Team:IISER Kolkata/Communication

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Communication is an integral part of science and its branches. Talking to people, spreading awareness, sharing knowledge is what science truly is. Team iGEM IISER Kolkata focussed a lot on communicating with their stakeholders. Be it primary school kids or high school students, be it local dairy farmers or veterinary doctors, be it scientists or the demand of people around us; our team has gone to discuss, learn and develop our project by taking inputs from the grass-root level of our community. We have organised workshops, webinars and distributed storybooks to interact with the young minds of the society. At the end of the day, they are the upcoming generation who has to carry our lead forward.

  • Local Farmers:

    We interviewed a number of farmers in Asansol, a city in West Bengal and asked about the problems they are facing when it comes to bovine mastitis. Most of them were unaware of the harmful effects of the overuse of antibiotics and the need to reach out to certified doctors. We tried to share our views on appropriate milking practices and maintaining proper hygiene. We also communicated the harmful effects of overuse of antibiotics and took their views on an antibiotic free approach towards curing this disease. The meeting was conducted in-person on a one-on-one basis to follow COVID-19 guidelines issued by the Government of West Bengal. Although due to COVID guidelines of West Bengal, no workshop in groups could be conducted. But realising the extreme importance of spreading awareness regarding mastitis and AMR, our team was ready to fight the odds in spite of the hurdles. We went on to spread awareness on a one-on-one basis, near Kalyani and Asansol regions of West Bengal.

    Our team member Sourin Chatterjee along with the small scale dairy farmers he interviewed
  • Scientists and veterinary doctors:

    Our team interviewed a number of scientists and veterinary doctors and took their valuable inputs to develop our project. We communicated the importance of an antibiotic free approach based on synthetic biology to them. We discussed the various aspects of our project and mentioned our concerns on the rising implications of AMR. In this aspect, we went on to express our concerns on the overuse of antibiotics in the animal husbandry industry and also took their opinions on a new approach to tackle the cases of subclinical bovine mastitis. As we all believe, communication is a two-way process. The scientists and veterinary doctors we contacted, provided several important inputs which enabled us to work efficiently and effectively. Most of them were already aware of the harmful effects of the overuse of antibiotics and upon discussing our project idea with them, they were already looking forward to an antibiotic-free approach towards the early detection and cure of bovine mastitis. The details of the interviews have been mentioned in the Integrated Human Practices section.

  • Genscript:

    Genscript, a leading global biotech company, took an interview of our iGEM team in which we discussed about our project; how the idea of working on bovine mastitis came to our attention, the then proposed idea of detection and treatment, and the importance of an antibiotic-free approach in the future. The meeting with Genscript is targeted to an audience from scientific background and hence discusses advanced scientific methods.

    You can find our interview with GenScript USA Inc. here

  • Next Gen Scientists Foundation (NGSF):

    Our team conversed with NGSF discussing the growing aspects of synthetic biology and the importance of an appropriate approach to harness the potential of synthetic biology towards the growth and welfare of humanity. We also discussed the implications and challenges we might face while working on the project in the near future. The importance of biosafety and biosecurity was also taken into consideration to understand the immensity of synthetic biology. The interview was documented as a conversation to spread awareness about the importance and need of synthetic biology, and can be found from the link provided below: Link

  • Antibiotic Stewardship and Prevention of Infection in Communities (ASPIC)

    A podcast series with ASPIC club of Yuvaraja's college, Mysuru was done to generate awareness about the harmful effects of the overuse of antibiotics and the rising problem of AMR. Since they were already involved in issues of antibiotic abuse and antibiotic resistance and creating awareness on the same, we thought it would help us communicate our message to the world better [1]. We also discussed the basics of the project we are currently working on. The very reason on why farmers resort to broad-spectrum antibiotics was also addressed and the way to tackle the same was also taken into account during the time of the podcast. We also had an informative discussion on the utilization of synthetic biology to fight antibiotic resistance.
    The link to our podcasts can be found here:




Gene Gala: 5 Day Mini Summer School on Synthetic Biology

In order to spread the message and create awareness about synthetic biology, our team along with iGEM Team of IISER Tirupati decided to target young minds. By discussing ideas, organising presentations and some fun-filled activities, we planned to organise a 5-day Mini Summer School by hosting 90+ girl students from different schools run by the Directorate of Education, GNCT Delhi. It was a great pleasure to interact with the fresh minds and discuss the potential strategies to find a solution for the prevailing problems. Each day the workshop started off with a presentation in which we discussed the basics of molecular biology, synthetic biology, genetic engineering, etc. We engaged in a proper interactive session in which the students as well as their teachers expressed their views, doubts and concerns with us about which we shall discuss in detail in some time. It was a two-way learning process as we too got to learn a lot from this workshop. Moreover, it was a beautiful journey which unfortunately had to come to an end on the 5th day. Despite all the disadvantages owing to the pandemic, it would be an understatement to say the workshop was merely a set of interactions. It was a profound experience for us to understand and connect to students coming from diverse backgrounds. After the presentation, the students were divided into small groups and then moved on to different breakout sessions. Each breakout room consisted of two guides (one from IISER Kolkata and the other from IISER Tirupati) for enquiring any possible doubts of the students. Each day after the discussion session, we also organised some activities for the students based on elements of biology. We have included the brochure that we communicated for the event which can be found in the Education page along with complete lecture slides. We also obtained valuable feedback from the students and teachers which are documented in our Education webpage.

Why Gene Gala?

  1. Promoting Women in STEM
    We aimed to inspire more and more female students who are currently in their high school levels to take up different fields of science, technology, engineering and education (STEM). As a result, along with the help of the Directorate of Education, GNCT Delhi, we organised this event to have 90+ students on board and have a fruitful discussion on not just molecular biology basics but also having an exchange of ideas on their future areas of interest. Upon discussing with them, we came up with several new fields they looked forward to as their career choices and we were told that many of them were already interested in taking up science and maths as their future prospects. We encouraged them to pursue their areas of interest and break the vivid barriers based on gender along the way. We also aimed at improving STEM education as well as making them easily accessible for their future references, rendering confidence and supporting them at their early stage itself.
  2. Interactive Discussion Forums:
    At the end of every presentation, we divided our students into different breakout rooms headed by an iGEM IISER Kolkata team member and an iGEM IISER Tirupati team member, where we continued with a discussion session and took note of their doubts and concerns on a one-on-one basis. We provided real life approaches to clear their doubts for their better understanding and clearing their concepts. This was done so that they could connect themselves to the question and understand better. We focused and encouraged them to keep asking questions and also made them understand the importance of understanding the questions first. Asking the right questions should be an integral part of the knowledge gaining process from the very beginning and we tried to incorporate the same into them.
  3. Fun-filled activities:
    Each day the activities were designed in a way that the students took their time to think and come to a solution on the next day and discussed the answers with us. On the very first day, we taught them to decode a phone number or a given sequence of numbers into a sequence of nucleotides or a chain of amino acids. For the same, we showed them a stepwise process for base conversion of numbers and some of the students were very enthusiastic about it. We also made sure the foundation for these conversions was understood by each and every student present in their respective breakout rooms so that in the near future, they are able to pass on this knowledge to others when and where required. Later, we went on to send them an assignment related to the same. On the second day, we conducted a quiz related to the topics we covered on that particular day and discussed the answers of the same. We also went on to discuss the answers of the previous day’s assignment and were highly encouraged and enthused to look at their excitement and participation while answering. On our third day’s activity we discussed along with the students about building a syn-bio lego in which we taught them to build a plasmid by placing the corresponding part to the respective hint provided. The fourth day activity included a quiz session followed by a discussion session with the students. At the end of fourth day, we asked the students to come up with a new idea on how they could solve an already existing problem around us with the help of syn-bio and/or genetic engineering. Discussion on 5th day was the most enjoyable part of this whole session as the students got to present their own ideas.
  4. The Fifth Day:
    On the final day (well, our personal favourite), we went on to discuss some really fascinating and great ideas the students came up with (as mentioned above). We discussed the strengths and weaknesses of their ideas, and encouraged them to continue thinking about a prospective solution such that it drives them towards their goal, and they stay inspired so that in the near future, we might have a bunch of young minds working on an approach to make this world a better place to live in. We also made them aware of the ethical concerns and issues related to syn-bio. We emphasized on creating a sound and safe platform for promoting the discussion on syn-bio with high-school students.
  5. Distributing Handbooks:

    Handbooks were distributed to give them a written overview of a day's content to help them engage with us better and also provide them an opportunity to think about science and ideas discussed during the workshop, on their own. We made sure to provide a handbook to the students every day. The handbook primarily contained an overview of that day’s presentation and activities. It can also be used as a future reference by the students and the necessary information and awareness could be deliberately passed on to others whenever required.

    Gene Gala was undoubtedly a beautiful expedition. For most of us it was the first time being a “teacher” and we were very happy that in return we even got to learn a lot out of it. The day-wise details of the handbooks and the valuable feedback from students as well as their teachers are mentioned in the Education section.

A certificate of participation was provided to every student who attended our workshop to encourage their efforts and hardwork. It was signed by the primary PIs of both the teams. A sample of the certificate is attached below:

The Directorate of Education, GNCT Delhi acknowledged both the teams’ sincere participation in their programme “STEM Power for DoE Girls”. We are glad to receive a letter of appreciation discerning the efforts put forward by both the teams. The following has been attached below:

Thanks to everyone who had been a part of this journey.


Team iGEM IISER Kolkata organized an open-for-all event to create awareness among the rising generation about the importance, applicability, and ethical issues related to synthetic biology. We proposed our idea to three regional schools from Asansol, Kolkata, India and the authorities were highly enthusiastic about the idea. They agreed on an online seminar with us along with their students as well as teachers. Around 43 high school students attended the 3-hour webinar with frequent breaks in between. We started off the presentation with slides based on molecular biology, synthetic biology, genetic engineering, etc. A proper discussion-based interaction helped us know the views of the students on the real-world problems and their approach towards introducing a possible solution using synthetic biology and genetic engineering. The entire presentation was introduced in a regional language (i.e. Bengali) for the proper documentation and implementation of the delivered content. In order to keep the session fun and interactive, we ended it with an activity and we were very grateful for the feedback we received.

  1. Including regional language:
    India is a diverse country with linguistic and cultural assortment. Most of the public schools prefer to teach and communicate in their regional languages. So, our team members who were fluent in Bengali went on to present a 3-hour seminar to the students from three different schools in Asansol, Kolkata, India. This was done to make sure that all sections of students could be included in order to create awareness about synthetic biology and learn the basics of molecular biology at the same time. The students who studied in Bengali from their childhood itself must be comfortable with the same and consequently the decision was made to encourage a presentation in Bengali for proper implementation of the webinar. We made sure that in near future the students will also be able to share their views and knowledge on the same to the upcoming generation efficiently and productively.
  2. Distributing Lecture Slides:
    We sent out our lecture slides to the students so that they will be able to go through them whenever required. The lecture slides were well equipped with the basics of molecular biology and its applications. We also made sure that the students could enjoy the presentation slides and not get bored of it by putting attractive visuals and animations. The lecture slides were also distributed so that they could pass on the information whenever required and also spread awareness. After all, science should be accessible to all.
  3. Interactive doubt sessions:
    After every lecture, we held a 10-minute doubt clearing session in which the students were allowed to ask any questions based on the content of the previous presentation. We kept on encouraging interactions as this would have boosted their confidence and allowed them to clear their concepts. At the end of the day, science is all about asking the right questions.
  4. Sharing interesting activities:
    We provided them with an assignment asking them to decode a phone number or a given sequence of numbers into a sequence of nucleotides or a chain of amino acids. We showed them a stepwise process for base conversion of numbers. We also made sure the foundation for these conversions was understood by each and every student present in the webinar so that in the near future, they are able to pass on this knowledge to others when and where required. The assignment was provided to them via a google form. All the students performed really well, and it makes us glad and excited for our future expeditions.
  5. Receiving feedback:
    The aforementioned points were something we experienced, but we value our students’ feedback as well. So, we sent out a google form asking how they felt about the webinar and we were glad to receive positive feedback from them. The feedback details are exhibited in our Education page.

    To encourage their efforts and hardwork, a certificate of participation was provided to every student who attended our workshop and it was signed by our primary PI. A sample of the certificate is attached below:

Bengali Article for Vigyan Mancha

Upon discussion with the veterinary doctors and scientists, we realized the importance of creating awareness among the dairy farmers regarding bovine mastitis and antibiotic resistance in pathogens due to antibiotic overuse. We decided to communicate this important issue via publishing an article by a renowned local science organization about bovine mastitis for the local people and farmers such that the disease does not proceed to the fatal stages. We mentioned the bovine mastitis disease, how the issue of antibiotic resistance in pathogens is an alarming issue and demands immediate attention and also poses as a public health hazard to people who consume the infected milk. We also stressed the preventive measures for the disease and its transmission. This article will be published in their bimonthly issue soon in the regional language, i.e. Bengali for easy accessibility and understanding of the locals. This was done so that we could educate and encourage the local farmers to stop the overuse of antibiotics. Moreover, Paschim Banga Vigyan Mancha is the largest people science organization in India and millions of people of West Bengal are very much familiar with its name [2]. Consequently, we decided to use it as a platform to generate awareness about bovine mastitis among the locals and our respective stakeholders. These can even lead to sparks of interest and curiosity in young minds.

We, the team at iGEM IISER Kolkata believe in the inclusivity of every possible person directly or indirectly involved in the fate of bovine mastitis. Small-scale farmers whose livelihood solely depended on milk and/or cattle may not have been accustomed or exposed to English much. Hence, we chose Bengali which is a regional language for their easy and better understanding.

Children’s StoryBook

Team iGEM IISER Kolkata strongly believes in the inclusion of the fresh young minds as they will be the future leaders of this world. It is believed that children learn more from pictures than they learn from literature. We decided to draw our inspiration from a previously released episode of Tom and Jerry entitled "Jerry and the Glowing Potion". Tom and Jerry is a story loved by many children across the world and as a result, we felt that keeping the characters intact shall help our children to connect more with the storyline and understand the concepts better. The storybook was targeted for the age group of 10 years and below, and consequently, it could be used for encompassing the beauty and basics of science to children. Moreover, we have emphasized the importance of humanity and being kind to each other in every possible way. Science should be progressed in a way that helps every individual and we have shown the same through our storybook.

  • Creative and Attractive Visuals:
    Our team documented the storyline and then designed some attractive visuals for the interests of the children. Apart from using it as a mode of education, parents and/or can also use this storybook to teach moral values to their children. The visuals present in our storybook shall help the children connect more to the morals and values we have tried to inculcate in them. On the top of that, the lead roles having the visuals of Tom and Jerry shall help them connect more.
  • Using simpler terminologies:
    In the entire storybook, we have made sure that simple terminologies are used to refer to scientific terms. This was done so that children could understand the plot better. For example, Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) was introduced as Green Fluorescent Potion and the idea of genetic engineering was also introduced in a very simple way.
  • Receiving feedback:
    We circulated our storybook to schools and other children falling in the age group and received feedback from them by google form as well as an offline form. Most of the responses appreciated our efforts and we were glad that they could understand the morals and basics of science. Our storybook and a detailed view on the feedback has been provided in the Education section.
Meet-ups, Conferences And Conversations
  • All India iGEM Meet (AIIM):

    AIIM is held every year in which different iGEM teams across India meet at a platform and discuss the project they worked on, form collaborations and spread the community of synthetic biology in India. This year, it was held virtually and we presented, discussed various aspects of our project along with other Indian teams. It was a perfect example on how synthetic biology has the potential to tackle real-world problems and the idea was to communicate the same to a major section of the society. The presentation session was followed by some fun activities, quizzes, talk series, workshops etc. It was certainly an important and fun event to attend.

  • iGEM Global CRISPR Conference:

    Team iGEM IISER Kolkata in collaboration with Team iGEM IISER Berhampur participated in this conference and presented their project along with other teams working with CRISPR. It was a great experience to learn about the various aspects of the use of CRISPR and synthetic biology! Further details and slides of our presentation are provided in our Education section.

  • Cogito137:

    Our team collaborated with Cogito137, a multilingual web-based science communication platform, where our team member Shreyash Pramod Borkar presented our project for a part of Biology Week, IISER Kolkata chapter, with the Royal Society of Biology [3]. We discussed our project with them and our approach towards early detection and treatment of subclinical bovine mastitis. We also talked about the losses which the dairy industry, as well as small scale farmers, had to deal with due to this disease, the problem of AMR and how our project has planned to tackle the same. We also stated that our detection kit will be cost-effective, cheap and time-saving, and also told our audience that an antibiotic-free approach dealing is the need of the hour. As a whole, we tried to generate and spread awareness regarding SynBio, AMR, Bovine mastitis and discussed the several implications of our project. The webinar has been linked here

    Our team member Shreyash Pramod Borkar along with his presentation
    Team iGEM IISER Kolkata on a discussion with Team Cogito137
  • Team iGEM Crete:

    iGEM Crete worked on organizing this amazing collaboration with us and other iGEM teams to create a global database of biology in the Braille language. We submitted an excerpt on SynBio and Antibiotic Resistance in English and Bengali entitled “SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY: THE KRYPTONITE AGAINST SUPERBUGS!”. This was translated into Bengali Braille by Team iGEM Crete and the same can be found below as well as in their website.

    The details on the English and Bengali transcript have been showcased in the Education section.

    “SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY: THE KRYPTONITE AGAINST SUPERBUGS!” translated to Bengali Braille by Team iGEM Crete:


    Team iGEM IISER Kolkata believes in the inclusion of everyone involved in the development of science and consequently, in collaboration with Team iGEM Crete, we tried to communicate our message and spread awareness on SynBio and how it can tackle antibiotic resistance among the individuals with visual disabilities.

  • Team iGEM Guelph:

    Team iGEM Guelph took a step to document and organise excerpts of different iGEM projects by different teams participating this year. Our team decided to take part in this collaboration with the virtue of igniting the young minds to find solutions to real life problems with the help of science. We filled an interview form with the details of our project and some additional material in the form of an illustrative presentation was also sent by us exploring the various aspects of our project. The excerpts were posted on their website for public access and our responses were compiled as educational resources for Canadian high school students in the age group of 14-18 years.

  • Team iGEM CCU Taiwan

    Team iGEM IISER Kolkata took an initiative of translating the picture storybook by Team iGEM CCU Taiwan entitled “The War on Germs” to Assamese, an official language of the state of Assam, India. The idea behind was to communicate the idea of superbugs and inculcate scientific thoughts into their minds at a very young age. The translated storybook and further details have been uploaded on the Collaboration section.

Sharing Knowledge and Growing Together
  • Communicating to an old-age home:

    With growing age, there prevails a lot of cases where people tend to forget things. Our team decided to educate them and create awareness regarding the importance of taking their antibiotic doses on time and when prescribed. Our team designed a poster in English, Marathi and Bengali with illustrations highlighting what antibiotics are, how they work and the detrimental effects of missing antibiotic doses. Then we sent out these posters to be distributed among elderly population. Due to COVID restrictions, we unfortunately could not visit them as they are the most vulnerable population. However, we also made sure that our message can be communicated to them easily and effectively and the posters were made in such a manner itself. The detailed posters can be found on our Education page.

  • Orphanage visit:

    We believe in the inclusion of young minds for the progress of science and making it more accessible. It was a great experience to have an opportunity to teach the students about foldscope, i.e. an optical microscope which can be assembled from simple components like a sheet of paper and a lens. With the idea of making science more approachable to the ones who had been less fortunate of getting a proper quality of education, our team decided to communicate the idea of using a foldscope to the children of an orphanage and allowed them to view objects on their own. As much as they were excited about it, we were equally enthusiastic about communicating the idea with them. We also provided them with a short manual in Bengali for their future reference on building a foldscope. A detailed description of this visit has been shown in our Inclusivity section.

  • Blogs and Articles:

    Team iGEM IISER Kolkata, in collaboration with The Qrius Rhino, a science blog headed by the students of IISER Kolkata, posted articles on details associated with our project and creating awareness on the risk of antibiotic resistance. We also wrote about the journey of IISER Kolkata in iGEM from the very beginning and talked about interdisciplinary science as well. The aim was to circulate the idea of synthetic biology and its implications, and to raise awareness among the scientific community involved with The Qrius Rhino. All the blogs have been provided in detail in the Education section.

  • Social Media:

    We posted new sets of questions on a particular topic on our Instagram page at regular intervals to spread the information on various basic aspects in biology. After every poll related to a question, the answers were also discussed in detail. The questions and the answers were also accompanied by a voiceover. This part has been mentioned in detail at the Education section.

Science and The Art within

Well, all of us will agree that music binds us all together. Music can act as a common language for every individual across the world. At the end of the day, music will also boost the understanding of the particular topic the students shall be focusing on. Team iGEM IISER Kolkata in collaboration with Music Club of IISER Kolkata with a joint virtue of communicating the idea of synthetic biology to the general public as well as students by conducting an event entitled “Syn-chrome”. Students with physical impairments are also benefited from listening to music as it helps with concentration and influences their movement [4]. We decided on the theme of synthetic biology to generate awareness and ignite the scientific minds. The participants were allowed to explore from parodification to composing their own song. This would not only help us explore the creativity among the student community but also enable us to send a message that science could be made accessible and interesting for the masses. We also received a beautiful painting entry depicting the world of biology. Some of the wonderful entries has been exhibited below:

Demons Parodification, By Arghya Maity (Vocalist) and Shruti Santosh Sail (Lyricist):

A Beautiful Life, By Sanchari Ray:

An art by Sanchari Ray

All of us have our stories to share, our imaginations to ponder and our views to express. So, we thought of creating a space for the scientific minds to allow them to pen down their thoughts on the world of biology. Team iGEM IISER Kolkata, in collaboration with Literary Club of IISER Kolkata organised two events, “Bio-Katha” and “Ink-Life”. In Bio-Katha we asked the participants to let their imagination flow and write their own fictional story keeping the essence of science intact. In Ink-Life we asked the students to write an essay based on their own narrative and being scientifically sound at the same time. A few of the wonderful entries from the student community of IISER Kolkata has been exhibited below:

Love in the language of light, By Gaurav Verma:

The Humble Honourables, By Swarnendu Saha:


Summing it up, we have tried our best to communicate the knowledge of synthetic biology and spread awareness on the rising implications of AMR to every section of the society. We aimed to tackle the problem of bovine mastitis at the grassroots level and discussed with our stakeholders to build our project. We made attempts to make science accessible and inculcate its importance to the young minds. At the end of the day, communication plays an important role in letting science grow and prosper.

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