The University of Georgia iGEM Team has been working to promote cooperation in the field of synthetic biology, increase interest and awareness in synthetic biology in the local Athens area, and created a biosafety brochure for other the community interested in shipping biological materials.
CooperationIn 2015, the UGA iGEM team completed our own interlab study, and the 2016 iGEM team has strived to build upon and expand this project. In 2015 we started our interlab by creating spreadsheets for our data and determined the proper protocols for shipping our extracts. That year we sent out ten archeal mCherry extracts to ten teams in the United States. This year we aimed to improve on this study by developing a more robust protocol and also also by giving teams the option to use Flow Cytometry to take mCherry measurements. Furthermore, we aimed to expand our Interlab to include both international and domestic teams. By including a more robust protocol we hope to reduce the standard deviation of our data. In our study we hope we not only highlight the reproducibility of our data but also give team experience handling Archaeal extracts and using flow cytometer. These experience we hope will allow to improve expand their laboratory skills while simultaneously highlighting the utility of Archaea in the field of synthetic biology.
Education and Awareness of Synthetic Biology on Campus
Downtown Academy Synthetic Biology Lesson
One of our major educational initiatives was to introduce and inspire our love of synthetic biology to the younger, underprivileged community at Downtown Academy, a school in one of the poorest counties in the entire United States. We collaborated with the Foundation for the International Medical Relief of Children to bring a fun, interactive activity for the children based around the utility and importance of bacteria in everyday life such as digestive processes. The highlight of was our glow in the dark handwashing activity where we used a dye that turns fluorescent under Ultra-violet light in order to teach them how to wash their hands properly.
Lambert High School GMO Discussion Panel
As part of the iGEM outreach activities, three of our UGA iGEM members represented the team at the Lambert high school iGEM group discussion panel that was held at Georgia Tech on the 19th of March, 2016. The purpose of the discussion panel was to enlighten the audience about the differences between GMO crops and crops grown using conventional methods of agriculture. Our members served as "experts" for genetic modification. Questions were asked on GMO regulations and its impacts on the environment and human health. Despite the fact that our members were the only undergraduates, (the panel had mostly professors in the science field) they were able to give concise answers to the questions; as a result, they succeeded in increasing the audience’s knowledge about GMO and synthetic biology in general.
Presentation at the CURO Symposium:
Some of our members went to present at the symposium hosted by the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities, which offers undergraduate research opportunities to students at the University of Georgia. We held a poster presentation in order to help engage some of the undergraduate students looking into research opportunities so that we could spark their interests in synthetic biology.