Our iGEM team was inspired for our project by the work in the Styczynski Lab at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Professor Styczynski and his graduate students, Monica McNerney and Daniel Watstein are currently working on engineering a zinc biosensor. (Watstein, McNerney and Styczynski 2015) Their use of the violacein and carotenoid pathway as a biosensor for zinc micronutrient deficiencies led us to investigate other visual detection sensors. Chromoproteins from the Uppsala 2013 collection seemed to be a natural place to start. The Endy Lab and Edinburgh's 2014 projects into "degrons" or degradation tags were also inspirations for our project.
In addition, Dr. Styczynski and Monica McNerney have been mentors and advisors to us. They have met with us multiple times to revise our project and troubleshoot issues both in person and by Skype calls. Dr. Styczynski has also generously provided materials that a high school lab does not have access to, and has periodically allowed us use of his lab for training and use of specialized equipment. We could not have completed our project without this collaboration!
Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
In order to further understand the impact of our project, we discussed micronutrient deficiencies with Dr. Ralph Whitehead, a researcher from the CDC. During the interview we asked questions about micronutrient
deficiencies in multiple regions around the globe. The insightful answers gave us a better understanding of the micronutrient problems that affect different areas. Micronutrient deficiencies are often unspecified through different regions because micronutrient amounts available in the soil can vary between agricultural fields within the same village. He shared the specific process of blood analysis for micronutrient amounts. He also named other organizations that are working on the development of a household indicator for blood analysis. The process from blood sampling to results and actions to resolve the deficiencies can take weeks and has enormous resource costs. The blood samples must stay refrigerated and travel long distances to clinics or labs. The results of the tests then needs to be delivered back to the patient and caretakers. Dr. Whitehead also touched on the CDC’s specific process for blood analysis in targeted areas and was interested in micronutrient biosensors as a promising solution to an ever growing problem.
New England Biolabs Representative : Chris Cook
In the spring, a representative from New England Biolabs, Chris Cook, came to our school to discuss restriction enzymes and other products that we use in our lab. The presentation was helpful not only on the scientific side, but also because he discussed career opportunities beyond a research lab.
Alverno California and CAPS_Kansas
Our team collaborated with Alverno Heights Academy, a fellow high school iGEM team in California, and the CAPS Kansas iGEM Team. We set up a video call with them and discussed our project as well as helped them with understanding the iGEM Jamboree, and emailed multiple times back and forth, answering questions about the process of competing in iGEM and various requirements for Jamboree.
Georgia State University
We collaborated with the Georgia State iGEM team in order to host our booth at the Maker Faire Atlanta. Members of GSU iGEM volunteered at the event and discussed their project with us during the breaks. They also generously donated materials we needed for our activities and were greatly helpful. We could not have hosted our booth without them!
Lambert High School: Engineering and MSA
In order to make our lightbox device, we collaborated with the engineering department at our school. A member of that department, David Park, helped adjust our existing blueprints and allowed us to use his 3-D printer. In addition, David also helped troubleshoot when we had problems assembling the lightbox and gave us ideas to improve future versions of it. We also collaborated with MSA, Lambert's very own Medical Science Academy, who helped us with events and volunteered for set-up and clean-up for our outreach.
iGEM Twitter Group
Thanks to Twitter, iGEM teams from all over the world are in a group chat where we can easily communicate and ask questions about iGEM, Jamboree, wiki, and much more! iGEM teams have easy access to other teams and can ask questions about their projects, send out surveys, or promote their apps/programs through this platform. A great and fun way to collaborate!