geekStarter Teams Updates – August 2018

Our teams got a lot done over the summer weeks. Here are their recent updates. Lethbridge High-School iGEM: Developing a system for efficient desalination of ocean water to produce clean drinking water This summer has been super busy for our team! Highlights: Members of the team visited the Lethbridge Waste Water treatment facility in order to gain a better understanding of where our proposed technology could fit into the pre-existing infrastructure. DNA constructs arrived and we have been busy in the lab cloning and completing protein overexpression and purification. The team has been working on their wiki page and have made a lot of progress in the site’s design and content. To celebrate RNA Day on August 1st, we were part of the Alberta RNA and Research Training Institute booth at the Lethbridge downtown farmers market. Fundraising efforts are moving forward with a musical showcase! The team will have a booth as part of the Innovation Pavilion at Whoop Up Days, where they can promote synthetic biology and our project. UCalgary BioMod Team: Building nano-sensors for fingerprinting in forensics analysis Fingerprints are widely used as biometric identifiers, even in everyday life, especially with increased use in technology. This project aims at enhancing the capabilities of fingerprint analysis used in the forensic world. The core idea is to immobilize bright and colourful nanoparticles made of cadmium telluride or zinc sulfide on the fingerprint ridges. In order to label the fingerprints only, the nanoparticles are functionalized with molecules that target lysozyme, a protein that is abundant in sweat, which makes up fingerprints. We have successfully synthesized cadmium telluride nanoparticles using two different syntheses. Both procedures...
Spotlight on geekStarters: Rochelin Dalangin

Spotlight on geekStarters: Rochelin Dalangin

The photo shows Rochelin Dalangin – mentor and team advisor for UAlberta iGEM team 10 Quick Questions for Rochelin How would you describe yourself in one sentence? Um, probably something along the lines of: “I’m a sugar-loving workaholic that enjoys puzzling over intellectual challenges with like-minded people.” What do you love the most about your work/school? I like that while there are routines and standardized workflows for my research, no two days are really the same, and that I know that the products of what we do can be directly used to study the brain further. What is your best accomplishment so far? As an undergrad, I’ve gotten into something like a groove or a routine, so when I started grad school, I told myself I’d try to push my comfort zone more, and I think that as a result of what I’ve done, I’ve grown and learned more about myself. What is something you are working towards right now? My projects are all based on developing fluorescent protein-based indicators for neurotransmission, so I’m working on a few indicators for different neurotransmitters. How do you like to spend your downtime? I enjoy live theatre, and I like travelling. There aren’t too many shows that come to Edmonton, so pretty much all my vacations involve going somewhere that has a show that I really want to see. Otherwise, I tend to hunt around the city looking for good food, or at home, catching up on sleep, reading, and of course, Netflix. What is something you can’t imagine your life without? Besides caffeine? Music, most definitely. I’m always connected to my earphones. What...

geekStarter Teams Updates – June 2018

Here are some recent updates from our high-school teams. Read on… Lethbridge High School iGEM 2018 – Lethbridge We have had a very exciting month! Here are some highlights. We presented our project “Control-Salt-Delete” at geekStarter’s High School Jamboree on May 26 and won the Best Opportunity Analysis award and an $1800 iGEM travel bursary. Both the University of Lethbridge and the Lethbridge Herald had articles on our success in Canmore. Our BioTreks paper won 6 badges and our student Michelle Wu got special recognition for her participation in the BioTreks conference. The team has participated in calculus and math modeling workshops led by mentor Chris Isaac. All members have completed their WHMIS training and we had our first wet lab workshop on June 16 – 17. DNA constructs have been designed and will be ordered very soon. The team is looking forward to a coding workshop in July and getting into the lab to start on their project. Father Patrick Mercredi High School: RSports Robotics Group – Fort McMurray The RSports group was acknowledged at our annual district Celebration of Excellence ceremony with a certificate. The Tackle Dummy is now in fabrication phase. The students finished the CAD models and are now fabricating with the welder. Motors have been stripped and encoders removed. Currently we are dealing with electrical issues due to the very large current draw on the system as a result of the 300lb robot! Students are working with an electrical engineer to resolve this. Notre Dame Collegiate Synthetic Biology Team – High River On June 15, team mentor Robert Mayall came to our school for a third school workshop. He helped us finish our...
Spotlight on geekStarters: Erin Kelly

Spotlight on geekStarters: Erin Kelly

The photo shows Erin Kelly (centre) with two members of the Lethbridge HS iGEM team – Nimaya DeSilva (left) and Candace Chan (right) – at the 2017 iGEM Giant Jamboree in Boston (photo courtesy of the iGEM Foundation and Justin Knight) 10 Quick Questions for Erin How would you describe yourself in one sentence? I am enthusiastic and meticulous about science and education, and I love to be challenged. What do you love the most about your work/school? I have the freedom to do the research I am interested in and the incredible support from my Professors. What is your best accomplishment so far? Optimizing the purification of the protein Cbf5 in my lab. This is a protein that I have studied for years and it’s very unstable. The new purification strategy has made my work and others’ work much easier. What is something you are working towards right now? Completing my MSc in Biochemistry at the Alberta RNA Research and Training Institute at the University of Lethbridge and starting medical school at the University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine. How do you like to spend your downtime? Hiking or skiing, depending on the season. What is something you can’t imagine your life without? My group of friends are the most supportive people and I would not be able to do the things I do without them. What is one thing that people will be surprised to hear about you? I have never participated on a collegiate iGEM team, I have only been involved with high school teams, either as a student or as an instructor. What is something you are...

geekStarter Jamboree and Workshop: Teams Share Projects and Gain Expert Feedback

On May 26-27, 2018, geekStarter high-school teams gathered together to share their projects, learn from experts and mentors, and celebrate their accomplishments. The highly anticipated weekend consisted of two events co-hosted with Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Academy in Canmore: May 26: geekStarter High School Jamboree May 27: geekStarter High School iGEM workshop At the Jamboree on Saturday, the teams presented their work in front of a panel of judges, and received feedback and practical tips for improving their projects and prospects as entrepreneurs. The following individuals participated as judges and generously shared their real-world expertise and insights. Alexis Hope – Designer and Researcher, MIT Media Lab Emily Marasco – PhD candidate, E.I.T., Education Specialist, EZ-Robot Inc. Julie Legault – CEO and Founder, Amino Labs Justin Pahara – CSO, Amino Labs Nolan Liss – Founder, Arcane Lights Patrick Wu – Biotechnology Business Development Consultant Sandi Boga – Director of Innovation, ATB Financial Ms. Emily Marasco also gave a presentation on ‘Effective Communication for Science and Engineering’ – a highly engaging skill building session that captivated the entire audience. At the end of the day, the teams were presented with Certificates and Special Awards in recognition of their accomplishments and progress – as indicated below. Father Mercredi High School Robotics (Fort McMurray): building a bear robot decoy for training protection dogs for workers on oil sand sites, and football tackle robot for reducing player injury and for collecting data to inform coaching – Special Award for Growing and mobilizing the STEM community – presented by Alexis Hope Lethbridge High School Synthetic Biology/iGEM team (Lethbridge): developing a cost effective method for making drinking water from ocean water through desalination – Special Award for Best opportunity analysis – presented by Sandi Boga Nexus Robotics (Calgary): programming autonomous behaviours into human-operated robots to improve their ability for avoiding collisions – Special...