Through social media, iGEM Rochesterwas the first team that we reached out to. After a short exchange of information, we found out that there are many similarities between the two teams. In addition to competing in the same track, both teams use biomarkers in body fluids for detection. After an arrangement through Instagram on our side, we successfully scheduled a meetup on Zoom with them. During the meetup, both teams presented a short overview of our projects, plans with the respective aspects of the competition, as well as the difficulties we had faced through the course of the competition. As both teams use biomarkers in body fluids to compete in the diagnostics track, we could share at length the issues we faced in terms of the purification of body fluids (see Design), a critical aspect of diagnostic tools in the medical industry to ensure accuracy and availability in the detection of illnesses. On top of which, our methods to carry out Education and Human Practices were also exchanged since both countries were still on lockdown due to the pandemic. Through the exchanged thoughts on numerous overlapping aspects of both teams, we gained much inspiration and direction, which had a great impact on our projects later on .
A screenshot of both teams during the discussion, our team with the same virtual background at the back
iGEM KCL UK
As it is indeed the first time our team members have ever participated in the iGEM competition,
there were struggles, understandably, in the execution of our lab arrangements, especially under the
circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through various social media platforms, our team decided to then
contact iGEM KCL UK, who was in Phase II of their iGEM project. They agreed and arranged a date to meet with
us on Zoom in June to discuss more about our projects.
Through the session, they provided valuable suggestions based on their past experiences, including suggestions
on the execution of our plans in alternative ways, with regard to our Wet-lab work as
well as Human Practices and Education. They have also shown themselves as great mentors through their guidance on our team’s
modeling, particularly the model on circular DNA sequence design(see Model). Last but not least, iGEM KCL UK
has guided us extensively in the establishment of our wiki page.
We had valuable takeaways from the session. We learned from them how to work more flexibly, finding more
alternatives to replace the plans that were abandoned due to a sudden spike in severity of the pandemic in
our own country, which was critical in ensuring that similar objectives could be reached even without
A screenshot of both teams at the end of the discussion
2021 Taiwan iGEM Meetup Conference
On 3rd July, 2021, the Taiwan iGEM Meetup Conference that our team arranged this year took place online. We invited 6 iGEM Undergrad teams from several universities in Taiwan. The participating teams included CCU_Taiwan, NCHU_Taichung, NCKU_Tainan, NCTU_Formosa, NTHU_Taiwan, NYCU-Taipei and our team.
How it all started
In the beginning of our conference preparation, almost all of the iGEM activities, such as interviews, lab experiments, and field surveys, were postponed due to epidemic prevention measures. After several discussions with our primary instructor and other team leaders, our team decided to host the meetup online for further collaborations.
What we have learned and gained
In the 2021 Taiwan iGEM Meetup Conference, each team gave a detailed presentation of their topic of research, as well as different aspects of their project. After that, there was a platform online, which was conducted by our team, providing teams with a space to ask each other questions regarding their respective projects. This provided a great opportunity for all teams to reflect on their project from a third person's point of view. Not only did each team benefit from the questions thrown at them, each team also learned the aspects of the iGEM competition that they ought to pay more attention to for their own project. After which, teams moved into the next section to discuss possible collaborations or even partnership opportunities. Through which, teams of similar projects or goals were able to connect quickly and join forces in making bigger contributions to the iGEM community. We are happy to know that our initiative has successfully opened up doors in the local iGEM community, and we have also learned much from interactions with the respective teams.
See Science Communicationfor more.
Our team presenting the aim of our project
NCHU_Taichung making their presentation
NCKU_Tainan making their presentation
A group photo of all participants
A screenshot of our Q&A platform
This was our one and only collaboration done among more than three countries, and it was also the only one that successfully made it "abroad". Via Instagram, we got in touch with iGEM Duesseldorf, and they sent us an invitation asking whether or not we wanted to engage in this international project. We were thrilled to receive an invitation from them, therefore we immediately said yes to that and started designing our postcard. During the designing, we put our mascots and short descriptions of our topic this year onto the draft. Everything seemed to be progressing smoothly. Yet, an unexpected incident occurred—we could not send out our design. They've provided a website beforehand, but we still couldn't submit our postcard design, nor could we finish the payment. We desperately wanted to figure things out, therefore we wrote an e-mail to their team, explaining our technological difficulties. That was when they saw the opportunity to arrange a Zoom meeting, and soon we set the date together. As we shared our thoughts through our screens, we finalized our postcard design and successfully submitted it. Although the package is still on its way, we have just received a digital version of all the postcards recently. It is truly inspiring to see so many vibrant postcards from teams all around the world, and as we admire these postcards online, we exchange and share thoughts of our projects. This huge postcard collaboration, with around 90 teams engaged, seems to be more precious under this pandemic. Being able to collaborate under COVID-19 is what makes iGEM so special. Exchanges, both academically and culturally, are thought-provoking and also unstoppable. Thank you iGEM Duesseldorf for inviting us.
The digital form of all the postcards
To encourage the participation of high school iGEM teams, our team has also reached iGEM Mingdao, guiding them through various synthetic-biology-related skills with our limited expertise. As lab skills are not emphasized at the high school level, our team took the initiative to mentor the team members of iGEM Mingdao in that area, especially basic lab skills related to biology, which helped them in making a smoother execution of their project. iGEM Mingdao has also offered much help to us in the decision of experiment designs. By exploring various ways of DNA amplification, we have gained many insights in this area from their team. Through this collaboration, we discovered the potential of forming a partnership with them. For more information, please see Partnership. We hope that with the fairly new High School Track offered by the iGEM committee, we will be able to promote high schools as such in taking part in the iGEM competition despite it being a stretch in the academic field.
Showing iGEM Mingdao how to conduct experiments using micropipettes
Showing iGEM Mingdao how the gel reader works