Rewarding Collaborations

UC Davis and UC Santa Cruz iGem teams (Photo provided by the UC Davis iGEM Team)

   We the UCSC iGEM Team were fortunate to have had the opportunity to engage in multiple rewarding collaborations with other talented, hard-working iGEM teams. Our collaboration story began at the 17th Annual UC Systemwide Bioengineering Symposium hosted by the Bioengineering Institute of California. The iGEM team at the University of California, San Diego, were kind enough to invite the UCLA iGEM team, the UC Davis iGEM team, and ourselves to meet at the Symposium in San Francisco. Each morning of the Symposium, June 13th-15th, we all met in a reserved room at the Symposium to present and discuss our projects with another. It was a valuable and much-appreciated opportunity to connect with other iGEM students, engage in exciting discussion, and form relationships with passionate, creative, and intelligent individuals. It was over the course of these few days that we first met the UC Davis iGEM team in person, who became our long-term collaborators over the course of the summer.

   Due to both the UCSC and UC Davis iGEM teams using the same organism, B. subtilis, collaboration at a more technical level was possible. Discussion with UC Davis helped our team make specific strain decisions for our project. From them we then acquired B. subtilis 3NA and B. subtilis PY79 . Using the same organism also allowed protocol collaboration, where we confirmed that electroporation was the best general approach for transforming a non-sporulating strain of B. subtilis, such as 3NA. Although it turned out that for integrative plasmids such as ours natural transformation is more optimal, this collaboration gave us a better understanding of the specific strains we had chosen.

Mountain View
Santa Cruz Farmers Market

   In collaboration with the UC Davis iGEM team, we also conducted a research study on public opinion for the definition of ‘Natural’, and its relationship to GMOs. Each team traveled to the local farmer markets in our respective cities to interview the key demographic that we hoped had the greatest connection towards ‘all-natural’ movement, and could provide the best insight into these key questions. This intervention collected valuable information on public opinion, in addition to cultivating internal discussion within the participants as they were forced to question their own beliefs—and to what extent those beliefs were held. Read more about it in our What is Natural? storyline!

   Additionally, we collaborated with the UCLA iGEM Team for an interview in our At What Cost? storyline. Interested in learning more about how the Do-It-Yourself biology movement was affecting the ambitions of young synthetic biologists and bioengineers, we reached out to the UCLA team to learn more about their thoughts on this movement. We were happy to see our friends at the UCLA iGEM team once again, and we are grateful for them for giving their time for our interview and questions. Lastly, we collaborated with the Virginia iGEM Team by contributing our answers and views to their Biocontainment survey.

Davis Farmers Market (Photo provided by the UC Davis iGEM Team)