Team:Missouri Miners/Organization



Becoming a RSO

In Fall 2010, our iGEM team became a recognized student organization (RSO) at Missouri S&T. This was a critical step for our team because we do not have any consistent or stable funding sources outside of our university. Now our team has access to funding from Student Council under a Professional Projects fund. This has allowed us to start purchasing our own equipment and secure our own lab space. This has been a huge jump for our previously struggling team. In addition to funding, being a RSO allows our team access to additional exposure and the ability to host legitimate functions at the university, such as our Synthetic Biology Informational this past spring.

Student Design and Experiential Learning Center

Once our team obtained RSO status, we applied to be a part of the Student Design and Experiential Learning Center (SDELC). This is an organization that oversees and provides opportunities and resources to student design teams on campus. Missouri S&T has a highly-valued tradition of outstanding student design teams across multiple engineering disciplines, including Solar Car, Concrete Canoe, Solar House, Human-Powered Vehicle, Miner Baja SAE, Advanced Aero Vehicle Group, Formula SAE Racing Team, Robotics, and Steel Bridge. We intend to increase the diversity of student design teams on campus because we are a diverse organization that brings a unique aspect of design to the university.

Being a part of the SDELC will increase exposure of our team and increase awarness of iGEM and synthetic biology. The SDELC will also provide us with many additional resources, such as staffing support and funding opportunities. We have submitted our application to be a part of the SDELC and look forward to being an official SDELC design team in January.

Most Improved Organization Award

In Spring 2011, our iGEM team won the Outstanding Student Leaders' Most Improved Organization award. This honor was presented to us by Missouri S&T's Corporate Development Council and Student Council. The following is a nomination essay for our iGEM team:

I am nominating the iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machines) team at Missouri S&T for the Most Improved Student Organization award. S&T's iGEM team was formed a few years ago by Dr. Katie Shannon of the Biological Sciences department with just a few students working on an ethanol sensor project. Since then, iGEM has only worked on that project and one other, trying to create an aerobic microbial fuel cell. In the past iGEM's success has been limited by small membership, lack of funding, poor leadership, and lack of lab training that made it difficult for new members to get involved.

However, with the hard work of a few students and an new executive board elected in December 2010, iGEM has flourished in the past year. This year iGEM gained status as a recognized student organization and a student design team. iGEM also gained their own lab space in Schrenk Hall. Membership has increased by about 30%, and non-officer members are much more active, whereas before only a couple of officers did most of the work. iGEM has also raised about $1000 from fundraising efforts this semester alone, received corporate sponsorship, gotten approved for funding from S&T's Student Council, and been approved to receive funding from the professional projects fund in the future. All of these funding sources will make it much easier to pursue more advanced research projects. Since being elected in December 2010, the executive board has already formed a spring class that is being taught this semester to teach new iGEM members lab techniques and develop good research project proposals to be presented at the 7th Annual Undergraduate Research Conference. A new project for iGEM to pursue will be selected from these proposals in the following weeks and work on the project will begin at the end of the semester and into the summer. The executive board has already laid out groundwork for an intensive research program over the summer.

Some iGEM members are also applying to do research through the OURE Fellows program about public opinion of synthetic biology and how education can affect that opinion. Because of this and other efforts to become a more well-known and interdisciplinary organization, iGEM has recruited students from a variety of majors in the last year, whereas before most members were either biology or chemical engineering majors. iGEM is also making an effort to reach out to the community through educational events and seminars, such as the synthetic biology informational (scheduled for April 13), a synthetic biology workshop presented to visiting prospective students, setting up an ethical discussion about synthetic biology through Speak UP Speak OUT, and talking to the Rolla High School's Science Olympiad team about synthetic biology.

I hope that from this essay one can easily see that iGEM has come a very long way in just a year and is very deserving of the Most Improved Student Organization Award.