Spotlight on geekStarters: UCalgary iGEM Team

Spotlight on geekStarters: UCalgary iGEM Team

A favorite team picture from a visit to the Pine Creek Wastewater Treatment plant. The team received an exclusive tour and had a lot of questions answered in regards to their project. Check out this recent interview with the iGEM team from University of Calgary, and learn about their exciting project and hopes for this iGEM season and beyond. What is unique about your team? Any memorable moments? The most unique part of our team is the diversity that we have. For the summer, we conducted “word of the day” consisting of all the different languages in our group. There were 12 different languages at one point. What is your team’s favorite fun activity? What’s something your team does to bond? We sometimes conduct table tennis and pool championships during lunch hours that get rather intense. We also like to meet up for meals after lab work. How does your team use social media? Our team uses Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to keep our followers updated on the progress of our project and the fun we have been having during our time together. We have also used social media to make the community aware of events we are involved in. Follow us @igemcalgary. How would you describe your team’s project in 3 sentences or less? Our project involves using human waste to produce polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) bioplastic that can be used for 3D printing. We are looking to implement this idea in long range space missions such as the Mars project where waste management will be a problem. What has been one highlight of working on your project so far? Being a member of the iGEM Calgary team...

geekStarter Community Highlights – August 2017

Our iGEM teams got a lot done over the past few weeks. Check out their recent updates!   UCalgary iGEM 2017  Project: Improving waste management on space missions by using genetically engineered bacteria to turn human waste into bioplastics Our human practices outreach efforts have been picking up steam, as we have decided to build on previous Alberta iGEM teams’ efforts and create an updated version of a manual instructing members of high schools and postsecondary institutions in the practical matters of starting an iGEM team. We want our manual, which will take the form of a video series, to be a real-world connection between the academic and public spheres, and encourage public participation in building the scientific body of knowledge. Our policy analysis also focuses on barriers which may impede access to synthetic biology and providing sound recommendations which will alleviate these barriers. We envision this to be an important area for research with connections to the feasibility and impact of our project.  Since a long-term space mission will be a collaborative effort between several nations, it becomes important to ensure that access to information and technology is equal across the world. We have other public engagement events planned for a more immediate way to increase local participation in science. On September 14, iGEM Calgary is partnering with TELUS Spark at the Adults Only Night to engage the broader public about the limitless applications of synthetic biology. In addition, we will be hosting an informal event for members of the public at a local venue, Home and Away YYC, to raise awareness about iGEM and synthetic biology. Our process development team is...
Spotlight on geekStarters: Lisa Oberding

Spotlight on geekStarters: Lisa Oberding

Lisa Oberding – Mentor of synthetic biology team from Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Academy in Canmore since 2014. In this photo, Lisa (right) teaches the students laboratory techniques at the Lab skills workshop held at University of Lethbridge in March 2017   10 Quick Questions for Lisa How would you describe yourself in one sentence? I’d say I’m very curious, tenacious (or stubborn, depending who you ask), and I love a challenge – I love learning new things, as well as using that knowledge to either master a new skill or build things from it in new and better ways. What do you love the most about your work/school? I love the challenge of what I do – really getting to apply what I have learned to solve problems and build something useful, and the potential to really make a difference in the process. What is your best accomplishment so far? Probably being a part of founding FREDsense and helping it to get to where it is now while getting my M.Sc. at the same time. What is something you are working towards right now? Outside of work, I’m currently working on learning how to code as well as learning to be completely fluent in Spanish before working on learning another language next year. How do you like to spend your downtime? My downtime (when I get it) usually goes one of two ways; either I’ll spend hours curled up reading a good book, or I’ll go on some kind of adventure – I love to travel and scuba dive, as well as bike, hike, rock-climb, and snowboard. What...

geekStarter Community Highlights – July 2017

Summer is peak time for iGEM teams. Find out what they have been up to in recent weeks.   UAlberta iGEM 2017 – Edmonton Aiming to develop a buoyancy based-bacterial screening method which utilizes a bacterial two-hybrid system, the team completed the assembly of the construct needed for this system, and is currently working on building a fluorescent reporter. They have run into some roadblocks in the cloning of the gas vesicle cluster of eleven genes into a single plasmid, but they welcomed this challenge because it exposed them to many different cloning techniques. The team has also started the modelling component of their project and are excited to get the ball rolling with that. As for human practices, they have been super busy reaching out to various channels for feedback on the project, setting up social media accounts, and planning different fundraising and community outreach events!   UCalgary iGEM 2017  With their research revamped towards a focus on long term space missions and the colonization of Mars, the progress of engineering their bacteria to produce bioplastics by recycling human waste has acquired increased momentum. The past few weeks have found them conversing with experts in numerous fields from scientists at the Calgary wastewater treatment plant to astronauts, including Chris Hadfield, to help guide their project towards completion. In the lab, the team has made valuable advances in the process of making Escherichia coli bacteria that can produce and secrete bioplastics. The lab work is divided into three groups: one which handles the complexities behind synthesizing the bioplastics, another which is figuring out methods of extracting the bioplastic from inside the cell, and finally a group to develop the complete process of plastic production, which rounds out the non-biological side of the project. The...
Spotlight on geekStarters: UAlberta iGEM Team

Spotlight on geekStarters: UAlberta iGEM Team

Postcard from Edmonton! University of Alberta iGEM team members in favorite photo collage   Meet the 2017 Collegiate iGEM team from University of Alberta in Edmonton, and learn about them and their project from this recent interview they gave us.   What is unique about your team? Any memorable moments? We have nine undergraduate students from both engineering and science. There are both senior and first year students on the team, and this brings a wide variety of perspectives to the table. However, we all share a common interest for synthetic biology. Our most memorable moment to date would have to be our night out in Calgary before the iGEM kickoff meeting.   What is your team’s favorite fun activity? What’s something your team does to bond? Our team is very passionate about food… particularly all-you-can-eat sushi! We also have a group chat so we can stay connected, or more realistically, so we can send memes to each other and go off on random discussions about life.   How does your team use social media? We use social media to connect to other iGEM teams, set up potential collaborations, and most importantly for checking out memes. Once our social media presence is further developed, we would like to utilize it as part of our community outreach.   How would you describe your team’s project in 3 sentences or less? We are attempting to engineer bacteria to select for and optimize protein-based drugs for the treatment of cancer using a buoyancy-based screening system. Favourable protein-protein interactions will trigger the production of gas vesicles, and the cells’ buoyancy can be used to screen and...