Science Communication, as well as Human Practices in general, are hugely interconnected, and every part of society has to be taken into consideration. From scientists, over special interest groups to the general public. Without thoroughly informed scientists, ideas spread slowly, and new ideas might not be created at all. In addition, even the best ideas might not have the desired beneficial effect if the general public is skeptical about its implementation. With our science communication approach, we wanted to tackle both of these problems and more. Thus, ensuring that there are no roadblocks from the information and idea generation of scientists up to the implementation of ideas and in the end for the benefit of the society.
As the case of Golden Rice showed, a new invention can be groundbreaking and hugely beneficial to the society and still not get used if the general population is sceptical about it. Therefore, we are of the opinion that education and Science Communication should have a high priority among researchers as well. Our educational outreach efforts were centred around the concept of acceptance and implementation of synthetic biology applications. Understanding is the key for creating acceptance, as it was shown by Małyska, Maciąg, and Twardowski (2014)assessing the role of information flow in the public perception of GMOs. Often there is a gap between academia and the general public and we, team MSP-Maastricht, tried to bridge this gap by engaging with a wide range of communities to improve their understanding of synthetic biology and foster the acceptance of its applications. Furthermore, our Science Communication is deeply connected with our Integrated Human Practices, because the more we reach out to people, the more feedback and input we get back from them, which leads our project in new directions and aids in making it the best possible solution for our problem and the world.
First of all we, team MSP-Maastricht decided that it is not only the general public that needs to learn more about synthetic biology and research, but also members of the iGEM community. It is incredibly important to not only educate the general public about the new discoveries in synthetic biology, but also the scientists and researchers working in the field. In these fast changing times, it is hard to keep the overview of all great inventions that are made in synthetic biology and all of them should be acknowledged, as they can inspire new ideas in other people. For this reason we decided to create a Proceedings Journal for the 2020 iGEM Competition composed of as many team project articles as possible.
Besides engaging with the scientific community, we wanted to reach as many social groups as possible, which in the times of a global pandemic is not always easy, but the internet and communication technologies were of great help. We created an educational YouTube channel and recorded podcasts about synthetic biology, iGEM as well as our project and were also featured multiple times in web articles on a biotechnology news platform. More information about these activities can be found below.
In addition to our online education models, we also conducted several events in different communities to generate a dialogue and foster a passion for synthetic biology. We attended several events organized by other iGEM teams, which enabled and encouraged conversation between the general public and synthetic biology experts to consider public values and the ethics behind synthetic biology. Furthermore, at our university, we gave talks in different courses and presented our project and iGEM to other students.
We also met up with different iGEM teams from all over the world during multiple online meet-ups to discuss and learn from each other’s projects. More information about these meet-ups can be found here. Lastly, we also extended our online education by giving a workshop about environmental consciousness and pesticides, which is an integral part of our project to primary school children and creating YouTube content tailored to younger children to teach them about genetics and synthetic biology.
ACADEMIA AND IGEM EDUCATION
Very early in our project process we set ourselves the goal to create a Proceedings Journal compiling all the projects of the 2020 iGEM competition. For this we decided to collect research papers from all the iGEM teams willing to participate. This Journal works exactly like a regular scientific journal, including peer review. This will be a great opportunity for every participating team to train their academic writing and actually get their work published in a student journal!
We not only created an online Journal, but also a printed version, in which the best articles (rated by the participating teams) were published. Every article was peer-reviewed by other teams that sent in an article as well. Therefore, all teams are not only the author of a peer-reviewed article, but peer-reviewers as well.
In total we collected 42 articles from 35 teams.
A big thank you to all the teams that participated and made this collaboration possible. All the teams put in an incredible effort and showed amazing dedication to not only create a proper scientific article, but also to learn and peer-review on a professional level. More information on the exact content, audience, aims, format and framework of the Proceedings Journal can be found below.
AIM AND AUDIENCE
The iGEM community is growing every year and has become an incredible organization, with so many projects that have been done, are being done right now and will be done in the future. All the projects are found on the team WIKIs on the iGEM server in the end and everyone can access them and have a look at what the teams did. What we noticed though is that it is incredibly difficult to have a quick look at projects, to grasp their scientific background. The WIKIs are amazing, but it is quite time consuming to always switch from one project to the next and open up new pages. Therefore we thought, what if we could create a Proceedings Journal encompassing all the team's research as short, precise articles , which can be read by the viewer and used as a first orientation point. Then, if the reader likes certain projects based on their scientific article, they can check out those wikis for a more in depth, detailed representation and summary of the project.
The biggest target audience of our Proceedings Journal are the fellow iGEM’ers. The journal is a compact summary of many of the great iGEM projects of this year and all participants of iGEM2020 will be able to look back at 2020 by reading the journal and remembering all the great projects and teams. Even though almost everyone that participates in iGEM or is a part of iGEM has some kind of synthetic biology background and knows at least some basics, it is still interesting for them to have a look at the diverse selection tracks and projects that are so different from what they worked on, and what their project is. The Proceedings Journal will open up opportunities for dialog between iGEM participants and the teams that are part of the journal and hopefully this dialog will inspire many new ideas in the upcoming years.
Naturally, since the Proceedings Journal is a highly scientific journal with articles written in science jargon, we understood that reading this journal would not be the easiest for Laymen and we created a more user friendly “Muggle” version of the Journal for people without a science background. The Muggle Journal is a scientifically simplified version of the Proceedings Journal, targeted to the general public with less experience in reading scientific articles and research. This journal contains the same findings as the Proceedings Journal written in a language everyone can understand. With the articles in this journal, more people are able to understand the team's research! More information can be found in the Muggle Journal section.
Lastly, this collaboration is meant to be a learning and communication opportunity for the teams that became part of the Journal Initiative. The participating teams grew within the Journal process and became stronger, more adapted and knowledgeable. Being part of the Journal Initiative didn’t just mean that they wrote and submitted a scientific article that fit the scope of our Journal, but it meant to become integrated in the Journal publishing process and become a community. The teams learned how the publishing process of a scientific journal works and how collaboration and communication is an integral part of publishing research. All teams that submitted articles, also reviewed the articles of other teams, following the framework provided by us (read more about the framework below). By doing this the teams learned from each other's mistakes and also more about each other's projects. The teams developed a deeper understanding of peer review as an essential cornerstone of academic work and scientific publishing. A newfound appreciation for each other's work emerged in the teams and new collaborations and bonds were formed.
Receiving peer review reports from the peer reviewers, the teams were able to identify issues in their writing, more even in their research and could adapt their articles and research to resolve these issues. In some cases writing a scientific article about their project made teams realize what is still missing from their project or what they could change.
Naturally, we, team MSP-Maastricht also learned all these things the other teams learned, but on top of that we gained many useful skills. We learned not only how the publishing process of a scientific Journal works, but also how to organise it ourselves. The creation of Frameworks for our Journal, especially the peer-reviewing process was challenging, but in the end very educational and made us realise the importance of a good framework for a big collaboration initiative like this one. Promoting our initiative, communicating with participating teams, ensuring them and leading them through the whole process was a great learning experience for us and good practice for leading and presenting research later in life. We took incredibly much from this experience and are grateful for all the connections we made, skills we acquired and new knowledge we gathered.
When researching how to create a scientific journal we came across a journal called F1000research. F1000Research is more than a journal but an Open Science platform: Which means that all articles are published open access and the publishing and peer review processes are fully transparent. Moreover, all data of all the articles is directly linked to the articles and must be openly and easily accessible for everyone, mostly for the purpose of reproducibility, but also follow up experiments and studies. This model fascinated us and we wanted to find out more about their business and publishing model and inquire how we could potentially adapt parts of their model for our student-led journal. Hence we contacted Demitria Ellina, the Editorial Community Manager at F1000Research, and scheduled an interview with her. The interview was incredibly interesting and aided us greatly in coming up with our open science model, where all articles and also all peer reviews are openly accessible for everyone. The articles in our journal will be published under a Creative Commons license, which means that they will be freely accessible and, as long as the author is correctly assigned, can be freely copied and cited. The F1000Research editorial team believes that open access science and journals will soon become the new standard in our highly digitalized world. The advantages of open data and transparent publishing and peer reviewing process is overcoming traditional problems, like the unavailability of some papers for other researchers, long delay from research to publish and that in traditional journals not all results can be published (e.g. incomplete or negative results), even though they are still incredibly important for future research. Open access science, so Ellina, promotes collaboration, allows replication studies, encourages fair data principles and leads to more citations of the articles themselves. Lastly we inquired how F1000Research is dealing with the data management challenge, due to the demand that the articles need to have all their data directly linked. Ellina stated that F1000Research does not store the data on their servers themselves, but requires that the authors of the articles store their data in CC0-licenced repositories (e.g. Genbank), so that it can be accessed by the public. This persuaded us to directly link data as well by linking the articles written by the teams directly with their Wikis on the iGEM servers, so that if a researcher is interested in more detailed information and the experimental data, they are sent to the team’s Wiki, where they can find all the data.
In the end the interview was incredibly helpful and informative and persuaded us to base our Journal Framework on the open science model as well.
Below the Journal Template:
Peer-reviews are used as a method for quality assurance. This is achieved by having reviewers, with expertise in the same field (peers), evaluate a work. This provides a form of accountability and assures a high standard for publications. The peer-review model used by us was modeled after the peer-review guidelines of several infuential scientific journals, like Wiley, Reed Elsevier and PLOS. These journals provide the peer reviewers with certain guidelines and we used those guidelines and made a step by step review guide/framework out of them.
The highly accredited Publisher Wiley suggests a two step Peer review process, with a first step skimming phase and a second step deep reading process, in which the peer-reviewer answers a specific set of questions that are predetermined by the publisher. The Netherlands-based information and analytics company Reed Elsevier, specializing in scientific journals such as The Lancet and Cell, and the ScienceDirect collection of electronic journals, also has specific peer reviewing guidelines. We adapted some of their main features like the flagging of plagiarism and fraud and the determination of potential ethical issues.
Lastly, we had a talk with Demitra Ellina, the Editorial Community Manager at F1000Research, about the peer reviewing process of the F1000Research Journal. Based on that interview we modified our peer review process in such a way that at least one of the peer reviewing teams is in the same field as the team that is to be peer reviewed, to ensure the academic correctness of the article and not just the readability, format, scope and article eligibility, which can be assessed by any scientific researcher with a synthetic biology background. An example of this paring would be that the articles ”Cloning Signal Peptides in Front of the PETase and MHETase Genes for Extracellular Production of Plastic Degrading Enzymes “ was reviewed by a team that also worked with PET degradation enzymes, and additionally by a team that had a biology background, but did not have a topic related to PET degradation.
The peer-review was conducted in an ‘open system’. This means the reviewer and authors are not anonymous and the revisions and comments will be openly accessible. This way acknowledgments can be given to the input and hard work of the reviewers. An open process also ensures that everyone is doing their very best and treatment will be fair and respectful. In addition to that, it creates a better learning experience for everyone that took part in this collaboration.
The full Peer Review template can be found below.
Below a summary of all filled in peer reviews by the participating teams can be found.
The PDF of our Journal can be found on the WIKI of every team that participated in this initiative. Furthermore, the Journal can be found freely available on our website and one can even order the printed version on our website. As already mentioned in the Framework section, we decided that it would be best to keep the Journal open access to enable as many people as possible to become part of the iGEM community and educate themselves about what synthetic biology can do for our world.
MOLECULAR CLOUD INTERVIEW
On the 16th of October, our team was interviewed by the organisation MolecularCloud. Amongst others did we discuss our project, the unique characteristics of our product that make OakShield stand out from the rest. Additionally, we addressed our viewpoint regarding human practices and with this our most impactful initiatives, like the proceedings journal. We were very grateful for the opportunity to discuss our ideas and reflect upon them together with Josmary Medrano from MolecularCloud.
The Finished Work: The first IGEM proceedings Journal
Now you are probably curious what came out of the implementation of the frameworks and plans described above, here we present, the first iGEM proceedings journal:
Feedback is taking time to analyse one’s performance and then thinking of the best possible solution to perform better the next time. It provides positive critic and allows to see what everyone can change to improve their focus and results. We , Team Maastricht also want to improve ourselves, our organisation and our Journal for the next year. Therefore, we decided to ask a few teams for feedback on how the experienced the Journal initiative, if it was interesting and educational for them. We are thankful for all the effort every single team put into this Initiative. We grew together as a community and learned from each other more than we could have ever learned by ourselves. All teams were very invested in their collaboration, expressed their thoughts and provided feedback but some wrote a longer feedback for us that showcases just how much this Journal initiative inspired every participating team. We greatly appreciate the hard work and time the teams invested in this Initiative and into writing this Feedback. Thank you!
Creating a platform where university students from all around the world can come together, work together and discuss science together is an essential part of the iGEM community. As first-time participants in the iGEM competition, experiencing this sense of community was groundbreaking to us.
The Journal Initiative from the iGEM MSP team aims to combine the efforts of all the teams by giving them the opportunity to publish their work. In this way, they reflect the diversity and flexibility of this year's projects and engage us in an interdisciplinary communication.
To make the writing process as easy and clearly as possible, a well-designed template was provided. After submitting the first draft of an article, the peer review phase began. Two articles were sent to the participating teams for revision. In addition to the article, a detailed guide and form was provided, the instructions were clear and well worked out. Even with little experience, it was no problem to implement the requirements. Even though we had internal difficulties in our team and were not able to submit a final paper, the iGEM MSP team reacted understandingly and continued to support us in this collaboration. Despite our difficulties, the MSP team gave us the opportunity to participate in the final voting phase and cast our votes for the articles that were to be published in the end.
Overall, sufficient time was planned for the individual sub-steps during the collaboration. The communication between the iGEM MSP team and the participating teams was direct, fast and clear. They were open to every request from our side and always tried to support the participating teams in the process.
The MSP team gave us more than enough time to plan and write a paper, the registration deadline was a few months before the actual submission deadline. Additionally, the deadline for the submission of the first draft was late enough in the iGEM year so that first lab results could be implemented in the article. Reviewing two papers didn’t only give us the opportunity to get to know other teams and their projects better, we also got the chance to look "behind the scenes" of the judging process. Where lies the focus when critically looking at a scientific article? Apart from the content, how important are form and layout of an article? We also received very useful feedback on our own article, which we implemented in our work regarding the wiki pages. Also, the provided guideline made the reviewing time efficient. The articles could be thoroughly reviewed, and the form easily directed the focus on the different aspects of judging a scientific paper. The final voting process was fair, transparent, and uncomplicated. We appreciated that the iGEM MSP team shuffled the articles for every team on the website, so that there was no unfair advantage for the articles on top of the page. In addition, voting for one's own article was not allowed.
All in all, our participation in the collaboration was a very instructive experience. In addition to new skills in scientific writing, we were able to experience first-hand the teamwork and support that make up the iGEM community.
We are grateful for the opportunities the collaboration has given us, even if we did not cross the finish line in the end. We also admire the hard work and time effort the iGEM MSP team has invested in this project and are looking forward to collaborating again in future competitions.
The Journal initiative done by MSP was a really interesting collaboration! The Framework we had that helped us write our article was really well done and made it easier for us. It was fun to create an article based on our project.
The review phase was fun to do - reading other team’s articles was inspiring and the framework we had was extremely useful!
We think it was an interesting experience since it was the first time we actually wrote a whole article and the first time we did a peer review on one!
We want to thank MSP Maastricht for the opportunity and for their commitment!
The team would like to personally thank Larissa for her friendliness, for her willingness and for always answering to all of the questions we had via WhatsApp!
First: thank you very much for this great opportunity! It was a very interesting experience to write a paper about our project “M.A.R.S.”. The entire initiative seemed well planned and the corresponding instructions were very extensive and helpful, but still left enough space for independent development. Due to the intensive work within a processing time, which was of course rather short for typical paper, we got an initial idea of what it means to want to publish something – including the eager wait to see whether others are also so exciting about the topic. The double review also gave us a good insight into the concept of peer review. All in all, we are very happy that we could participate in this great collaboration!
The journal initiative was a great driving force to begin describing and highlighting the important aspects of our project. By having the peer review of other teams, we got diverse feedback on our project as well as a perspective on what other iGEM teams had been working on. The entire process was well structured and even though some issues arose the Maastricht team empathetically supported us through the process in writing our journal submission. The printed journal will be treasured reminder of the blood, sweat, tears and joy spent on iGEM as a whole.
GENERAL PUBLIC AND COMMUNITY SCIENCE
Science often has the problem that it stays in its own ‘bubble’ and the improvements , inventions and discoveries stay out of grasp for the general public. This is a large problem in this day and age as science is one of the most integral parts of society, at the same time scientific progress advances so fast that the general population always lags behind. We wanted to combat this ‘lag’ between scientific discovery and science journalism years later by creating a whole new type of journal. The iGEM Muggle Journal is a scientifically simplified version of the Proceedings Journal, targeted to the general public (or Muggles borrowed from the Harry Potter word for non-magicians) with less experience reading scientific articles and research. The iGEM Muggle Journal contains similar findings as the Proceedings Journal written in a language everyone can understand. Scientific articles can be challenging to read and understand for people who are not actively involved in the scientific community. With the Muggle Journal articles, more people are able to understand the team's research!
Furthermore the creation of the Muggle Journal was a great opportunity for all the contributing teams to showcase their talent, to break down their research to an understanding level for laymen and gave the Teams the opportunity to reach a wider audience. Ten teams participated in the collaboration and supported us greatly in designing an interactive Journal, which is tailored towards all age groups. Next to the articles it also includes Riddles, Pictures and games, as well as a rubric ‘Molecular Biology Art, showing great and artful microscopic pictures, to make it an easier read and to the general public about Synthetic biology, iGEM and the different IGEM projects.
Due to the ongoing pandemic it was very hard to reach out to educational institutions or organize educational activities. Therefore we decided that we would use the online platform everyone is familiar with, to reach the most people in the comfort of their home.
By starting our YouTube channel and most specifically our Geneducation playlist, our aim was to educate and inform people about genetic engineering and use of GMOs. We knew that a lack of scientific knowledge is the cause for many fears about GMOs:
- survey conducted in 2016 by Pew Research Center,
- Emma Sarappo (2018) The Less People Understand Science, the More Afraid of GMOs They Are, Pacific Standard,
- Sandra Knispel-U, 2019, More knowledge changes opinions on G.M. food, Futurity, Rochester.
We wanted to allow people of different ages to relatively quickly have a visualization of the molecular cell biology basics.
Educational video clips quickly seemed the best medium for our goal, especially in this period of lock-down and online education. Several articles aimed at high school teachers and a study conducted by Philip Gou about how video production affects students engagement, were taken into account for the format aspect, including length (under 7 minutes), language style (enthusiastic, slightly formal) and and rhythm (energetic if visually supported).
We have several different online ‘courses’ that work independently of each other, our standard ‘Geneducation’ teaches the basic of cell- and molecular biology. Because our target audience would hopefully include teenagers as well as adults with some or without any scientific background, we tried to start as general as possible and to build, video after video, a coherent and increasingly detailed picture of cell biology. To keep a ludic aspect, we avoided furnishing only theoretical abstract content by also linking the covered topics to concrete application. We offered at-home-lab courses including do it yourself videos for DNA extraction and bacterial culture so as to illustrate accessibility and concreteness of science. Some Geneducation videos were also exclusively for kids, with appropriate coverage and popularization.
To make our material available to the widest audience possible, we included subtitles in many different languages including Russian, Chinese, German, French, Greek, Finish and Dutch. Addition of new subtitles is open to everyone who wants to contribute. We also deliberately entered collaborations with other teams to diversify and add as many subtitles as possible. More on this topic can be found on our Collaborations and Partnership pages.
Finally, to keep this project as human and iGEM related, we used this Youtube platform to present other teams projects and interviews about iGEM experience in global pandemic context. We encouraged questions and open dialog by sharing our contact information via different media such as email, Facebook or Instagram.
To get feedback on the educational value of our YouTube channel ‘Geneducation’, we conducted a survey using Qualtrics on the content and format of our YouTube videos. The survey was carried out in compliance with the GDPR and the ethics and privacy guidelines of Maastricht University, and no sensitive personal data was collected. We especially aimed for the participants to cover different age groups to get a good picture of the response of our hopefully broad target audience. Apart from questions to be answered on a scale of one to ten, the survey also included optional questions, where participants could leave a comment or suggestions. Both types of questions were very valuable in our analysis, as they gave us quantitative and qualitative data. This created a more open dialogue with our audience and enabled us to adapt the planning of future videos and collaborations. In total 34 responses were collected, of which 24 (70.59%) completed the survey. The feedback from the survey is summarised below.
The demographic data of the survey participants is summarised in the graphs above. This data shows that the opinions and the suggestions gathered in the survey come from a diverse age group and background in biology.
The graphs above summarise the habits of the participants in content consumption in YouTube. The large majority of the participants watch YouTube videos daily. Educational videos are mostly consumed occasionally.
To motivate the participants to watch several Geneducation videos and focus on the topics explained in the videos, few content related questions were asked after each video. These were simple multiple choice questions or true-or-false statements. Between 62.50% - 95.83% of the answers were correct after each question.
The diagrams below summarise the answers on aspects relating to the channel and the videos. These aspects were rated on scale from 1-10, with a reference to the explanation shown in each question. The average score with the standard deviation was calculated and is shown with each question.
The participants had a chance to give further comments and suggestions on the topics covered in the videos and how to improve the videos and the channel. The suggestions for future videos included topics covering the DNA molecule and more aspects in genetic research more in detail, as well as topics that are not taught in school or less known in the general culture. The suggestions to improve the videos and the channel included using more visual support, such as pictures and animations, with the explanations, simplifying the explanations more for the audience with no background in biology, giving more examples of real-life applications of the discussed topics, and making the interactions between the presenters more dynamic.
Overall, the survey provided valuable feedback from the audience on the content and quality of the videos. Many of the suggestions and feedback are already implemented and visible in the latest Geneducation videos.
ENVIRONMENTAL CONSCIOUSNESS AND PESTICIDES WORKSHOP
We decided to put additional focus on children as an audience for science education. Children are curious about our world and are willing to change it. There is so much to learn and discover for them. Therefore, we designed together with MRIIRS-XXX a workshop to educate children about environmental pollution and the dangerous use of pesticides. Furthermore, we designed small questionnaires to stimulate the students' curiosity and keep them engaged and interested. We inspired the children to take small actions to help save our planet.
Encouraged questions and open dialog by sharing our contact information via different media such as email, Facebook or Instagram.
To reach an even broader public, on the second of September, five members of our team were interviewed on a radio show of the local station RTV Maastricht. They had a 40 minute discussion about the OPC and our iGEM project. The format of discussion was intersected by relevant music tracks, complementing the interview in an interesting and artistic way.
Since the OPC invasion is also a heavy issue in the Limburg region, we hoped to impact the local public and to raise awareness that students in Maastricht are tackling the problem. The whole interview was held in English so that it was not only aimed to Dutch speaking people but also to the important international community living in the area of Maastricht.
To encourage dialogue, we made sure to mention our social media at different times and also referred to our YouTube channel.
The team collaborated with iBowu China, who publish educational podcasts on the Chinese platform Ximalaya on a regular basis. Team MSP created podcasts about OakShield, the iGEM competition and synthetic biology in general. As the team from iBowu China mainly produces their podcasts in Mandarin, considering the target audience, we tried to keep our podcasts on a rather easy level in English.
Social media platforms for a significant amount of time have been underestimated as a medium for spreading scientific research. Our team has been consequently active on social media, especially Instagram. The team has used these platforms to reach and engage people by posting and sharing content regarding our projects progress, iGEM, synthetic biology in general as well as some at-home-lab video editions. Also many collaborations have started, and ended, here which made social media an indispensable way to give rise to successful initiatives. Shortly, it has enabled us to share our progress and all that comes along with an iGEM project. Over the course of seven months, we were able to more than double the amount of followers on Instagram compared to last year’s iGEM team.
The MSP-Maastricht team was invited to give a presentation on their project on Saturday the 10th of October, at the Synthetic biology Symposium about local challenges organized by the Leiden iGEM team. The symposium was an opportunity for the general public and other iGEMERS to hear about how synthetic biology can help solve local challenges. This was a great opportunity for the team to present Oak Shield and iGEM in general. Our team members Larissa and Ronja carried out the presentation, to which the audience responded with a lot of interest. After the presentation, the audience had some good and very critical questions and concerns, mainly about safety, marketing, and GMO. These are questions that we now have addressed, and we want to thank team Leiden for the opportunity to speak at this occasion.
In October, we attended the Canadian meet up and had a short talk about our project to bring attention to how synthetic biology can solve local challenges all around the world.
Every month, the aperture study association of the Science and Engineering Faculty of Maastricht University organises free science lectures for students. In these lectures students can have a peek in other disciplines and educate themselves about cutting edge scientific discoveries and research opportunities. On the 13th of October, we were invited to give a presentation about the iGEM competition and our project to encourage the students to consider joining the iGEM team during their studies and to make them enthusiastic about synthetic biology. We hope to see some of them in future Maastricht University iGEM teams.
Over the course of 4 months we have written blogs for the website ‘biotechnologie.nl’, a prestigious Dutch website that translates today’s scientific research on biotechnological topics to students of highschool level. Each blog focused on a different aspect, such as the project, the team, experimental setups in the lab and our very own experiences with the whole iGEM journey. In order to make these blogs accessible to a bigger audience, they were also posted in English on our own website. This initiative challenged us to put our project down in a fun way with a goal to inspire the target audience to engage in science, possibly in their future career. Feedback is an important factor here: this was provided by Lotte De Boer, a science journalist with a major in science communication. Her help has been indispensable in creating the best version of our blogs possible.