Partnership with UiOslo_Norway
When discussing which gold criteria we wanted to focus our resources on, Partnership was one that we all agreed on. By working as a team for some while, we had already learnt the value of collaboration, and how a group of people with aligned goals can achieve a higher success rate than any individual. As a result, we wanted to find a team with a set of shared objectives to help take our project to the next level. After some research we came across the Norwegian team from the University of Oslo (UiO).
We had continuous contact with the UiO team throughout the spring, summer and fall of 2021, regarding several small collaborations. Because of the pandemic, our interaction was strictly over Zoom, Facebook and other social media platforms. Through these media channels we shared our experience with iGEM, giving each other tips, tricks and feedback on different parts and aspects of our projects.
In the spring of 2021, we got to know each other by organizing a “get-to-know each other” zoom meeting. As the UiO team also is situated in Norway, we discussed the possibility of arranging a physical meetup, but due to the coronavirus still beeing present in Norway, we decided that the meetings were best suited over Zoom.
During one of our first constructive meetings we oriented each other about the different aspects of our projects and gave each other feedback on how to best proceed. We specifically focused our discussion on biosensors, as both our teams were planning to develop a biosensor for detection of a substance. In addition, we gave the UiO team some tips and tricks with applying for sponsorships as we had a template for such applications.
During the summer we had one of the most insightful meetings with the UiO team regarding our Wiki pages. We exchanged valuable tips about how the MediaWiki setup works and how one can make web frameworks function with the Wiki page. In particular, we provided insights on which web frameworks were supported in the current MediaWiki version that’s used in this year's competition. We also presented a workflow template for maintaining and working on the wiki that fits with the limitations that the MediaWiki imposes on the traditional web-development workflow. In addition, we notified them of their Vue.js based website limitations as it didn’t link directly to the deliverable URLs that the competition requires. The UiO team helped us with successfully allowing our .css styles to be imported via overriding the sitewide scripts via the “ !important “ tag in our code. This meeting was valuable, as both teams got quicker and more painlessly into the coding process of the wiki and the display of the website.
In the fall of 2021 we arranged a Zoom-meeting with both teams supervisors to decide how to pursue our partnership moving forward. We decided that we wanted to continue pursuing the feedback centered collaboration we had started earlier in the year. Both teams agreed that having a “support team” was highly beneficial, as we continuously helped each other improve, expand and better the different parts of our projects. As an example we gave the UiO team feedback on a poster they used in an educational context. We had previously created a similar poster and gave some examples of how to make the poster more reader-friendly and interesting with colours and illustrations. Some weeks later the UiO team gave us feedback on our project abstract and title. The suggestions from UiO helped us make our abstract more understandable for others by using less complicated words. As a result, the information gleaned from these diverse collaborations were very insightful and helpful for making improvements. In addition we discussed different ideas for the promotion video, although we ended up pursuing different approaches.
The 5th of October we participated in the UiO’s PFAS awareness panel to contribute to their education program. The program was highly educational, and we wanted to support UiO by participating! We also shared information about the awareness panel through our instagram account, so that the information would reach more iGEM teams.
On the 11th of October we participated in a Zoom-conference with participants from the University of Bergen as part of UiO’s education program about iGEM and synthetic biology. UiO held a presentation detailing iGEM and their PFAS project, and we held a presentation about our project and how iGEM is organized differently at NTNU compared to at the University of Oslo. The main goal of the conference was to spark an interest for iGEM at the University of Bergen, as they currently have no teams participating. After the presentations we had a short discussion regarding iGEM in general, how to generate an iGEM team, how to get funding etc. The conference was very interesting to attend, and we agreed to stay in touch with the University of Bergen regarding the possibility of starting an iGEM team there.
In addition, we are also planning to present our presentations to each other for practice and to give each other feedback before the judging session.
All in all, our collaboration with UiO did not center around one big and comprehensive collaboration, but rather several small but equally important collaborations. The UiO team gave us valuable feedback on several aspects of our project, helping us make improvements we otherwise would not have made. In return we hope to have done the same for the UiO team. In addition, to participate in the iGEM competition for the first time can be quite intimidating and overwhelming, especially during a pandemic. Being able to share both our insecurities and our victories with another team has given us motivation and comfort, and has taken our iGEM experience to the next level.