Team:Ionis Paris/IntegratedHP

iGEM: beyond the bench

Meetings, Jamborees & Festivals

When contacting professionals in the sponsoring phase or talked around us about our project, we went across different reactions when we had to explain how we wanted to make a drone fly bacteria that would detect pollution. What we mostly observed was the incomprehension of how we could make bacteria react to pollution. We took this observation as the opportunity to use the means at our disposal to implement integrated human practices to our project through different side projects mainly based on the presentation and interaction with the scientific community but also with the average person that would not have any specific skills in biology. We thus tried to develop several events in which we could explain how our project works, and thus popularise synthetic biology and its mechanics and how its spreading to other areas can benefit technology innovation and breakthrough, and transform our way of thinking on the long term.

We firstly organised an iGEM week on one of the campus of the team in order to partially fund our project by selling meals and crêpes, but we also used this opportunity to interact with on-campus students that were really curious about our project. We organised small conferences in which we would present the iGEM competition and explain more in details our project Quantifly, and it allowed us to spread the interest for pollution prevention, and sensibilize students to the iGEM competition.

In addition to this iGEM week, we went to the Unniversité Pierre & Marie Curie (UPMC) do a presentation to undergraduate students about iGEM and our project, in collaboration with the UPMC iGEM team. This presentation was the occasion to do a team collaboration within our project as well as having the opportunity to popularise iGEM to new science students.

We also organised one of the most successful event of the year with the realisation of the European Experience with the help of another iGEM Evry team. This event was a European jamboree for all the European teams and we were proud to organise it from scratch to its completion as one of our most successful side poroject. We focused on the exchange between all the attendants, being with a full morning of presentations for each team on their stand to other curious iGEMers or with conferences about synthetic biology and its stakes with the exceptional participation of the iGEM funder Mr. Rettberg.

Of course, we did not stop to this quite exceptional event, and we participated to a French conference in the biology field called the “festival vivant” which gathers professionals of the biology field and who are presenting and talking about the potential of bioeconomics, the place of new genetic techniques in ecosystems studies, or the question of the ethical use of biodesign. This event allowed us to meet a large range of people who were visiting the event and we could play a role in the popularization of the iGEM competition and synthetic biology to the public by setting up and holding an exhibition stand about Quantifly. We had the opportunity to meet non-professional people as well as people that were scientists but were not related to the synthetic biology field and we could use this

occasion to explain all the scientific details as rigorously as possible in order to have them understand a project that was at first not accessible to them because of the lack of knowledge in a particular area of work. This was the occasion to render a proper information about the Quantifly project in the objective of transmit precise scientific knowledge to any person in order to make them able to understand this project.

As well as exhibition events and students presentations and talks, we thought another way to synthesize and transmit the concept of our project to the largest number of people, which is the creation of a mobile game application. This project was held by our informatics team, and their objective was to create a fun game where the concept of detecting and mapping air pollution would be accessible to anybody playing the game. This idea of keeping the game as close as possible to the reality of our project was what seemed the best, even though there was a challenge on how we could transmit scientific information to a public that can range to children to aged people, with no or few basics in science. The project was still successfully designed in a way that a person with no skills in biology could easily understand what we are doing and how we are doing it. The game is available on the Applestore and the Playstore as we created a multiplatform application in order to reach the largest target population.