The Brown-Stanford iGEM team was involved in a number of collaborative efforts with iGEM teams this summer. Below we detail each of these projects.
At the Fifth International Meeting on Synthetic Biology, we began an intriguing conversation with some of the fellow iGEM teams we met. One of the key components of the competition each year is outreach and collaboration, both within the synthetic biology community as well as with the larger public. These efforts remind us that science does not happen in a vacuum and prod us to take action in incorporating others into our research and conversation. In the past, many iGEM teams have reached out to their local community in the form of surveys and conversation catalysts. Some teams have even made use of the media and received publicity for synthetic biology through articles and news reports. These are important but unfortunately isolated efforts; there has not been much coordination between teams, of either tools or publicity.
This year, we hope to restructure the outreach component of iGEM to be more high-throughput. Instead of having individual teams work strenuously to push for publicity in local areas, designing and redesigning new surveys and activities each year, what if we could run Outreach like next-gen companies are running gene sequencing— in massive parallel? Of course, iGEM teams are a little different from DNA sequencing machines. To scale up our efforts, we need to incorporate more teams and get everyone working together.
In response to this challenge we, along with iGEMers from the 2011 teams at Arizona State, Cornell, University of Panama, UTP Panama, and UQ-Australia, have created a website on OpenWetWare called CommunityBricks (http://openwetware.org/wiki/IGEM_Outreach). The site will be a growing repository of ideas for synthetic biologyinspired activities, course plans, and educational media to improve the scope and quality of synthetic biology outreach efforts. We have already posted the protocols for a few fun activities on the site, such as how to make a DNA necklace or create a DIY gel electrophoresis machine. However, there is still an enormous space for creativity, and to that end, we would like to turn to you. As the summer progresses and you begin to think about outreach efforts, we hope that you will not only use and adapt these ideas when sharing synthetic biology with your own community, but also share your own: to contribute to the website by adding activities and lesson plans, commenting on outreach ideas proposed by other iGEM teams, and recording your outreach experiences with videos and pictures.
The Brown-Stanford iGEM is proud to be part of this inter-team collaboration!
AlumniGEM is a new platform for connecting past, present and future members of iGEM. The mission statement of this website can be demonstrated in a simple exercise: take a look at the picture above, from the 2010 Jamboree at MIT. Imagine standing in that crowd (or perhaps you were there), looking up towards the camera man in the balcony- how many of those around you do you know? New friends, old acquaintances, brought together in an action-packed weekend to celebrate each other’s hard work and great ideas, but after that amazing weekend, how many will you keep in touch with? How many will you see again?
Baking a Community Cake
According to social group theory, the recipe for making a community is very simple:
- Add equal parts shared activities (a summer spent elbow-to-pipetting elbow)
- and mutual interest (What? You have an account on PLoS too? I just looove reading about cerevisiae);
- a liter of adversity (sleep and food? How can you think about such extravagant things when the wiki is closing down in ten hours?)
- a generous scoop of good time
- and a pinch of magic.
Mix thoroughly, bake in the heat and excitement of a Jamboree.
Cool in the draft of a hundred planes flying back to the corners of the world.
Partake of frequently.
Each summer we throw our life blood in baking these community cakes, but we often forget to cherish the last step. We meet great friends, and slowly lose touch of them to the distances of time and location.
Fear not, for the Internet is Here!
This summer though, we will try something different. We will use the powers of the internets, to go boldly where mail and post horses have failed. We will unite the iGEM community, resurrect old ties, and bring forward inspiring stories from past alumni. In preparation for the day that we shall rule the synbio world, we shall find new friends, bring them all together and in the forums bind them. We will forge bonds so strong that even the fires of Mordor will not be able to undo them!
So yeah, that’s what we hope this website to do and become. Please help us. Join the Fellowship of the iGEMring today!
The MediaWiki pages for each team is an important aspect of the iGEM project, because it serves as one of the few visual ways to show the results of each team's work after a long summer of hard work. Our team worked a great deal with improving the way that web development for iGEM can be used on the iGEM MediaWiki, and we've helped a couple of other teams with their wikis by having our source code available for use.