Engineering/Webinars

Engineering Webinars

On this page you will find information on: 2021 Engineering Webinar Series, and Previous Webinars.

This season the Engineering Committee will be hosting online events to connect with teams. Join us for new webinars throughout the season and check out the Previous Webinars at the bottom of this page for useful content as you begin working on your projects.

2021 Engineering Webinar Series

The Engineering Committee is hosting a new series of webinars to help you with your iGEM project. From project ideation and modeling, to DNA design and assembly, through to bioinformatics - you don't want to skip this series! You'll also be able to ask questions to the Engineering Committee members at the end of each webinar. This is a great opportunity to get some additional help from the experts! Please see the full schedule below.

New Webinars Added!

Webinar 14: Demonstrating Your Project’s Successes will take place on September 22 at 10:00 AM EDT and Webinar 15: Communicating your iGEM Project will take place on September 23 at 10:00 AM EDT

Please click below to pre-register and receive email reminders for the upcoming webinars. Reminders will be sent out 1-hour before the webinar begins. You will also receive a link to join the webinar in the confirmation and reminder emails! Note: You only need to register once for the whole webinar series.


If you were unable to join the webinars as they happened live, we have posted the recorded videos of the webinars below and on the iGEM Video Universe so you can watch them at your convenience.

Webinar 1: iGEM Project Ideation and Overview
24 May
May 24 - 10:00 AM EDT
Online: Zoom Webinar

In this webinar, we will go over what makes a good iGEM project and how to start the process of brainstorming your project. We will cover some of the iGEM timeline and highlight important features that every successful iGEM project and research project should consider.

Missed the webinar? You can watch the recording below!

Webinar 2: Modeling I: ODEs and Hill Functions
25 May
May 25 - 10:00 AM EDT
Online: Zoom Webinar

In this Modeling Webinar (Part I) we will go from ODEs (ordinary differential equations) and the law of mass action to Hill functions, their derivation, and how to use them to model the regulation of gene expression and inducible promoters. Additionally, we will explore Hill functions and explain the effects of parameters on activators, repressors, hybrid promoters, and the corresponding protein expression levels of GFP or any other reporter gene.

Missed the webinar? You can watch the recording below!

Webinar 3: Getting Started
26 May
May 26 - 10:00 AM EDT
Online: Zoom Webinar

You have defined your project and now you need to start planning and designing your genetic engineering approach. Seems like a daunting task! In this webinar we will cover “what you need to consider before starting to clone '': we will give an overview on available databases to identify relevant genes and coding sequences as well as we will give advice on a good cloning strategy and available assembly methods.

Missed the webinar? You can watch the recording below!

Webinar 4: Quantifying Fluorescence and Cell Count with Plate Readers
27 May
May 27 - 10:00 AM EDT
Online: Zoom Webinar

This webinar begins with a general introduction to fluorescence and OD, including a comparison of plate readers and other types of instruments, factors affecting fluorescence, and how to pick colors based on excitation and emission spectra. The second block of the webinar focuses on calibration of measurements for fluorescence and OD, and on debugging such measurements. Finally, we will end this session with a discussion of how to interpret and debug calibrated plate reader data.

Missed the webinar? You can watch the recording below!

Webinar 5: Modeling II: Modeling Circuits with ODEs and Experimental Data
1 June
June 1 - 10:00 AM EDT
Online: Zoom Webinar

In this modeling webinar (Part II) we will focus on how to use the previously learned concepts to model genetic circuits with ODEs and Hill functions. A circuit that is capable of "sense-compute-act" is used as an example. Then, we will learn how to relate this model with experimental data from this genetic circuit. Finally, we will focus on a more complex circuit, the Incoherent feed-forward motif to compare the results obtained from the model and its experimental measurements, enriching this way the model and completing one turn of the DBTL cycle.

Missed the webinar? You can watch the recording below!

Webinar 6: Basic Molecular Biology/Designing DNA sequences
2 June
June 2 - 10:00 AM EDT
Online: Zoom Webinar

In this webinar, we will first relate synthetic biology and core concepts to the DNA assembly techniques that are commonly implemented within iGEM and the synthetic biology community. We will then give an overview of key basic molecular biology techniques. Finally, we will look at DNA parts to help you design sequences for your iGEM projects.

Missed the webinar? You can watch the recording below!

Webinar 7: Design of Biological Networks
3 June
June 3 - 10:00 AM EDT
Online: Zoom Webinar

This webinar will discuss the array of design considerations for your genetic circuit when beginning a synthetic biology project. We will cover the basics of designing your biological circuits using examples of various approaches for different outputs. Furthermore, we will examine optimization methods for your system, different failure modes of genetic circuit design and much more!

Missed the webinar? You can watch the recording below!

Webinar 8: DNA Assembly Strategies
4 June
June 4 - 10:00 AM EDT
Online: Zoom Webinar

In this webinar, we will introduce commonly used DNA assembly techniques, such as Gibson and Golden Gate Assembly. We will discuss how to employ each assembly strategy in the lab environment and how each process works at the molecular level.

Missed the webinar? You can watch the recording below!

Webinar 9: Genome Engineering
7 June
June 7 - 10:00 AM EDT
Online: Zoom Webinar

This webinar will present the overall process of genome engineering. We will discuss different approaches and techniques used to engineer organisms from getting the DNA in to genome editing including CRSIPR/Cas approaches.

Missed the webinar? You can watch the recording below!

Webinar 10: Quantifying Fluorescence and Cell Phenotypes with Flow Cytometry
8 June
June 8 - 10:00 AM EDT
Online: Zoom Webinar

This webinar begins with an introduction to flow cytometry, including how these instruments operate and the types of data that they produce. The second block of the webinar focuses on calibration of measurements for fluorescence and cell size, and on debugging such measurements. Finally, we will end this session with a discussion of how to interpret and debug calibrated flow cytometry data.

Missed the webinar? You can watch the recording below!

Webinar 11: Bioinformatics - Computational Approaches to Analyze Sequences
10 June
June 10 - 10:00 AM EDT
Online: Zoom Webinar

The explosion in DNA sequencing has provided a lot of biological parts to use in your projects. But how do you select the right ones? Computational approaches can help. This webinar will introduce teams to analysis of genes by sequence analysis, and some approaches to analyzing protein sequences, particularly similar sequences, to identify primary, secondary and tertiary structural clues to help you select the best one for your projects.

Missed the webinar? You can watch the recording below!

Webinar 12: Lab Automation
28 June
June 28 - 10:00 AM EDT
Online: Zoom Webinar

This webinar will introduce lab automation practices in the context of synthetic biology and iGEM. We will focus on which protocols can be automated with the help of automated liquid handlers. We will have a brief overview of automation in the historical context of iGEM and then view the different case studies of automated DNA assembly, cloning and PCR and introduce some tools that can help your team setting up automated experiments.

Missed the webinar? You can watch the recording below!

Webinar 13: Just ask! How to get the answers to your SynBio questions on Stack Exchange
24 August
August 24 - 10:00 AM EDT
Online: Zoom Webinar

Have questions about the scientific side of your project? Trying to understand a protocol or looking for the best way to design a part? We have assembled a group of experts ready to answer your questions on StackExchange. Come along to our webinar to learn how to use the platform to get answers from them and the large Stack Exchange community.

We will post the video of the webinar after it takes place.

Webinar 14: Demonstrating Your Project’s Successes
22 September
September 22 - 10:00 AM EDT
Online: Zoom Webinar

In this webinar, we will go over how to demonstrate your project’s success, be it on your wiki, the parts registry, or somewhere else. Topics will include: demonstration of your project and your engineering successes (and failures). We will also talk about how to properly show characterization of your DNA parts so that other teams can find, use, and understand your DNA parts.

We will post the video of the webinar after it takes place.

Webinar 15: Communicating your iGEM Project
23 September
September 23 - 10:00 AM EDT
Online: Zoom Webinar

In this webinar, we will discuss some tips to present and communicate your project to an audience. Topics will include: organization of your presentation, tips on building better slides, how to present them as well as how to adapt your presentation to various audiences.

We will post the video of the webinar after it takes place.

Webinars - Curated 2020 Content

The 2020 Measurement Committee hosted a series of weekly webinars to help iGEM teams with your projects! Planned topics include taking your ideas into the lab, designing DNA sequences, DNA part assembly from classical to modern methods, engineering your organism, modeling your project, measuring cellular phenotypes like fluorescence, and how to purify and characterize protein products.

Week 0 - Introduction to the Summer Webinars from the Measurement Committee

June 9: During this first session, we will briefly give an overview on the summer webinar series, describing what we hope to accomplish and what we hope that you will get out of attending. This webinar, and all of the following webinars, will be made available online after the webinar is finished. Additional related content can be found online.

Week 1 - iGEM Summer Webinars: Getting Started

June 16: The first session of the iGEM Measurement committee’s summer webinars opens with an overview of how and where to start your project, as well as what you can plan and design. The second block will be a beginner’s guide on how to utilize databases effectively in conjunction with bioinformatics tools. We will end this session with an overview of the decision making process when choosing a cloning strategy.

Supplementary material:

Week 2A - Modeling: ODEs and Hill Functions

June 23:In this Modeling Webinar (Part I) we will go from ODEs (ordinary differential equations) and the law of mass action to Hill functions, their derivation, and how to use them to model the regulation of gene expression and inducible promoters. Additionally, we will explore Hill functions and explain the effects of parameters on activators, repressors, hybrid promoters, and the corresponding protein expression levels of GFP or any other reporter gene.

Supplementary material:

Week 2B - DNA parts and Basic Molecular Biology

June 23:In this molecular biology webinar, we will cover important concepts including, standard parts and why they are important in synthetic biology, what the iGEM registry is, and what a "part collection" is. Additionally, we will introduce you to core molecular biology techniques, giving you links to videos and protocols. Additionally, we will highlight a few important "part collections", the measurement data affiliated with these collections, and why these measurements as well as the part registry are so important when deciding what DNA parts to use.

Week 3A - Modeling circuits with ODEs and experimental data

June 30:In this modeling webinar (Part II) we will focus on how to use the previously learned concepts to model genetic circuits with ODEs and Hill functions. A circuit that is capable of "sense-compute-act" is used as an example. Then, we will learn how to relate this model with experimental data from this genetic circuit. Finally, we will focus on a more complex circuit, the Incoherent feed-forward motif to compare the results obtained from the model and its experimental measurements, enriching this way the model and completing one turn of the DBTL cycle.

Supplementary material:

Week 3B - DNA Assembly Techniques

June 30:In this molecular biology webinar, we will cover the creation of DNA primers for use in PCR reactions. We will also introduce the key concepts behind Golden Gate Assembly, why it is useful when working with DNA "parts", and then go into using Modular Cloning. There will be demonstrations of designing primers and using DNA parts that are Golden Gate compatible using various Web Apps. iGEM students should also review the iGEM partners page to learn about how to get free DNA synthesis services!

Week 4 - Gibson Assembly and Yeast

July 7:In this molecular biology webinar, we will cover what Gibson Assembly is and how to create a plasmid using this powerful technique. Additionally, we will go over some of the basics of working with yeast and how yeast can be used to also assemble large amounts of DNA using their endogenous pathways.

Week 5A - Quantifying fluorescence and cell count with plate readers

July 14:This webinar begins with a general introduction to fluorescence and OD, including a comparison of plate readers and other types of instruments, factors affecting fluorescence, and how to pick colors based on excitation and emission spectra. The second block of the webinar focuses on calibration of measurements for fluorescence and OD, and on debugging such measurements. Finally, we will end this session with a discussion of how to interpret and debug calibrated plate reader data.

Week 5B - Cell-Free Systems

July 14:This webinar will cover Cell-free (CF) systems. These systems contain all of the cellular components necessary for transcription and/or translation, depending on the specific CF system being used. We will outline why this is an exciting area of research as well as how to use and make these systems.

Week 6A - Quantifying fluorescence and cell phenotypes with flow cytometry

July 21: This webinar begins with an introduction to flow cytometry, including how these instruments operate and the types of data that they produce. The second block of the webinar focuses on calibration of measurements for fluorescence and cell size, and on debugging such measurements. Finally, we will end this session with a discussion of how to interpret and debug calibrated flow cytometry data.

Week 6B - Transformation and Sequencing

July 21: In this molecular biology webinar, we will cover some of the most important techniques for genetically modifying bacteria. We will cover standard electroporation and chemical transformation techniques for E. coli. We will also cover conjugation, a technique commonly used to genetically engineer organisms that are less well studied or organisms that cannot be easily electroporated or chemically transformed. Finally, we will cover the process of Sanger sequencing, look over a sequencing result, and demonstrate how to align sequencing results to a reference file.

Week 7 - CRISPR

July 28

Week 8 - Protein Purification and Characterization

August 4: This Webinar will provide an overview of protein characterization that covers analytical techniques used to purify recombinant proteins and evaluate protein purity. The topics primarily focus on methods employed to characterize the physicochemical properties of targeted proteins. We will begin by discussing important aspects of protein structure taken into consideration when purifying a protein of interest. We will then provide guidelines for selecting appropriate purification methods and evaluating purity using qualitative and quantitative techniques.