Starting from team member selection, our team has placed great importance on maintaining diversity within the team. The gender ratio of our iGEM team is roughly even, with a male-to-female split of 4:6.
Additionally, the great ethnic and cultural diversity in our team is representative of the diversity of ASIJ itself, it being an international school. We have members who are culturally and linguistically fluent in English, Japanese and Mandarin, with further connections to Korea, Vietnam and more. This has enabled us to access communities across the globe in our educational outreach and professional interviews, in turn allowing our project to encompass more diverse perspectives.
Inclusivity in Education:
As part of our effort to educate others—especially younger children—about biology, members of our iGEM team joined the CSI class in ASIJ’s Summer Passport program. During this class, we assisted in a lab involving the extraction of DNA filaments from a banana. Before conducting the lab, Summer Passport and iGEM student members taught the middle school students in the CSI class about the molecular structure of
DNA, as well as other basic knowledge about genetics.
Synthetic Biology is usually taught in a high school setting and we hope that our educational outreach events can help younger children develop a passion for Synthetic Biology and also make it more accessible to our population.
Dry Lab Bootcamp
In conjunction with Korea_HS, we organized a dry lab webinar aiming to educate high school students on the applications of modeling software in scientific research.
Both Korea_HS and ASIJ_Tokyo realized that in our projects this year, modeling has served as a way to verify our findings and demonstrate how our project could be implemented in a hypothetical setting. Therefore, we realized the importance of showing other young students the potential and importance of modeling in an experimental setting.
For the event, we organized four presentations: “An Interactive Tutorial for Aptamer-Biomarker Modeling” (Annmarie Hashimoto, 2021 ASIJ_Tokyo Member), “PyMol 101” (Misaki Inoue, Imperial College London Student, 2019 ASIJ_Tokyo Leader), “Benchling & Pepfold 101” (Hannah Oh & Bojeong Kim, 2021 Korea_HS Member), and “Cell Designer 101” (Matthew Lee, 2021 Korea_HS Leader). These presentations aimed to showcase different modeling softwares that both teams used throughout the iGEM season and their applications in our different experiments.
Upon conclusion of our presentations, we held two breakout sessions with interactive activities. Additionally, since many participants were interested in participating in iGEM, we also gave a brief overview on synthetic biology and the experience of participating in the competition.
Our dry lab webinar was open to the public and free of charge, with participants hailing from countries like Korea, Japan and the Philippines. The recording of our dry lab webinar can also be available by request. We hope that we have managed to enlighten high school students on the uses of modeling software, as well as encourage them to participate in iGEM and the field of synthetic biology in the future to promote inclusivity in the field.
Inclusivity in Human Practices:
As an integral part of our community outreach efforts, ASIJ_Tokyo has placed emphasis on making contact with a wide demographic range of individuals. We have conducted interviews in English and Japanese with experts in the fields of biological sciences and breast cancer awareness. In addition, we have also conducted interviews with former breast cancer patients to learn about the stigma of breast cancer in Japan, and have used our Breast Cancer Awareness Month and educational videos to help express the sentiments and frustrations encountered by our interviewees. Many of our interviewees were unable to share their thoughts on breast cancer in fear of being judged by their coworkers, and by actively trying to make breast cancer a more accessible topic, we hope that the community can be more acceptive and supportive. Our international survey reached respondents ranging from their teens to middle age, and as an extension of the survey, we have interviewed consenting respondents of many ages and professions as well. Another focus has been interacting with the Japanese public, which we have done through further interviews and the distribution of Japanese educational pamphlets to improve their understanding of breast cancer.