Collaborating with another iGEM teamThis year, we were happy to work alongside iTesla to create an iGEM Guide for Community Laboratories interested in hosting an iGEM team. As high schoolers participating in iGEM through community laboratories in our city, we have witnessed unique situations and overcame challenges that other teams may not have come across. We created this guide with the purpose of encouraging community labs from around the world to compete in the iGEM competition. In July, we found out about another iGEM team that was similar to us. iTesla, based in Seattle, Washington, was also a high school iGEM team that worked inside a community laboratory. After contacting them through email, we arranged to meet on Skype. During this meeting, we discussed the idea of an iGEM Guide, and the various aspects of iGEM that a new team would need to know.
Reaching out to the CommunityBefore creating our guide, we reached out to fellow community laboratories from across the world to ask a few questions related to iGEM. After explaining the concept of the iGEM competition, we posed our questions. They read as follows:
1) Have you ever considered having an iGEM team? If so, what were the perceived barriers? (ie. fundraising, finding students or mentors, etc.)
2) Would a report detailing our experiences in creating and maintaining an iGEM team be useful to you? This would involve sections such as recruiting, training and fundraising.
Out of the 29 community laboratories that we contacted, we were fortunate enough to have 11 labs contact us back, despite the language barriers there may have been. These 11 laboratories range from locations as far as China and Belgium to as close as Canada and the U.S. states. Some of these community labs have expressed that “they would love to read [our] report to know more about iGEM” while as others expressed their concerns with iGEM and that if they choose to pursue iGEM our report “could be useful”.
Some of the concerns they expressed are very much in line with the obstacles we have witnessed in the past, so we specifically focused on those issues in our report. The report includes a section explaining the iGEM competition, the basics on how to start a team, an attributions section, and an appendix. The appendix has detailed explanations on each part of starting and managing a team, including recruiting, training, timeline and more. Both the Baltimore BioCrew and iTesla team state what they have attempted in relation to each topic, what has worked and what has not worked. To conclude the topic, a section on advice/improvements is usually provided to give potential iGEM teams direction on where to start.
We plan on continuing to add more feedback as our experience with the iGEM competition progresses and hope to encourage more community laboratories to invite local high schoolers to compete in the iGEM competition using their lab space with our iGEM Guide.Check Out Our Guide Here!