This year iGEM Guelph continued its expansion to fostering relations with other established teams and had two main teams with whom we collaborated.
Collaboration 1: iGEM Waterloo
iGEM Waterloo was a huge help this year. This team, being the closest team to iGEM Guelph geographically, ended up being one of our largest sources of expertise. iGEM Guelph is now in its second year, still trying to be established at our home university, while iGEM Waterloo has existed for nearly a decade! With their team and university connections so well established, iGEM Waterloo provided our team with knowledge during every encounter, such as at the Ontario iGEM Annual Meeting (oGEM) and at University of Western Ontario’s Synthetic Biology Conference. We’ve discussed topics that ranged from how to secure funding from our university, motivating team members throughout the year, what we should be looking for in a faculty supervisor and different angles from which we should explaining the iGEM Experience.
The Waterloo iGEM also gifted us black, flat, clear-bottomed, 96 well plates so that we could complete the interlab study.
Thanks for being our awesome big siblings, iGEM Waterloo!
Collaboration 2: iGEM Dalhousie
iGEM Dalhousie became very close with our team between the friendship of their Co-President Matt Curry and our own Jehoshua Sharma. With Dalhousie being a cool 13 hour drive away, a lot of our team communication has been over skype. iGEM Dalhousie and iGEM Guelph seemed to have similar issues arise this year and we had many Skype sessions discussing how to tackle lab interest and engagement within the team. We learned from their prior experience the help that Graduate Mentors can provide to an undergraduate team and a healthy way to retain members is by having an exciting incentive outside of lab work to keep the entire team contributing and on task! iGEM Guelph was able to also offer a few suggestions such as discussing potential University avenues to secure funding from (such as their President or Office of Research) as well as the concept of having weekly lab meetings with their faculty supervisor.
iGEM Dalhousie introduced our team to the exciting world of scientific communication from an iGEM perspective with their PloSibilites blog and iGEM Guelph got a chance to write blog posts our “Can Fruit Flies Help Us Predict the Course of Evolution” and “To bee or not to bee? Can you tell if a beehive has CCD?” posts. This collaboration was very important for iGEM Guelph to start our work on communicating with the public through information dissemination, about the impact that science has on our society as well as the impact that society has on science. Please check out our featured posts by Ruthand Nathanael!
High fives and firm handshakes all around, iGEM Dalhousie!
Collaboration 3: iGEM McMaster
This year iGEM Guelph had the pleasure of attending the Ontario iGEM Annual Meet Up (oGEM) which was hosted by McMaster University. Multiple teams across Ontario gathered together to discuss our project and team experience. We were joined by iGEM teams from the Universities of Toronto, Queens, Waterloo, Brock, Ottawa, and Western Ontario. This year we were also joined by representatives of SynBio Canada and we all engaged in topics of the challenges faced by researchers in the field of Synthetic Biology and why there is an opposition to its universal implementation as a viable tool to help solve global problems. Our team’s own Jehoshua Sharma brought up one of the main talking points about a huge challenge of synthetic biology: We don’t have an accessible definition of synthetic biology, and so it’s hard for the public to realistically understand what it is if every scientist has their own personal definition and not a consistent answer for the general public.
The experience to engage with the other teams, by virtue of sharing values and critiques of each other’s projects has inspired Guelph iGEM to be the hosts of oGEM 2019.
You rock, iGEM McMaster, stay cool!