We collaborated with Tuebingen iGEM on the protein design and molecular dynamics aspects of our projects. Despite very different project motivations, we and Tuebingen both used rational protein design as a tool to improve the metal affinity of metal-binding proteins. We held several video calls over the term to discuss our work and help troubleshoot each others’ molecular dynamics software issues.
We specifically shared advice for using GROMACS (an MD software tool) with quantum mechanical and classical mechanical models and for developing an iterative protein design workflow. Their best advice to us: “repeat until completely bored”.
We collaborated with OhioState iGEM on the modelling aspects of their project. OhioState studied strategies for microbial biocontainment, and we helped develop strategies for engineering design, for modelling their proposed systems, and for retrieving relevant parameters from literature.
In July, we hosted a Canadian-wide virtual social hour to encourage communication between all members of the teams, meet new people, and build our local synthetic biology community. Over 20 students from six canadian igem teams chatted with three different people about their interests, their iGEM project for this year, and their favourite quarantine activities.
The goal of this event was primarily to promote community interaction across the country in a less formal setting given the transition to online conferences and meetings.
At the University of Calgary’s second annual JulyGEM event, we gave our first project pitch of the season and received feedback from judges early enough to implement for the iGEM Giant Jamboree. We also competed in fun games with teams made up of iGEM students across the world!
Team members also volunteered on the logistics team planning the conference working on fundraising material and event scheduling.
In October, we participated in cGEM, a virtual conference showcasing the synthetic biology projects of Canadian iGEM teams. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in funding uncertainties and various restrictions, the conference was introduced to support Canadian iGEM teams. The conference consisted of a competition where we received valuable feedback on our project design and progress, opportunities to connect with other Canadian teams, and workshops and panels hosted by experts in the field. Waterloo iGEM won a gold medal standing at cGEM!