Collaborations with Universities
University of Oxford
SoxR and pSoxS library design and characterisation
When we heard that the Oxford team would be using SoxR/SoxS parts we were excited to form a collaboration with them. While designing our constructs we realised a fairly significant limitation on the use of the SoxR/SoxS system: the lack of a characterised library. We saw an opportunity, and decided to design a library of our own to help us understand and exploit this genetic system further. In collaboration with the Oxford iGEM team, we designed a SoxR protein library and a pSoxS promoter library, which we characterised in our respective systems, the results of which can be found in our results page. Our improved part, submitted for a gold award, was taken from this library. We would like to thank the Oxford team for collaborating with us on this endeavour.
New Scientist Live Science Fair at the Excel Centre, London
New Scientist Live (NSL) was an amazing platform for presenting our project to the general public. The people we met were interested in science, but relatively unaware of the field of synthetic biology. With the Oxford team, we manned a booth at NSL for four days. We spoke to hundreds of guests about synthetic biology and our respective projects. Also, as part of the collaboration with Oxford, we designed a flyer with the aim of introducing synthetic biology and iGEM to the general public, as well as educating people on some basic molecular biology techniques we use in the lab. We would like to extend our warmest thanks to the Oxford team for collaborating with us on communicating our projects and the field of synthetic biology to the public.
Troubleshooting and graphic design workshop
We knew that towards the end of iGEM we could be facing roadblocks in our project and that we would all be quite stressed about trying to complete everything in time for the wiki freeze. We predicted that the pressures at this stage of the competition could cloud our judgment and prevent us from thinking clearly about our problems, and we knew that we would not be the only team facing these problems. So, we reached out to our fellow London iGEM teams and organised a troubleshooting meet-up well in advance, so that we can all tackle each of our roadblocks as an iGEM community. As well as troubleshooting, we invited graphic design students from the University of Arts London Central St Martins (see below) to give us feedback and advice on our wiki and poster designs. Thank you UCL, KCL and Westminster for all your support and advice towards overcoming our problems, and thank you to the UAL graphic design students for helping all of us with our wiki and poster designs.
Building our PixCell construct using Printeria
This year UPV Valencia developed Printeria, a novel microfluidics-PCB based technique to precisely mix DNA parts for Golden Gate assemblies. When we heard about their idea through one of our supervisors, we instantly contacted them to begin a collaboration. In our collaboration we sent the parts for our PixCell construct to them for assembly. We had manually assembled our construct using Golden Gate, but with great difficulty, and we were interested to see whether Printeria could succeed and how the circuits would compare.
The UPV Valencia team were able to assemble the PixCell construct, but due to limited time we were not able to test and publish the results on our wiki. Regardless, we would like to thank UPV Valencia for coming up with such an innovative technique and we wish them all the best at taking Printeria to the next level
Reviewing our Communication Strategies Guide
Communication is the key theme of our project and it resonates throughout our work. As part of our human practices, we wanted to provide people, and academics in particular, with tools to improve science communication and help deliver information efficiently to any kind of audience. For this we have created our target="_blank" style="color:#24305E"Communication Strategies Guide, which went through several iterations of improvement, thanks to the feedback given to us by the KUAS Korea, NCTU Formosa, MethuHS, KCL and Warwick teams. We would like to thank them for all their advice and helping us to refine our work.
Characterising Thessaloniki’s devices
Team Thessaloniki aimed to decouple the gene of interest (GOI) transcription rate from the plasmid copy number in cells. Their project was inspired by the results of the 2014 and 2015 iGEM interlab studies that aimed to identify and correct the sources of systemic variability in synthetic biology measurements. As part of the collaboration they sent us four devices that they assembled, which we transformed and characterised in the DH5α strain of Escherichia coli. The results of this collaboration can be found by following this link to the Thessaloniki Team’s wiki. We would like to thank the Thessaloniki Team for involving us in their noble study on trying to improve and standardise the field of synthetic biology.
Characterising Nottingham's promoter library
The Nottingham team is working on tackling the development of antibiotic resistance via phage therapy. As part of their experiments they required characterisation of a library of promoters, which we helped measure using our plate reader, the data for which can be found on their collaborations page. We wish Nottingham all the best and hope that we may have contributed to the success of their project.
Team communication App: Let’s Talk About This
The theme of communication is present all throughout our project and has been something on the forefront of our minds the whole time. We understand that working in a team, especially one that is formed of members who may not know each other, can be quite stressful and awkward at first, especially when it comes to raising issues. For this reason, we took the initiative to develop an app, "Let’s Talk About This", that allows the initiation of difficult conversations in a fair and mature manner. The development of the content for the app couldn’t have been possible without all the help from the iGEM community, who gave us their valuable time and attention by answering some awkward and even difficult questions regarding their own team communication issues. Specifically, we would like to acknowledge UCL, KCL, Oxford, Warwick, Edinburgh, Bielefeld, Valencia, Thessaloniki, METU HS Ankara, HebrewU, UIUC Illinois, NCTU Formosa and KUAS Korea for helping us broaden our perspective on team communication issues and helping us create a tool to take a step towards addressing them.
Collaborations with University of Arts London students
Science communication collaboration
Communication from scientists to non-scientists can have its challenges. Communicating scientific information is one aspect, but sometimes words are not enough to help the audience understand our work or inspire them to help us in our endeavours as synthetic biologists. For this reason, we wanted to approach the topic of science communication without using words at all, so we collaborated with student artists form University of Arts London (UAL) Camberwell to create art pieces that would be able to convey synthetic biology without words. The resulting art pieces can be viewed in our digital gallery. We would like to thank all of the talented artists who took time off of their summer to help us convey our passion, enthusiasm and vision of synthetic biology to the world through their art pieces.
Graphic design workshop
As part of the troubleshoot meet-up with the other London iGEM teams, we also invited graphic design students from the University of Arts London Central St Martins to run a graphic design workshop in which they explained some of the foundational concepts of graphic design. Using previous iGEM wikis as examples, they showed us what makes a good wiki functional and easy to use. Furthermore, they advised all the teams individually on how to improve our wiki and poster designs. We would like to thank the students, Audrey, Michelle and Andrea for joining us at our troubleshooting event and running the graphic design workshop to help us improve our design skills.
Web design consultation
For our wiki we worked closely with Virginia Ma, a graphic design student from University of Arts London Central St Martins, who helped us in many aspects of the design of our wiki, from picking the colour scheme to laying out the pages and providing illustrations for us. Thank you Virginia for all your help!