárka comes up with an endless list of ideas on how to bring science to the general public and raise awareness of synthetic biology. As she is untouched by university-level biology, she helps us express our enthusiasm for science to the “normal people” without overwhelming them with scientific terms and unnecessary details. As our main graphic designer, Klárka can spend hours and hours on graphics, playing around with every detail until everything is perfect. During quarantine, she put all her energy and free time into creating a biology-themed colouring book for children.
Finance and Law
Participated in: financial affairs, human practices, fundraising, public engagement, finance team management and education of other team members
Favourite project activity: Always trying to transform our iGEM project into multi-million dollar mega-corporation
Martin is truly a multi-faceted person with a great variety of interests. When not surrounded by mathematical formulas or legislation, Martin impresses the judges at dance competitions. Although Martin contributes mainly to our financial team, he knows a ton about molecular biology and his comments and questions can often help us improve our project and maybe see things from a different angle.
Participated in: wiki, modeling, Team Seeker
Favourite project activity: Teambuilding at David's cottage
Dalibor is a member of our IT team. Despite studying informatics, Dalibor sees himself more as a mathematician. He contributed to modeling the conditions inside our device. He is really enthralled by his field of study and he spends a lot of his time by organizing educational events such as mathematical or IT seminars for highschoolers. To take a break from solving IT and math problems, Dalibor likes biking with his friends.
We would like to thank our principal investigators – Karel Říha, Pavel Dvořák and Martin Marek, for their leadership, valuable advice, allowing us to use their labs and their material support. They were there for us whenever we needed help. They discussed our (sometimes crazy) ideas with us and helped us turn them into viable plans and, at other times, they encouraged us to strive for things that seemed impossible for us to achieve. But the main reason we are grateful to them is that, from the moment we approached them about participating in iGEM, they believed in us and our abilities. They supported us in our endeavours in a way that allowed us to experience every aspect of a scientific project on our own and thus prepared us for our scientific careers in the best possible way.
Mgr. Karel Říha, Ph.D.
Dr. Karel Říha studied molecular biology and genetics at Masaryk University in Brno. Since 2014, he has been working as the head of the research group and deputy director for science at the Central European Institute of Technology at Masaryk University. His researcher group Plant molecular biology focuses on understanding the molecular and cellular processes involved in plant germination, as well as the application of synthetic biology approaches to plants and green algae. He also teaches a course in synthetic biology with Dr. Martin Marek at Masaryk University. At many of our lab meetings he would tell us his words of encouragement, which today are considered legendary "Work in parallel! We are limited not by the number of hands, but by the passing time.”
Source: Vědci se poprvé podívali rostlinám až do ložnice. Autor Masarykova univerzita, Ema Wiesnerová. Magazín M : měsíčník Masarykovy univerzity. Dostupné na adrese https://www.em.muni.cz/veda-a-vyzkum/12522-vedci-se-poprve-podivali-rostlinam-az-do-loznice a z Digitální knihovny fotografií MU pod CC BY 3.0 CZ, licenční podmínky jsou dostupné na adrese http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/cz/legalcode. (edited)
Mgr. Pavel Dvořák, Ph.D.
Dr. Pavel Dvořák is a molecular biologist and microbiologist, head of the Microbial Bioengineering Laboratory at Masaryk University. During his postdoctoral internship at CNB-CSIC in Madrid, he focused on the engineering of soil bacteria for more efficient decomposition and biotechnological processing of complex polymeric substances, especially lignocellulose. He also deals with this topic with his newly formed group in Brno.
Source: Nová laboratoř MUNI přizpůsobuje bakterie průmyslovému využití. Autor Masarykova univerzita, Ema Wiesnerová. Magazín M : měsíčník Masarykovy univerzity. Dostupné na adrese https://www.em.muni.cz/veda-a-vyzkum/11956-nova-laborator-muni-prizpusobuje-bakterie-prumyslovemu-vyuziti a z Digitální knihovny fotografií MU pod CC BY 3.0 CZ, licenční podmínky jsou dostupné na adrese http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/cz/legalcode. (edited)
Ing. RNDr. Martin Marek, Ph.D.
Dr. Martin Marek graduated in molecular biology and virology. He has 13 years of experience in molecular and structural biology and protein crystallography. Dr. Marek specializes in the production and purification of recombinant proteins and protein complexes, structural analysis of protein‑ligand complexes and biophysical analysis of biomolecular interactions. In Loschmidt Laboratories he focuses on Kinetics and microfluidics.
Source: Univerzita podpořila hraniční výzkum evoluce enzymů a regenerace zubů. Autor Masarykova univerzita, Ema Wiesnerová. Magazín M : měsíčník Masarykovy univerzity. Dostupné na adrese https://www.em.muni.cz/veda-a-vyzkum/11462-univerzita-podporila-hranicni-vyzkum-evoluce-enzymu-a-regenerace-zubu a z Digitální knihovny fotografií MU pod CC BY 3.0 CZ, licenční podmínky jsou dostupné na adrese http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/cz/legalcode. (edited)
We are so grateful to our universities - Masaryk university (MUNI) and Brno University of Technology (BUT) for their general support including financial donations, promotion on social media and allowing us to use their merchandise for our competitions on social media.
We would also like to thank our university magazine “Magazín M”, which allowed us to use their photos of our PIs as we could not take our own due to the Covid-19 situation.
Project support and advice
We are thankful for our advisors Ondřej Beňuš - who we consulted on fundraising, Gabriela Chmelařová - who helped with the IT aspects of our project, Veronika Kolajová - who helped promote our work, Vojtěch Lukáš - who helped with video production, Jakub Svoboda - who helped with PR activities and event promotions, and Rayyan Tariq Khan who shared his experiences with the iGEM competition.We would also thank all other professors and doctors, namely prof. RNDr. Jiří Doškař, CSc., prof. RNDr. Jan Šmarda, CSc., prof. RNDr. Zbyněk Prokop, Ph.D., Mgr. David Kovář, Ph.D., Mgr. Tibor Botka, Ph.D., who gave us valuable advices at the start of our project. Our gratitude also belongs to cyanobacteria expert Mgr. Geriš Rodan.
Our big thanks also go to Michal Marcolla and Eliška Veškrnová for carefully proceeding international payments for iGEM fees, Ilona Pivovarová for helping us with NPO accounting, and Ester Jarour for marketing support. For legal advice regarding HP questionnaire, we thank Rectorate’s Legal Department.
We are so grateful for the Faculty of Science MUNI, CEITEC MUNI, Faculty of Business and Management BUT, Rectorate of MUNI, Faculty of Economics and Administration MUNI and Loschmidt Laboratories for their financial donations. We would also thank Eastport and Promega for sending reagents and reaction kits, IDT for gene synthesis, JIC for providing a place for our association and Opis Enfineering k. s. for toner into a printer for printing our propagation materials.
We would like to thank Jozef Kováč, Barbora Burýšková, Barbora Břenková, Martin Benešík, Iva Buriánková, Anna Molíková, Marie Komárková, Jana Faturová and Adéla Indráková for helping us get familiar with the lab and for their general support during our wet-lab experiments.
Difficult technique support
We are grateful to Jana Pečinková for helping us order lab material as well as assisting us with Wester blot. We also consulted her about cloning and sending samples for sequencing.
We also appreciate Dana Kadaňková who helped us with glassware sterilization and preparing some chemicals.
We would like to thank prof. Libor Krásný for providing a strain of Bacillus subtilis he works with and for giving us some of their lab protocols. We also want to thank his fellow researcher Hana Šanderová for answering our questions regarding working with Bacillus and her help with optimizing our lab protocols.
We would like to thank the songs from High School Musical, which eased our minds during the dark days when our experiments constantly failed.
Another beacon of hope was Theodore - Quency's bearded dragon, and our mascot and saviour.