Whilst working on our project, we embraced one of the great aspects of the iGEM competition: meeting other teams and collaborating! This was a perfect way of learning about other projects and expanding our synthetic biology-related knowledge. Doing this with other enthusiastic young scientists worldwide, building relationships with other teams came naturally. This year, we have been able to both create and participate in collaborations with several teams, despite COVID-19 limitations. We even drew inspiration from COVID-19 as can be seen in the collaborations set up by our team. We are grateful to have contributed to engaging people in synthetic biology and to have participated in scientific and fun endeavors, which are listed below.
Symposium on Global Goals
Team FCB-UANL, team Aalto-Helsinki, team Rochester
On August 1st, we have hosted our first iGEM symposium on 'Global Goals', aiming to introduce synthetic biology to a broad audience, illustrated by three iGEM projects. With a diverse spectrum of different iGEM projects, we showed scientists and non-scientists, both iGEMmers and non-iGEMmers how science and society can be bridged by tackling global challenges. We thank team FCB-UANL, team Aalto-Helsinki and team Rochester for participating and presenting their project. More information can be found on our Education & Public Engagement page.
Symposium on Local Goals
Team MSP, team RUM, team UPCH
As our first symposium was a great success, we decided to host a second iGEM symposium on October 10th. Again, to create a conversation with non-scientists and scientists about the reach of possibilities with synthetic biology. This edition covered 'Local Goals' with presentations from team MSP, team RUM and team UPCH. As an introduction, Elsa Fristot from Labiome gave a talk about how she set up a company with iGEMmers. More information can be found on Education & Public Engagement page.
HP Knowledge Exchange
After presenting our project for the first time to an iGEM audience at the Benelux meetup, we received an email from the Taipei team. They reached out to us because their project has some strong similarities with ours. We held multiple meetings to discuss our project in order to see how we could assist each other in our joint goal of making a diagnostic testing device for epidemics.
We had several fruitful discussions in which we compared the totally different responses of our respective countries to the current pandemic. It was very eye-opening to see how much impact cultural differences can have on the response of a country to an outbreak. We had an in-depth discussion about what implications these cultural differences will have for kit development and implementation in both The Netherlands and Taiwan. We for instance saw that people in Taiwan adhere much better to governmental measures, whereas Dutch people are more recalcitrant.
In these discussions, we also discussed our human practices. We shared some stories about the input we got from stakeholders and experts in various fields. The Taipei team showed us how they conducted a survey. In a joint effort, we came up with some interesting survey questions which would give us more information regarding the implications of cultural differences. We planned to conduct a survey together to showcase the differences between the Dutch and Taiwanese public opinion. Unfortunately, this collaboration could not be completed due to time constraints. Nevertheless, we were very impressed by the high-quality project of Taipei. It was very inspiring for us as post-graduate students to collaborate with enthusiastic and devoted high school students!
My iGEM Project and SDGs
Team UPCH invited us to participate in their collaboration about SDGs, raising awareness about them within our own project. The goal was to describe three SDGs that our project contributes to. With this, team UPCH aimed to highlight the importance of science in society: a goal we completely support!
By competing in Team MSP's 'treasure hunt', we won a video collaboration. The treasure hunt consisted of solving a series of puzzles, gaining access to the final; a lottery with different prizes with amongst them our collaboration. Together, we created an informative video about PCR and how the technique relates to our project. More information on this collaboration can be found on the Education & Public Engagement page.
Diagnostics Track Global Meetup
We were invited by team Warwick to join a global meetup with teams in the diagnostics track on the 24th of October. Together with other teams, we have talked about our Wiki's, went through medal requirements and presented our project. With the other teams, we have had fruitful discussions and conversations.
From 22nd to 25th of July, we have attended the Benelux Meetup, organized by team Groningen. Each day was filled with team presentations, webinars, and fun activities, arranged by the participating teams. We presented our Rapidemic team presentation for the first time in front of an iGEM audience, on which we received feedback from iGEM-experienced judges. Our team hosted a fun activity as well, with a Google Maps Hunt going through Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, covering the entire Benelux.
Team Lausanne UNIL, team Chalmers Götenborg
Our team has contributed to the Transcriptome, a blog gathering articles written by university students worldwide, a collaboration set up by team Lausanne UNIL and team Chalmers Götenborg. By covering an article about PCR testing, we aimed to educate more on molecular diagnostic procedures. More information on this collaboration can be found on our Education & Public Engagement page.
Team Uppsala set up the Corona Outreach Program Instagram-initiative (COPI) to show the strong community within iGEM and that even in tougher times, the spirit of synthetic biology still connects us. They invited a team member for a Q&A about the pandemic on a national level and its impact on our iGEM project.
Team Darmstadt, team Aachen
By throwing an 'iJET' paper plane around to different iGEM teams and switching into a lab coat, team Aachen and team Darmstadt aimed to connect teams with each other. The videos are often being filmed in front of familiar national landmarks, which brings out the strong international aspect of the collaboration.
A world of SynBio
Team Delft came up with the idea to educate people about synthetic biology through a video, collaborating with as many teams as possible. In this informative video, iGEM teams share their project and illustrate what they are trying to achieve with synthetic biology.