One of the growing (sub)fields of science is science communication. It is key to effectively communicate intricate researches to the general public. Not only when applying for grants, but also to inform the public on ground breaking findings. Good communication is especially important in the field of synthetic biology, because the idea of altering DNA sounds scary to a lot of people. To better communicate CryptoGErM, we tried to make our project accessible by using animations, as you can find in our tour. But also by approaching newspapers, radio- and television stations and giving talks at open-access science events.
Night of Arts and Sciences
Every year, the heart of the city of Groningen transforms into a festival celebrating knowledge, creativity and fun. We were invited to help out at the Aa-church. We got to introduce people to a fungus-operated massage chair. The goal was to let people experience that bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms are not as scary as they are sometimes portrayed to be. It did not take long until word spread about the free massage, and soon people were lining up! This gave us a chance to talk to people about our own project and answer any questions they had!
Netherlands Biotechnology Conference
In April we had the chance to present the first outline of our project at the Netherlands Biotechnology Conference in Wageningen. Enthusiastically, we designed our first poster, t-shirt and business cards. We met some members of current iGEM teams and even had the chance to listen to the presentation of the Delft 2015 team who won last year’s Grand Prize. During this day we made a lot of contacts, tried to find sponsors and got valuable feedback about our ideas. This feedback influenced our project immensely.
Utrecht Campus Party
At the end of May we have been invited to give a presentation about CryptoGErM during the 4th edition of the European Campus Party. We had the chance to explain our idea to people with very different backgrounds and ages which at the end enthusiastically participated in different workshops given by Luis, Marco and Matthia.
By doing so we have been able to collect lots of feedback from different research domains that helped the growing of the project. Moreover, we also had the opportunity to listen to several other interesting talks that helped us to improve our presentation skills.
Jan van de Meide invited us to their radio studio to talk about our project. Kathinka and Bente went to the studio for their first live-radio performance. The radio show is aimed at a very general public, so we got the challenging task of explaining the project in an understandable manner. A major hurdle here was that we could not use visual support, so we tried to make sure to be as clear as possible. You can hear the result here (in Dutch).
Auction and BBQ
In September we organized an auction to raise money for our project. After giving a presentation of the project itself, the auction started. Every iGEM team member offered some service: lab worker for a day, cake baking, babysitting, lawn mowing, a tour through our lab etc. Researchers of the University of Groningen and friends of our iGEM team members were very eagerly bidding for the offers and thereby helping our project. It was huge success and a lot of fun.
After the auction we had a BBQ together. A local butcher sponsored the meat for it (Thanks to De Groene Weg Slagerij Groningen!). The income of the BBQ also partially funded our project. The evening ended with an exciting tip-stacking competition which peaked in a final between a 2016 iGEMer and an ex-iGEMer.
The university of Groningen publishes its own newspaper, the university paper or UK for short. In order to spread awareness regarding our project and synthetic biology, we approached them to write a piece about us. They were very enthusiastic and curious about our project. To learn more Simone came over to our office to discuss the details of CryptoGErM. She even visited our auction to get a better feeling for the team and witness our presentation. The article can be read here.
Lifeline is a monthly magazine published by study association Idun. This association has members from both the studies Biology and Life Science & Technology. Because of their readers’ background, they were very interested in our project. The magazine is send to Iduns 1700 members and is always very well received. The article in Lifeline will be published at the end of November.
Unifocus is a video magazine that publishes interesting and educational videos concerning the university and its students. We were really excited to have a professional video made. At first we were a little giddy, but soon we got used to the spotlight and continued our work while the interview took place. The video can be viewed on their website, or right here:
On September 15th we were excitedly waiting in front of the iGEM office phone to be interviewed by a New Scientist reporter. The New Scientist is a UK-based weekly English-language international science magazine. Despite minor problems with the phone we are part of this article.
Our project did not go unnoticed by the Dutch national news agency! After the university posted our unifocus video, we sparked the interest of NOS op 3, the department that makes videos and takes care of social media. To get a better understanding of our project, we gave a few telephone interviews. This resulted in a really nice piece and animation, to explain our project to the general public. The article is available here (in Dutch).
Thanks to the team of Eindhoven, we got the opportunity to advertise our project in the magazine of the Netherlands Institute of Biology. Together with all the Dutch teams we filled one page. Every team explained themselves in one sentence and included a team logo and contact information. (Translation title picture: The Netherlands is fully represented in Boston at the global iGEM competition.)
The Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute (GBB)
We were invited by Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute (GBB) to present our project at their 24th Annual Symposium. The Symposium was held at the
Besides communicating our project to the general and scientific community, we wanted to do something to bring the iGEM teams together. To let people explore the CryptoGErM system, we developed a game to play during the jamboree. The game explanation can be found here. The idea is for the contestants to find our poster and to interact with our team members.
Interviews with Dagblad van het Noorden & OogTV
On Monday October 17th we had an interview with Dagblad van het Noorden (Local newspaper). In addition, we will still get an interview on Friday 21th of October with of OogTV, the local TV channel of Groningen. Both the article and the TV interview are yet to be published.