A big part of iGEM are its people. From all over the world, students from so many different disciplines come together to create something innovative to help the world! And though all of us are divided by geographical barriers, we are all united by our curiosity about synthetic biology and our wish to make a difference.
This year being our first year in iGEM, we couldn’t wait to meet and interact with other students from various universities and institutions to help each other out with projects and ideas. But alas, when the Giant Jamboree was made virtual this year, we thought that we would miss out on a great opportunity. So needless to say, it came as a pleasant surprise when we saw the ways one can come up with to stay connected, in times of necessity. Even with the pandemic going on iGEM did not stop, and neither did everything else that makes it what it is. With the different online modes of communication, we got a chance to get in touch with several other teams with common goals and shared views. We got to assist each other in times of need by collaborating on so many different aspects. Along with that, while interacting with each other on social media platforms, hosting and participating in various fun activities in the team meet-ups, we made so many new friends in these few months that this collaboration aspect truly enriched our first-ever experience of iGEM.
1. Collaboration with CCU iGEM
We participated in an extensive collaboration with CCU iGEM, that was relevant and helpful to both our projects. Incidentally, we were both working on the Dengue disease and since we had this in common, we decided to reach out to them to know more about their project. We shared our project details with them and vice versa. We understood that CCU iGEM was working on developing a cheap diagnostic kit for Dengue.
We also found out that they had conducted a survey in Taiwan and since we too had conducted a survey in our country, we decided to share the data and stats collected in each of the surveys. This really helped us in planning our future endeavours and made us realize that we needed to spread more awareness.
And thus, for spreading awareness around the globe about dengue, its detection and drug development strategies, we jointly created a Global Dengue Survey Form with CCU iGEM which would not only create awareness about Dengue incidence and prevention but also help us to understand the mindset of the public about the disease and how we can increase our reach. (For more details , please visit Survey section under Human Practices )
This collaboration will also surely benefit the society by spreading knowledge about infectious diseases like dengue, how they are detected and how therapeutics are created against these. We collaborated with CCU Taiwan in the science-communication aspect of our project as well. They created a storybook in Chinese, about the dengue fever, which we translated to Hindi so that both the teams could share it locally and spread awareness among children too, about this dreaded disease. Check out the translated storybook Here!
2. Collaboration with iGEM IISER Pune
We had a great collaboration with iGEM IISER Pune too. In the initial days, we shared our project details with each other and found out that we were both working on two mosquito-borne diseases that run rampant, here in India- Dengue and Malaria. After that, we had a meeting with them to decide exactly what aspect we would collaborate in and decided that we will help each other's projects and organize a mosquito-borne disease awareness workshop for school children.
20th August is celebrated as World Mosquito Day. But since on 20th August, we had the iGEM Global Meet up, the workshop was organised on the 16th. Keeping the theme we had in mind, we planned the events for the programme so that students would be able to learn something from the event.
We kept the name for the event- "Attack of Mosquitoes: Warriors Assemble". The event's motive was to create general awareness among the school children about mosquito-borne diseases like dengue and malaria. We conducted a webinar on these topics and many school children had taken part. We also incorporated some fun activities which included- cleaning the surroundings for prevention of Mosquitoes breeding. Children also got an opportunity to ask their queries. We had a really nice interaction with the children- clearing their doubts and getting to know more about their curiosity regarding learning new things. We were overwhelmed to see how the students seriously took a step forward to complete these activities. (For more details , please visit Awareness Campaign with IISER Pune under Science Communication section )
We hope this awareness campaign has created positive ideas in those little minds and made them understand the importance of being aware of mosquito-borne diseases and their prevention and one day they too can encourage others to do the same.
3. Collaboration with MSP iGEM
We collaborated with the MSP iGEM team with their outreach program where they were working on a Youtube video series named "Geneducation" on Synthetic Biology. This video series informs the general public about the core concepts of Synthetic Biology in an interactive way. We felt really happy to be a part of it, to communicate Synthetic Biology knowledge to the masses. The video which we made in collaboration with them focused on Protein-Protein Interaction and how we are developing our FRaPPe System for Dengue using these PPIs.( Check the You Tube video Here )
This video series not only boosted our morale but also multiplied our enthusiasm to convey the knowledge to the general public.
4. Our own i-Mask collaboration
Due to the pandemic situation we understood that masks are going to be with us for a long time. So in order to spread awareness about wearing masks, we invited all the teams around the globe to participate in a fun MASK DESIGNING collaboration named "i-Mask". The theme we chose was ‘TV shows and Movies’ because those were what kept us sane throughout the continuous quarantine. A lot of teams came forward to take part in this awareness campaign. 7 teams around the globe participated in our Collaboration and helped our motive to reach a wider audience.
We would like to acknowledge these teams for coming forward and participating in our Collaboration and spreading the importance of wearing masks.
5. iJET Collaboration by iGEM Aachen and Dermstandt
We followed up the awesome initiative by the Team iGEM Aachen and Dermstandt where the idea was to show a paper plane connecting the world throughout a video, in which many teams all over the world participated, including us.
The final compiled video was great as it boosted our morale in this pandemic which showed that we iGEM-ers are all connected and there for each other in these tough times.Check out the video HERE!
6. Sounds of iGEM by iGEM IISER Bhopal
"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” - Plato We really liked the idea of creating a Spotify Playlist of the songs that different teams listen to all over the world, which was started by iGEM IISER Bhopal. We wholeheartedly participated in this Collaboration and got to know about different cultures and songs from all around the globe. It was indeed fun.
7. Collaboration with iGEM Team of University of Rochester and iGEM BITS Goa
We really appreciate the collaborative effort from iGEM teams of University of Rochester and BITS Goa to make iGEM accessible to all. We tried to make the iGEM experience more accessible by making a video and publicising it on Social Media in which we displayed a few commonly used phrases of iGEM in American Sign Language to have a more inclusive experience in the Giant Jamboree.
8. Social Media Challenges.
Sugar Rush Challenge by iGEM IISER Bhopal- iGEM IISERB team had come up with a creative way to tackle the boredom in this quarantine with the Sugar Rush Challenge, where everyone participating had to make a sweet dessert. We participated in this challenge which was indeed a stressbuster and clicked a photo and tagged their official Instagram page.
Nature Photography- We participated in this awesome Nature photography challenge where we have to click a photo of nature and tag iGEM UPCH Peru of their official Instagram page.
We also participated in “Three things I love about an iGEMer” challenge organised by iGEM IISER Bhopal where all the team members mentioned 3 perks of being an iGEM-er and tagged their official Instagram page.
1. iGEM BeNeLux Meet-up( July 22- July 25)
We attended the Benelux Meet-up hosted by iGEM Groningen, where we enjoyed quizzes, workshops and webinars by several scientists. It was the first Meet up we attended this year and the experience was great!
2. iGEM India Biosummit 2020 (July 25)
We participated in iGEM India Biosummit 2020 organised by iGEM BITS Goa, Manipal Bio-Machines, BITSMUN Goa and The Dais. The discussion was pretty interesting and we got to learn a lot about medical data privacy, ethics of terraforming, biowarfare prevention and genetic treatments.
3. Hosting the All India iGEM Meet 2020(31st July and 1st August)
We hosted the All India iGEM Meetup 2020 in collaboration with IISER Bhopal, IISER Berhampur, BITS Goa, IIT Roorkee and MIT Manipal, which was sponsored by Promega. This event was conducted from 31st July to 1st August 2020, over Zoom. Fifteen potential teams from India apart from the hosting teams registered for this competition (Not all of these teams have participated in iGEM 2020). All the Indian Teams came together and exchanged ideas, knowledge and visions of Synthetic Biology.
There were exciting talks by prominent scientists in the field of Synthetic Biology, Project and Poster Presentations from Teams, Quizzes as well as interactive sessions to get to know our fellow iGEM participants representing India this year.
Our project got a thorough review and assessment from the judges who were invited from different leading institutions across India. We later went on to answer those questions in our project, incorporated the suggestions and modulated the project idea accordingly.
We also hosted an event- the 'Sci-Pop Quiz' at All India iGEM Meet. It was a quiz based on Science in Pop Culture and the winners even got cash prizes from Promega.
Our Program also included a fireside chat with iGEM Alumni, where we listened to their stories, experiences and made us realize how much we will be missing out on, what with the Giant Jamboree being made virtual this year.
Here is the schedule for AIIM 2020.
4. iGEM Global Meet up
From August 20-22, iGEM Hosted a global meet up for all teams to connect, collaborate and celebrate. And we took this opportunity to organise two events-
I - What Do You Meme- where we gave meme templates and asked iGEMers to come up with memes. The event was amazing for us as we got to interact with so many iGEMers around the world and realised what a great sense of humour they had!
II - Riff Off - Game- where we hosted an online game activity similar to Antakshari (steal & continue songs) but with a competitive spin. Each round was based on either a particular band or a specific genre of music, and the participants had to sing a song relating to those. Whichever team couldn't sing a related song were given dares to do specific activities.
We also participated in a lot of other events and workshops organised by other Teams at the Global Meet-up. From these, we got a clear idea how to create our Wiki Page.
5. iGEM Worldwide Virtual Meet up hosted by Parisian Teams ( September 5-6)
We also didn't miss this opportunity to interact with the Parisian Teams. In their Project Pitch Session, we secured 2nd position which acted as a real morale boost for our team members. The Bio-Entrepreneurship Hackathon was really insightful.
Every year, a lot of iGEM teams conduct surveys to get feedback, spread awareness or collect data for their Project. We were honored to help them and become a part of their effort.
1. Survey by iGEM KCL on Whose Voice gets heard in iGEM?
Creating an inclusive environment is essential for creating a healthy and innovative scientific community. To know more about this diversity within iGEM teams, iGEM KCL conducted a survey and we happily participated in it.
2. Survey by iGEM Thessaly on IBD in iGEM Society
iGEM Thessaly is working on Inflammatory Bowel Disease and they needed data regarding the occurrence of IBD among igemers, so they started this survey. We filled in the survey and helped iGEM Thessaly to get a larger dataset.
3. Survey by iGEM Copenhagen on Chronic Inflammatory Diseases
We filled the survey by iGEM Copenhagen and shared it with our family members and friends.
4. Survey by iGEM IISER Pune on Malaria
We also participated in the survey by iGEM IISER Pune team and shared the survey with our friends, family members for them to have a larger dataset.
5. Global Dengue Survey Form
As mentioned earlier, we too built a survey form in collaboration with the CCU iGEM Team which is also working on Dengue to create a cheap diagnostic kit.
Both of our teams were trying to make our project meaningful to the society at large and to create awareness about Dengue incidence and prevention. For the same, we wanted to collect as much data as we could about the different factors related to dengue.
Thus, we launched our Global Dengue Survey Form and contacted teams around the globe to be a part of our survey.
Around 30 teams participated in our survey and we are really thankful to them for helping us to get a larger dataset.