New England iGEM (NEGEM) Conference 2020
This fall, Harvard’s iGEM team hosted the NEGEM conference, an informal meetup that had historically been held between iGEM teams in the New England region. Traditionally, this meeting would entail a panel of judges to give feedback on the iGEM projects presented by each respective team based on medal criteria and on their respective track. This year, due to the logistical challenges caused by the pandemic, we extended the invitation to NEGEM to many other interested collegiate iGEM teams in the US outside of New England.
We virtually hosted the teams from Purdue, MIT, UIUC, and Cornell to help establish community and foster cross-talk among regional iGEM teams, and to provide a way for teams to receive early feedback on their project progress from both iGEMers and a panel of event judges.
Purdue Team Presenting Their iGEM 2020 Project at NEGEM 2020
Our event kicked off on Friday, September 18th with guest speakers Dr. Pam Silver and Dr. Jake Beal (representing the iGEM Measurements Committee), who gave addresses on the development and evolution of synthetic biology, iGEM’s role in facilitating the growth of the field, and the importance of various aspects of measurement and common pitfalls, with each speaker remaining for Q&A sessions with attendees. We continued on Saturday with the individual team presentations, with each team giving a slide presentation for 15 minutes with 5 minutes of questioning. At the very end, Harvard iGEM gave a workshop on DNA origami basics, with the goal of teaching many others about a budding new field in synthetic biology.
Our awesome judges, Dr. Nikki Thadani, Chris Wintersinger, Dr. Nikhil Gopalkrishnan, and Anastasia Ershova gave a round of pointed questions and insightful advice to each team’s presentation, and their written feedback was distributed to teams shortly following the event. NEGEM was also instrumental in establishing a collaborative network with the UIUC iGEM team.