Team:SJTU-BioX-Shanghai/Public Engagement

Public Engagement


For education and public engagement human practice, we spent a lot of efforts on introducing our project, the iGEM competition and synthetic biology to the society. We can divide our work into 4 parts, outreach, visualization, analyse and communication. In outreach prat, we’ve organized exhibitions, propagation and providing teaching support to spread the concept of synthetic biology as well as our own feeling to which. Also, to make our project more acceptable by common people, we exhibit and give out various art pieces including postcards, bookmarks, leaflets and art entities as the visualization part. Analyze is a crawling method which can be used by other teams which can help for iGEM data analyse. Also, we attend conferences and seminars to communicate with professors and other teams about our project.


This part our theme is to introduce our project, the iGEM competition and synthetic biology to the society. So we held several activities to accomplish this task.
First, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the development of synthetic biology and the 10th anniversary of the establishment of SJTU-BioX-Shanghai iGEM team, we organized a science exhibition on the topic of synthetic biology to promote the development of the discipline and provide the public with opportunities to understand science and participate in science. The exhibition achieved very good response in the library. In the 20 days, our exhibition attracted a large number of people to visit.

  • Exhibition

    Science exhibitions are an important means of disseminating scientific and technological ideas and popularizing knowledge [1]. The science and technology exhibitions carried out in public places have the characteristics of large coverage, large flow of people, detailed content and controllable costs, which are one of the important ways to carry out public science education activities. The exhibition can be combined with explanations to further develop the scientific role of the exhibition, bridge the effective communication between scientists and the public. This can promote scientific knowledge go out of the laboratory and the journal to more common people, as well as establish an intuitive understanding of the development of science and technology for the people, which can enhance the scientific literacy of the people and their interest in science.

    The history of science and technology is a science about the emergence, development and regularity of science and technology. Because of its interdisciplinary comprehensiveness and research on the development of science and technology, it is recognized as a powerful tool for scientific education. After the 1940s, the social function of science became increasingly prominent. Thomas Kuhn proposed that the history of science is an important bridge connecting science education and human culture. He proposed that in the process of science education, strengthening the education of the history of humanities and science more than any other aspect of science determines our imagination of the nature of science and the role of invention and discovery in the development of science and technology. In the middle and late 20th century, the public's thinking about science triggered by Rachel Caison's Silent Spring made scholars at that time aware of the need for the scientific community to let the public know what the truth of science and technology is. Michael R. Matthews believes that the best way to promote science education is to combine science education with the historical and philosophical dimensions of science. When the public masters the basic knowledge of science, they understand the diversity of science and the nature of science. After that, most of the theoretical and practical operational aspects of science education can be solved very well [2].

    As the ancient Chinese proverb says, to make great process, it must rely on the history first. The development of synthetic biology is the same. In 1978, Szybalski commented in the journal Gene that restriction enzyme technology will lead us into a new era of synthetic biology after Daniel Nathans, Werner Arber and Hamilton Smith discovered the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of DNA restriction enzymes. This is the first time that the development of synthetic biology has been proposed in the academic field [3]. From 1978 to 2018, synthetic biology has gone through forty years of development. Its concept has gradually enriched and technology has been increasingly advanced. As a result, research fields have become more in-depth and results have emerged endlessly. But the public is still very unfamiliar with the term "synthetic biology", and know little about the ideas and logic behind it. Therefore, it is a significant work to sort out the development history of synthetic biology and present it to the public through scientific exhibitions.

    As the top competition in the field of synthetic biology, the iGEM competition represents the vision and efforts of the new force in the field of scientific research. Our team SJTU-BioX-Shanghai, built in 2008, participates in iGEM competition for the tenth year in 2018. In the past ten years, the team has been focusing on the issues of basic science, medicine, and sociology from a scientific perspective, which has provided possibilities for people's better life in a synthetic biology. We make a significant progress in thinking about synthetic biology, science, and society. On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the development of synthetic biology and the 10th anniversary of the establishment of SJTU-BioX-Shanghai, we organized a science exhibition on the topic of synthetic biology to promote the development of the discipline and provide the public with opportunities to understand science and participate in science.

    The exhibition of synthetic biology was held at No. 800 Dongchuan Road, Minhang District, Shanghai, and was held in the East Exhibition Area of the main library of Shanghai Jiaotong University Library. The exhibition period was 2018.08.20-2018.09.10. The 20-day exhibition is divided into two parts: “Into Synthetic Biology” and “Ten Years of History, Synthetic Brilliance”. The first part, "Into Synthetic Biology", introduces the public to the origins of synthetic biology, subject ideas, development processes, typical technologies, important achievements, and prospects for the future of synthetic biology. Through the informative texts, lively illustrations, and easy-to-understand explanations, the public is presented to all aspects of this emerging discipline, establishing the original impression of the new direction in the development of the current life sciences for the public, and making the public has a new understanding that the science can bring happiness to human beings It also provides a new perspective for the public to more rationally deal with the various effects brought about by the development of science and technology. The second part, "Ten Years of History, Synthetic Brilliance", reviewed our ten-year team SJTU-BioX-Shanghai's building concept, the course of the competition, and the projects of each year, which further expands the influence of iGEM in the public and also shows iGEMer's spirit of exploration, rigorous scientific attitude, innovative research philosophy and broad social feelings to the public.

    The exhibition achieved very good response. In the 20 days, our exhibition attracted a large number of people to visit. In the guest book on the exhibition site, we received feedback from many enthusiastic audiences, expressing their appreciation for the development of science and technology, the encouragement of researchers, the confidence and expectation of a better future for technology, and the blessing of our team to achieve the desired results and have continued success this year.

    Our 10th anniversary theme exhibition

Besides, we participate in School of Life Science open day and introduce our project and synthetic biology to other students in our school.

  • Life Science Open Day

    On the afternoon of October 10, our team together with SJTU-software team had a poster session at the open day at our school. We met lots of freshmen of school of life science, and we have introduced our project, iGEM competition and synthetic biology theory to them. They said they are willing to join our team next year and want to attribute themselves for synthetic biology.

    Introducing iGEM at open day

As well, we went forward to rural areas in China to provide teaching support about basic biology knowledge. Student were all enthusiastic about our synthetic biology works. Those brand-new thoughts arouse their creativity and they also gave us some creative ideas about our work and synthetic biology.

  • Teaching Support

    We all know that the future of mankind depends on the next generation, and the next generation depends on education. Qinghai Province is a relatively backward area of ​​education and scientific literacy in China. Due to the lack of bioscience literacy among students in Qinghai, they chose to promote public science. Therefore, SJTU-BioX-Shanghai team member He Peixiang followed the school branch to the Huangchuan Middle School in Qinghai Province on August 2-7, and led the students to observe various samples using microscopes and introduce botany, microbiology and other related knowledge. Exclaiming the beauty and wonder of creatures, the interest in biology has greatly improved.

    On August 4th, team member He Peixiang conducted a science education activity on the theme of “Synthetic Biology and Gene Molecular Machines”. During the event, He Peixiang mainly introduced the concepts related to synthetic biology, the ideas, principles and methods of molecular machine construction, and introduced our project “ECHO” as an example to introduce how biotechnology should be applied and benefit humanity. The students felt that they had benefited a lot and had a preliminary understanding of the knowledge and significance of synthetic biology.

    Team member teaching in Qinghai


How to let people get to know our thoughts? This has always been a huge question in our mind. This year, we provide a series of visualization methods to let common people to feel, see, touch and get to know us.
First, we made a series of postcards about cancer patients care and fixing mental injury. We chose some famous lines and poems attached with pictures to comfort patients by letting them know people care about them, and encourage them to look forward.

  • Art Design

    Our postcard design

Then, we start a program named lucky draw. It’s a common activity in Chinese young people. We designed a series of lucky draws about biological experiment. By sharing on twitter, we could we can have coherence with other iGEM teams.

  • Lucky Draw

    Lucky Draw


Communication is about how we meet other teams and how we communicate our designs and thoughts. We hold and participate in several conferences where we tell about our experience and had great experience.
First, we held a seminar with professors, teachers and students. We shared our iGEM project and our lab experience. And we tell about our project’s advantages and disadvantages, its user experience and importance for society.

  • Seminar

    In the afternoon of October 9,about 30 undergraduates in the school of life science and biotechnology discussed our project this year with professor Zhang Dabing and Wang Canhua.He Peixiang, a member of SJTU-BioX-Shanghai, introduced this year's project from the Background, Design and the Results.Then the students and teachers have a heated discussion of our work .Most of the students feeled our project extraordinary and significant. Professor Zhang thought highly of our project and he suggested that using the purified gas vesicle protein and medicine directly capsulated in the liposome and modifying it with short peptide may lead to better diagnosis and treatment,which are more effective ,more specific and more harmless. From another point,professor Wang pointed that using what we have learned to benefit human life is the real purpose of learning modern biotechnology.

    Introducing our project at seminar

Then we participate in two conferences: 5th Conference of Chinese iGEMer Community (CCiC) and Asia-Pacific Conference. On conference, we did presentations, introduced our project with poster and received suggestions from other teams.


Data analyzing has always been a usual method for iGEM human practice. But finding data has not always been so easy. This year, we plan to find the iGEM competition change by years.
We have developed a crawling method for crawl down iGEM information by python package selenium. This can be used for other teams which are also interested about iGEM competition data. We have already crawled down the Judging form and team information, which forms our analyze

(Author:Bozitao Zhong)