Team:Nanjing NFLS/Overview

Human Practices

Our Human Practices System

Human Practices is the study of how our work can affect the world (output), and how the world can influence our work (input). Inspired by the mission of Human Practices, we mainly focus on two points:
1. Our project should be good for the world.
2. How can Human Practices shape us in different stages.


Whom does this project concern and how can our project help them?

Our system consists of “Public”, “College”, “School’, “Company” and “Collaborations”. Public can tell us the general understanding of synthetic biology and Microbial Fuel Cell and we try to arouse public awareness in the field through passages, lectures and video (even games). College professors provide us with specific suggestions and new perspective to view the situation. We promote iGEM and synthetic biology in primary schools to intrigue interest in this field among the younger generations and junior high schools to prepare them for future iGEM competitions. By interviewing experts working in environmental enterprise and in the Research & Development of new energy, we seek market information in this industry and suggestion on improving & commercializing our product. Through Collaborations and Meetups with other iGEMers in different regions, we can exchange ideas and learn a lot from each other. Covering “Public”, “College”, “School’, “Company” and “Collaborations”, the System can effectively guide us to achieve Integrated Human Practices.


Our work is good for the world.

Our Human Practices system includes active engagement with Public, College, School, Company and Collaborations with iGEMers.

Public’s ideas Firstly, after deciding to deal with Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) in this year’s project, we conducted a public survey on synthetic biology and MFCs. Based on the results of online survey, we learnt the public concerns about bio ethics and their willingness to improve bio energy resources and waste treatment methods like MFCs. So we keep doing research on MFCs and immediately consult to ethic experts about our project.

Safety awareness Secondly, as bioethics is crucial in the research and development process, we visited Prof. Zhao Ling in Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (NUAA) and learned about bioethics rules, biotech principles and the ways to deal with potential risks. By taking engineering ethics online courses taught by Prof. Zhao, all team members derived a better understanding in the field of bioethics and implemented these rules & principles in the following experiments.

Education purposes Thirdly, we actively promoted synthetic biology in schools. Throughout the school season we organized workshops at Nanjing Foreign Language School with our partner team NFLS to both exchange ideas and to increase the awareness in this field in our school community. We delivered lectures at Nanjing Lixue Primary School to generate interest in biology in the younger generation. We taught series elective course at High School affiliated to Nanjing Nanjing Normal University and organized fun activities like debates on bioethics and bio-safety, encouraging students to actively think and reflex. We also attended online club meeting of team 101, oriented at proficient iGEMers and freshmen.

How HP shape our project in different stages?

We integrated Human Practices into our project through our project. We keep revising and improving our project based on what we learned and acquired from different communities.

Firstly, we seek advice from professionals working in related fields to improve our project.
By interviewing Prof. Zhao NUAA and taking her online courses, we reinforced our core value, “good for people and the world” and implemented bioethics rules like “NOT RELEASE” during our project to ensure safety. The first version of our project is to improve the electricity output of MFCs, simply by increasing electron generation and transfer efficiency. After discussing with Prof. Yong, Nanjing University of Technology, we acquired loads of inspirations in making our MFC environmentally friendly and chose Pseudomonas aeruginosa (BSL-2), and valuable advice on possible genes that we may overexpress. We also got the idea of combining Bio-Electro-Fenton (BEF) system with a novel Fe-Mn/graphite felt composite cathode to purifying the solution, as another aspect of improving MFCs.

Secondly, we also got inspirations and ideas when discussing with other iGEMers. We acquired the inspiration of kill switch by exchanging ideas with team Tsinghua during Beijing International iGEMer Collaboration Seminar. While discussing with team KEYSTONE, we were impressed by their creative idea of designing an educational video game to promote basic synthetic biology knowledge among the public. The cooperation among eight iGEM teams was thus formed and we kept sharing ideas and developed the game together.

Thirdly, we visited experts working on the cutting edge of environmental protection and new energy to acquire valuable suggestions in improving and commercializing our products. By interviewing Mr. REN Desheng, General Engineer of Jiangsu jiangnan environmental engineering design Instituteand Dr. ZHU Fahua, Deputy Director of Guodian Science and Technology Co.Ltd, we got the inspiration to fill the anode of MFC with industrial waste water and turned ‘the waste’ into ‘resources’, which can be effective to reduce the cost of MFC operations. Here we got the completed version of our project, “MFCs Improved in Different Aspects Safely”, and each word of the title involved contribution from Human Practices!