We sincerely believe that the best way to communicate our project worldwide is to make our promotion video understandable by everyone. The first step towards this direction was to translate it into many different languages. Several iGEM teams (IGEM IISERTVM, 2021 iGEM Qdai, iGEM FCB-UANL) offered to help us with that. Today, we are pleased to announce that "Project PGasus" is now available in Hindi and Malayalam, Spanish and Japanese.
While discussing with iGEM FCB-UANL about the importance of spreading our projects as much as possible, they also suggested translating their project into Greek. Through translating their project, we learned about that, and we made it accessible in the Greek community.
There are many different ways to show your support and create an inclusive environment for science and kids. An effective method of teaching is reading books and comics. The Comic "Mr Takis and Mr Smiley" (attached), created by iGEM Patras 2021, is a story of two dear friends who are experiencing uncomfortable situations due to a disease afflicts Mr. Takis and an incorrect adjustment of drug dosage. As an iGEM team based in Greece, some of our activities were prepared in the Greek language, especially the Comic, as it was targeted for younger kids between the age of 5 to 12 years old, who do not speak any other language apart from their mother tongue. Although, we have collaborated with other teams for translating our comic in other languages and helping kids from all over the world meet the world of biology. iGEM Vienna, iGEM Düsseldorf, Msp-igem (MSP), TAS iGEM, iGEM NCKU Tainan, iGEM UParis translated our comic in German, French, Austrian, and Chinese, gave the opportunity for most of the children to have access to our comic.
It's official! An event organized the previous year for the first time by iGEM Patras continues organizing in 2021. We are so thrilled that our team made this dream come true.
"Mare Nostrum Meetup" or the "Meetup of our Sea" as it is translated from Latin to English is referred to as the online event we held in October for all iGEM teams based on countries around the Mediterranean sea.
To spread the world of synthetic biology and its application to the public, we invited Professors, Postdoctoral Researchers, and Ph.D. candidates who informed us about Synthetic Biology, Genetics (Epigenetics, Pharmacogenomics), and Computer Science (Next Generation Sequencing-NGS). iGEM Alumni, Ambassadors, and Committee members, such as VRT Committee members and Judges, were also invited to our Meetup and shared their experiences with all the participants.
We also achieved another goal; we made our Meetup as fun as possible. Science quizzes, games such as the game of "2 truths, 1 lie" and the challenge of creating an iGEM Meme were the only things we needed. were the only things we needed. Through these workshops, all participating teams learned more about synthetic biology, each country's culture, and the potential problems they may face as iGEMers.
Finally, all teams presented their projects and their teams. The "Mare Nostrum iGEM Meetup" outcome was amazing since we achieved another great goal; show everyone that science can unite nations!
iGEM competition allows you to meet people from all around the world. It is important to take advantage of this chance and participate in many different meetups. So, we couldn't miss the French Meetup" on the 11th of September that French teams organized. What else would be more amazing than to get in touch with other iGEM teams, while learning about their exciting projects was crucial for broadening our knowledge about synthetic biology applications. The highlight was the workshops and the games that the Meet Up includes, which gave us the chance to interact and communicate!
If we can highlight an event that all Greek iGEM Teams expect every summer, this is undoubtedly the Greek Meet up. This year iGEM Athens, iGEM Crete, iGEM NOUS, iGEM Thrace and iGEM Thessaloniki undertook the difficult task of organizing this event. Even though the Meetup was held virtually, due to the pandemic, all Greek teams participating in the 2021 iGEM Competition managed to be there. Project presentations, Alumni presentations and interesting workshops were included and amused the participants. It was an excellent opportunity to meet each other, practice our presentation skills, discuss all the difficulties that we were facing and exchange ideas on synthetic biology.
In order to exchange information about our projects, iGEM Stuttgart 2021 organized the BaWü Meetup on the 16th of October, and we had the honor to participate in it. We have already participated in other Meetups, but this one was different because we were participating only for presenting our projects and sharing the same goals and interests. It was a unique experience to share iGEM stories associated with laboratories in the COVID-19 era while realizing that everyone faced the same difficulties in the Wet Lab part.
Food & Chill
What's a better way to conduct your experiments than to hear a song during them? And this is exactly what Reconby-iGEM-Unizar must have thought when inviting us to participate in this collaboration. Music helps carry out our daily activities, even our iGEM lab work. The purpose was to make a list in Spotify with songs from all around the world and get to know other local artists. The goal was achieved and the list in Spotify was ready to be a part of everyone’s lab work! From our side, we sent them a Greek and an English song that we heard a lot in our laboratory.
iGEM UM_Macau aims to reduce the high purine of beer, while maintaining the taste and aroma of the beer. This lower purine content beer can become a healthier alternative for drinkers, especially those sensitive to the purine content. But can we drink beer without snacks? iGEM UM_Macau knew the response and organized a collaboration that aimed to create a photo album, collecting the pictures of different dishes served with beer in different areas. The result was fantastic and our team will create some beer nights to taste some of the proposed dishes! iGEM competition encourages and allows you to cooperate with people from all around the world not only for science but also for social and daily issues.
iGEM Team Vienna organized a very tasty collaboration to create a diverse cookbook for people affected by FODMAP sensibility, which is connected to diseases like irritable bowel syndrome and non-celiac gluten sensitivity (which are the diseases they want to target with their project this year). Therefore, they ask us to find a low or no FODMAP recipe from our country to add it to their recipe book. Low or no Fodmap recipes contain many legumes such as tomato, potatoes, zucchinis , fruits such as mandarin, orange, lemon, and other ingredients such as eggs, corn flakes, and oats produced in our country, Greece. So, we did not have any reason to not participate in such a fantastic idea and proposed a tasty greek dish for people affected by FODMAP sensibility. In the end, iGEM Team Vienna created a recipe book, which can be useful for these people.
Bringing science and society together was one of our crucial goals. The SynBio Academy is a podcast series from the iGEM Patras team! In these sessions we discussed the global synthetic biology iGEM Competition, the participating scientific projects, its social perspectives and experiences arising from it. The popularity of Podcasts has been magnified in the last couple of years. Well-conceived podcasts are an effective, portable, convenient, and intimate way to deliver and produce content and build ongoing relationships with your audience. Our guests, except for experts in synthetic biology, were also iGEM Alumni and iGEM teams. To be more specific, iGEM Thessaly team and iGEM Thessaloniki team accepted our invitation and together we recorded two fantastic episodes in which we analyzed iGEM Competition, their project and our concerns about iGEM Competition. It was a beautiful experience that allowed us to get to know each other better and show to the audience what iGEM is and how important it is to cooperate in iGEM Competition.
Educating people about Sustainable Development Goals is a crucial goal of every iGEM team. In 2015, the United Nations presented 17 Global Goals (also known as the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs). These goals aim to improve the world we live in by 2030 in 17 different ways – from ending poverty, taking action on climate change, reaching gender equality, ensuring clean water and sanitation for all, and more. Leaders and communities across the globe agreed to support these goals to achieve them by 2030 collectively. iGEM teams can also help by achieving these goals through their projects! In order to make it happen, we wanted to create an informative video in which as many iGEM teams as possible share their project and the sustainable development goals they aim to achieve through them, to show what amazing things can be achieved by synthetic biology. In the "SDGs" video, every team explained their project, especially the problem they struggle to solve through synthetic biology and what goals they want to achieve by developing this iGEM project. After that, we made a compilation of all these amazing ideas. Such an innovative idea to spread Sustainable Development Goals and its importance!
In order to educate people about synthetic biology and how it can be applied to real-life, we got in touch with the Experimental School of University of Patras, the Experimental School of University of Macedonia and Tutorial school for secondary education “Κytaro”. We organized with iGEM Thessaloniki to collaborate and set up some interactive activities altogether about synthetic biology. Teaching students about synthetic biology and its applications was an unprecedented experience. We seized the opportunity to share our projects, proving that there is no need to be a researcher in professional labs to apply synthetic biology and its diagnostic tools in real life. Thus, we encouraged students to brainstorm independently and think of problems they would like to solve using synthetic biology. The results surprised both teams! It is a unique experience to organize such events with other iGEM Teams, despite the differences in our projects, and show people how essential collaboration is in general!
Through our partnership with the iGEM team of Thessaloniki we faced different problems when we were trying to familiarize ourselves with iGEM competition and its requirements. We discussed a lot with iGEM Alumni, we attended different webinars by iGEM headquarters and now after 8-9 months in iGEM Competition, we believe that we know how to handle it. What is better by spreading the knowledge you have obtained in order to help other people and iGEM teams! We instantly organized a webinar together in which we analyzed useful tips for fundraising and graphic designing. It was a unique experience to get in contact with people interested or involved in iGEM Competition all around the world to share ideas about different technical issues.
How possible is it that 4 iGEM teams had the same collaboration idea? It is unexpected but real in the iGEM 2021 competition, where Team Patras, team ULaval, team Concordia-Montreal and team Thessaloniki want to collaborate on Women in STEM. Trying to include more and more people in Synthetic Biology, we found out that women are still a minority in academia. For example, in Western Europe, 21.7% of heads of higher education institutions were female in 2017. Women of color in the United States are especially underrepresented in academia, and are more likely to hold lower-ranking positions.This eminent exclusivity limits the number of people working on advancing knowledge, thereby missing out on a wide range of perspectives, experiences and backgrounds, resulting in lags in the advancements of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
So, what are we waiting for? iGEM could give us the perfect opportunity to celebrate what women are doing in synthetic biology worldwide and help us encourage other aspiring scientists to pursue their dream career. Thus we organized the Rosalind Chronicles project, a Bulletin Board to honor the contribution of Women in STEM on a larger scale! We ask other iGEM teams to send us a photo of a scientist and a photo of your team’s women teammates. All of these researchers will be displayed in a timeline allowing teams to feel inspired and develop an appreciation for what women can do and are doing in STEM, to get to know what research is done in other countries , find new research opportunities and develop their scientific curiosity.
This collaboration concluded by presenting to the public successful women in biology and how many women participated in iGEM Competition. It is important to say that this collaboration ended up by a webinar about women in STEM. This webinar emphasized the role of women in science and especially presentations about women who have not distinguished themselves for their achievements in Greece and worldwide. Also the Rozalind Chronicles timeline was presented and what diversity and inclusion is, were described. This activity aims to inspire and broaden women's horizons for their many abilities and how many things they can do no matter what gender they are.
As we were conducting our project, we came across the issue of the underrepresentation of synthetic biology’s applications. We found that there is a lack of representation for people with disabilities, kids, women in science and technology, and lack of opportunities for them. As we researched this problem, we found that there are many different ways in which we can show our support, and create an inclusive environment for community with simple things such as our language and how we share our message. What's a better way to enhance our trial by attending the Workshop “Innovative Approach to Inclusion and Diversity” organized by iGEM NU KAZAKHSTAN. It was a fantastic workshop that gave us valuable knowledge that will help us understand essential inclusion concepts to create color-blind friendly materials and audio descriptions in our wiki pages. We will enrich our knowledge on creating an inclusive project and contributing to eliminating the discriminations.
Our team is not only interested in the field of synthetic biology that is attached to our project but also in other techniques and experiments. Our wet lab team was amused for the iGEM Global CRISPR Conference (iGCC), which could allow them to learn more about CRISPR/Cas techniques. This was a mega-collaboration event and they were inviting iGEM 2021 teams from all around the world. Teams using CRISPR/Cas techniques principles in their iGEM projects and solving local problems presented their project and interacting with fellow iGEMers at iGCC. Other teams in the audience attend the presentation and get knowledge about these techniques. The highlight of the event was when participants networked and shared ideas about CRISPR related projects. Its purpose would be to continue sharing resources, provide inputs, help troubleshooting and contribute to the present and future iGEM community as a whole.
What’s a better way to fulfill your project than to make it understandable for primary students too! Team iGEM Aachen and team iGEM TU Eindhoven combined their knowledge to develop a lesson plan for primary schools. This plan aims to introduce children to some basic concepts within the field of chemistry and synthetic biology. This is done by letting them explore chemical phenomena interactive and fun by conducting five small experiments. But, they would like to expand it with more experiments from more teams! So, they ask us to participate in their project and write a short explanation of our experiment so that the teacher can easily follow it and explain it to his pupils. A book with all the needed protocols was created and the teacher was ready to use it in order to familiarize students with biology and broaden their horizons!