Team:IISER Berhampur/Education


Science Communication


We believe that science not communicated is science conspired. Engaging common people in the field of science and making them understand the laws and flaws of science has been a practice of enthusiasts since ages. So in this unpredictable year, where it was practically impossible to physically reach out to the society, we made our best efforts to reach out to the common people, through online modes of communication and tried to spread science with positivity. Various approaches were made by our team to engage people from all age-groups in a wide range of activities. Surf through to get an elaborate idea!

1. Webinar with IISER PUNE (Awareness Campaign)

In collaboration with iGEM IISER Pune, we conducted an online one-day awareness webinar for school students of classes 6th to 8th, which solely aimed at making them understand the importance of spreading awareness about the deadly mosquito-borne diseases. The webinar was titled, “Attack of Mosquitoes: Warriors Assemble” in which we explained about certain aspects of Dengue and Malaria and conducted a few live activities for them such as "Word Search" and "Spotting Breeding Places" from live pictures. As an extension of this interactive and informative session, we also conducted a post-webinar activity in which they were requested to clean the mosquito breeding places near their houses and share pictures with us. As encouragement, they were also awarded with Amazon vouchers for completing this activity.

To help them learn something valuable, we needed to understand how much of the topic they were already aware of and how much we needed to convey through the webinar. For the same, we decided to conduct a survey with the same questions both at the start and the end of the webinar. The students’ responses in the Post-webinar Survey were mostly accurate, signifying that we were successfully able to impart some essential information about the spread of mosquito-borne diseases, through this endeavour.

2. Blog (Synthetic Biology)

As a part of the Educational Engagement aspect of iGEM, with the support of some motivated students from IISER Berhampur, we started a blog on Synthetic Biology called, 'Syntillate'. The blog is a part of our website and comprises short articles on various facets of Synthetic Biology, aimed at providing a basic level understanding of this exciting field. Some of the topics addressed in this blog include : The different tools used in Synthetic Biology and their applications, interdisciplinary research in Synthetic Biology, and some interesting developments in this field.

Syntillate served two purposes : It enabled us to engage enthusiastic young writers from different disciplines in our home institute by compiling their articles, while at the same time generating a resource that can help individuals from different walks of life to get a flavour of this fascinating field.

#1 : Basics. ( Click Here to read )

I) Syn-bio at Glance:
Curious as to what the buzz about Synbio is? Read to find out!
By Nishad Gosavi

II) Synthetic Biology 101 :
Ever had crazy dreams about Martian dwellers growing plants on just another pleasant summer day without a care in the world?
Read this, and you might just start believing in those dreams…
By Ankita Misra

III) Transcending disciplines like a boss! :
The "biologists" are at it again...well, in the Land of Syns, it turns out, we have quite a diverse collection of eccentric scientists to flaunt!
By Kingkini Roychoudhury

#2 : Tools and Techniques ( Click Here to read )

I) The Revolution of Gene Editing Tools :
Could we edit genes to make ourselves smarter? Read this article to find out!
By Gokul Bhaskaran

II) Minimal Life :
A new Horizon of Synthetic Biology.
By Akankshya Sahu and Sunil Dhasmana

III) The Elegance of C. elegans :
Who knew worms could be nifty too?
By Kanika Phagna

IV) In Silico Platforms :
The 21st CE has witnessed amazing feats. Sending spacecraft to the peripheral reaches of the solar system, scouting the Higgs boson, or even editing DNA to test reproductive boundaries. What's left? Biology using just a computer!
By Kunjulakshmi R

#3 Prospects ( Click Here to read )

I)Basics of Biosensors :
A machine smelling odour and sending messages? Finding how many pollutants you are breathing in? Or even giving a warning when your food has gone off...Biosensors are everywhere!
By Shiviya Raina

II)Physics of Biosensors :
If you read the previous article, you must have been wondering ... how do these sensors actually work? Curious about the intricate designs and principles dictating these fascinating devices?
By Nabendu S. Mishra

III)Applications of Biosensors :
So now we are experts on biosensors...let's take a look at some of the real-world applications of these. Who knows...maybe these will help you gain inspiration for your own crazy ideas!
By Pratyush Mishra

IV) Hachimoji DNA :
What is this weird name?
Let's just say...Read this and you might be one step closer to finding extra-terrestial life!
By Rohan Nath

V)Synthetic Life Forms :
If we could make life in a Bottle!
Impending doom or march towards progress? There's only one way to really find out.
By Anuska Mohapatra

VI)Computational Aspects of Drug Design :
A new frontier : making customised drugs at the click of a few buttons on your computer…
By Harshita Mahajan

VII) Bugs as Drugs :
The pesky little microbes that make our lives a living hell quite often have found a new use!
They could now just as well become the magic bullets that will save us.
By Gayathry Thampi

VIII) The Fuel of the Future :
Synthetic Biology has had an indelible impact on environmental remediation. In this article, you will come to know of one such aspect where it has helped achieve breakthroughs.
By Gautham Srinivasan

IX) The Role of Synbio in Pollution Control : A Much Awaited Plot Twist!
As our environment is battered by the impacts of climate change and human activity, we need to explore all options. Out of all these amazing possibilities, the research in this field is still incomplete and needs the support of imaginative minds. What could be the pioneering few discoveries?
By Mayurakshi Das

#4 Ethics ( Click Here to read )

The major safety issues related to Synthetic Biology are:
Accidental release of modified organisms into the environment.
Introducing modified organisms into the environment where it is supposed to be benign.
Deliberately releasing modified organisms to cause harm (Bio-weapons).
By Gokul Madhav

Articles in Science communication Blogs.

To communicate our ideas about FRaPPe in particular, and Synbio in general, to a larger audience, we submitted two articles in popular science communication blogs. The first one titled "Manipulating Protein Interactions in Engineered Cells” was published in The Qrius Rhino. It talks about how scientists study protein-protein interactions using synthetic biology in cells. It was written by our team Member Gokul Madhav.

The second one titled "WHAT I CANNOT CREATE, I DO NOT UNDERSTAND" was published in the Next Gen Scientist's Foundation blog. It highlights what Synbio is all about and how our team is using it to create a system that could combat Dengue. It was written by our team member Sukanya Chakraborty. ( Click Here to read )

3. Comic strip (explaining synthetic biology in a fun and easy way)

To make Synbio accessible to a general, non-scientific audience and convey its nuances without complicated scientific jargon, what better way than comics! Comics are an age-old favourite, perfect for a casual read or just to kill time. Science comics are knowledgeable and engaging too. Our comic strip will take you through various cities within the “Land of SYNS”. Every city (Live-ingston, Nucleazone, Sens-inatti, Medlands and Naturama) in Syland comes embellished with its own charm, with all its citizens working relentlessly to realize the utopian future. The comic strip has been released in seven chapters, by bringing together some of our most creative minds in order to create something for all age-groups. The entire comic strip was crafted by our Team Members Prachiti Vithole, Kingkini Roychoudhury and Sayantani Biswas.

4. Social Media Engagement

Social Media has become a powerful tool to reach nearly every corner of the globe and leave an indelible impact. We used social media to clarify prevailing myths and notions that people often harbour about Dengue, We also shared a few easy techniques and precautions that everyone can apply to prevent mosquito breeding grounds in and around their houses.

Additionally, we collaborated with a number of iGEM teams and produced YouTube videos to spread awareness about Dengue as well as Synthetic Biology.

Interview with Molecular Cloud

Molecular Cloud supported us when we needed it the most. Their sponsorship scheme is one of a kind as it provides a platform for the teams to showcase their project to a global audience. In a bid to present our project to the public, we prepared a poster highlighting all its salient features. Along with this, 2 months of hard work and generating a strong social media presence, helped us win the sponsorship for the month of September. Following our win, Molecular Cloud contacted us for an interview where we presented our project in more detail, emphasising on both the scientific and the human practices flavours of it. Outreach has always been a very important aspect of our project, and with the help of Molecular Cloud we have been able to convey our idea fruitfully.

5. Public Outreach

Public Engagement in these pandemic times has been a challenge, but we, a team of young enthusiasts, were ready to face this challenge without any violation of the safety measures and protocols.

We realised the importance of facilitating timely awareness about mosquito breeding and Dengue prevention among the common people, especially in the monsoon season. So, for the outreach programme, we wanted to help the society by educating them.

To fulfill this aim, during our outreach engagement, we distributed pamphlets with basic scientific information about Dengue and some fundamental steps for its prevention. The information brochure comprised simple and logical details about how effective precautionary measures can help us get rid of any mosquito-borne disease. We distributed these pamphlets to about 70 families and explained to them, in their native languages, the importance of taking these precautionary measures so that they could easily avoid getting affected by Dengue fever and other diseases.

We witnessed curious and interesting responses not only from the children but also from the elders of the family. This activity was a delight and also an eye-opener for the team towards the general perception in the society about Dengue Fever. However, what was most enjoyable was the eagerness and willingness shown by the community to understand scientific concepts. The interesting queries they had, including why there is still no medicine for Dengue, possibility of reinfection, prevention methodologies, invasiveness intensity and so on, made this entire activity much more interactive and productive.

We were happy to receive their doubts and the team tried to navigate them through scientific and medical concepts to the best of our knowledge. And we took this opportunity to also stress upon the importance of personal and surrounding area cleanliness, which is the need of the hour.

We feel privileged to have been able to interact with them and we hope our team could make a contribution, howsoever imperceptible, to society which will help them to make wise and thoughtful decisions. It was indeed a remarkable experience for our team

©iGEM IISER Berhampur