Collaboration with other teams is central to the iGEM experience, and having the opportunity to work together with like-minded people from other places is always exciting! Despite the lack of physical meetings we were able to both host and participate in a number of events, ranging from social media activities to conferences. Not only did we benefit from each other's expertise but were also able to form new, invaluable bonds. We'd like to thank every team with whom we collaborated this year for your patience and cooperation!
Aachen, Darmstadt: iJET
Organised by the teams in Darmstadt and Aachen, teams around the world came together through a series of video clips depicting a paper plane flying through the screen as team members switched into lab coats. The collaborative and international spirit of iGEM was highlighted as scenes from around the world were presented as the backdrop, united by the common paper plane as a red thread. Many thanks to Darmstadt and Aachen for bringing us all together in this fun way!
Aalto-Helsinki: Nordic Ethics Workshop
Every project must deal with its own set of ethical considerations. iGEM Aalto-Helsinki team addressed these kinds of issues and invited all Nordic teams working on biosensors to discuss them at the Nordic Ethics Workshop hosted in late August. We gave feedback to each other's projects, going over the safety issues, practical and societal concerns, and other dos and don'ts of product implementation. The event also featured breakout room discussions on the ethics of GMO and biosensor use in research and practice. Hats off to Aalto-Helsinki for the informative workshop!
BITS Goa: iGEM Wiki Starter Pack
The iGEM Wiki Starter Pack by team iGEM BITS Goa, using which our own site was built, is a comprehensive template that streamlines the process of creating functional and modern iGEM wiki. It comes with features like a built-in theme, dark mode, markdown support, automatic citation, and much more, circumventing the need to reinvent the HTML wheel year after year and team after team. Captivated by their exciting presentation at the iGEM Global Meetup, we reached out to BITS Goa to help test and document the starter pack for future iGEM teams. A big thanks to the good folk at BITS Goa for the interesting collaboration opportunity, as well as for providing an excellent wiki framework for us to work on.
The iGEM Wiki Starter Pack documentation can be found from here.
Düsseldorf: Postcard Project
Once again, we rediscover the art and joy of sending and receiving cards from teams across the globe through iGEM Düsseldorf's long-running postcard project! All iGEM teams were invited to design and snail mail Düsseldorf 50 copies of a custom postcard briefly explaining their project. The cards were then distributed to all participating teams around the world. It's important to keep in touch with the community, and science communication with a touch of art is always appreciated. We were able to partake in the collaboration this year as well, and received a stack of beautiful cards in return!
iGEM Global Meetup
In light of the lack of a physical Jamboree, the iGEM Foundation decided to organize an official 2-day event in August called the iGEM Global Meetup featuring keynotes, workshops, practical competition info, a team spirit poster session, and other games and activities. Through the meetup we learned a lot of useful information (like rules on building our wiki) and were introduced to many exciting collaboration opportunities. Moreover, it was a blast to partake in the team spirit poster session and other recreational events hosted by organizers and teams alike. Hats off to everyone who made the meetup fun and possible!
Linköping: Virtual Nordic iGEM Conference
The annual Nordic iGEM Conference (NiC) is an event where Nordic iGEM teams are given a chance to present their projects and obtain feedback from each other prior to the Jamboree. This year's conference, initially planned to be held at Linköping in May, was unfortunately cancelled due to the pandemic. But the show must go on, and thus teams Stockholm and Linköping joined forces and decided to organize a one-day virtual NiC over Zoom instead. All Nordic iGEM teams were invited to give a freeform presentation on their project, and supervisors from both organizing teams held fascinating lectures on their research. After the main events, we closed the conference off with a round of party games. A big thanks to Linköping for planning and co-hosting the event, to the lecturers for presenting, and to all the teams for participating! The entirety of NiC was live streamed on iGEM Stockholm's YouTube channel.
Marburg-Gießen: German iGEM Online MeetUp
In early July, we took part in the German iGEM Online MeetUp hosted by iGEM Marburg-Gießen to discuss synthetic biology and share our project with other iGEM teams. More importantly, we were able to host a workshop discussing public engagement via "Lab on Screens". With restrictions placed on physical contact and social gatherings, many teams have likely faced difficulties with planning public engagement events and collaborations this year. To address these issues, points of discussion in the workshop included communicating synthetic biology to the general public, as well as safe outreach during pandemic times through digital media.
MSP-Maastricht: Journal Initiative
This year, iGEM MSP-Maastricht offered all the teams an opportunity to publish their project papers in a journal. The plan was to compile all iGEM projects into a single source to give an overview of research in iGEM in its entirety. Plus, it's an educational simulation of the actual publication and peer-reviewing process for those of us who are at an earlier stage in our studies. We are thrilled that the paper we submitted, titled Genetic Circuits and Corresponding Bacteria for Metal Reduction, was accepted into the printed journal! Kudos to MSP-Maastricht for arranging the collaboration and giving us a lovely journal to remember this year's iGEM competition by.
The MSP-Maastricht journal can be found from here.
MSP-Maastricht: Lab on Screens
For one episode of our "Lab on Screens" series, we were able to expand into the "digital kitchen" of iGEM MSP-Maastricht for a special crossover episode. To showcase enzymatic degradation, both teams were tasked with investigating and recording the effect of fruit enzymes on gelatin using either fresh, frozen, or boiled pineapple and kiwi. It's a shame we weren't able to physically work in the same kitchen, but the video turned out great all the same. A round of applause to the skilled home scientists at Maastricht!
UCopenhagen: Wiki Troubleshooting
Planning and building a wiki from the ground up is no easy task. This year, our team has been fortunate enough to find a fellow Nordic team, iGEM UCopenhagen, with whom to brainstorm and troubleshoot hours upon hours of wiki work. Thanks to our combined efforts, we were able to fix many a buggy margin and broken layout. The collaboration between us has been a productive experience that not only helped us improve our wikis but also form friendships from the other side of the pond. Cheers to UCopenhagen!
Uppsala: From Paper to Reality Workshop
Much of iGEM projects tend to stay theoretical, trapped in paper for the foreseeable future. This is especially true during a pandemic, where many teams are unable to gain even lab access. From Paper to Reality, a workshop held in late September by iGEM Uppsala, helped teams visualize their projects beyond the theory through lectures and exercises on essential skills like pitching and product development. We were able to give and receive feedback on how to pitch our project and came out of the workshop with a better presentation and clearer voice than before. Many thanks to Uppsala for hosting the event!