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...
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...

geekStarter Weekend of Celebration and Deep Learning

This is an exciting time of the year for the geekStarter community! On June 10 and 11, geekStarter teams gathered together to share and celebrate their projects. They met with experienced guests and mentors and learned tips for how to succeed at competitions and what it would take to bring their projects to life and make an impact in the real world. Highly anticipated events like these are at the core of our program, which is operated by MindFuel with funding support from Alberta Innovates. They are key to Alberta teams’ excellent performance at competitions such as the international Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM), and plant the seeds for start-up companies in new technologies such as synthetic biology. Here is what Justin Pahara, Co-founder and Chief Science Officer at Amino Labs and one of the expert guests, commented: “It’s amazing that Alberta has this program – This is a great example of Alberta leading Canada out of the commodity economy.” At geekStarter’s 2017 High School Jamboree held at Notre Dame Collegiate in High River on Saturday June 10, six of geekStarter’s high-school teams presented their projects and received feedback and guidance from six experienced judges from academia and industry: Emily Hicks (President and Co-Founder at FREDsense Technologies), Julie Legault (CEO and Founder at Amino Labs), Robert Mayall (Vanier Scholar at University of Calgary, and Co-Founder at FREDsense Technologies), Justin Pahara (Chief Science Officer at Amino Labs), Anam Rizvi (Student in Mechanical Engineering with Biomedical specialization at University of Alberta), and Patrick Wu (Biotechnology Consultant). The Jamboree culminated with the top three teams winning special awards chosen by judges based on each team’s performance and areas of strength. Team...
Spotlight on geekStarters: Lethbridge High School iGEM Team

Spotlight on geekStarters: Lethbridge High School iGEM Team

Best Communication Awardees at geekStarter’s High School Jamboree on June 10: Lethbridge High School iGEM team – Pictured with them (at left) is judge and mentor Emily Hicks, presenter of the award Meet the High School iGEM team from Lethbridge, and learn about them and their project from this recent interview they gave us. What is unique about your team? Any memorable moments? We are an ethnically diverse group of high school students that very much enjoy synthetic biology and have found a way to try to solve a significant real world problem with syn bio. We have also found success with our project, performing greatly at the recent high school jamboree! What is your team’s favorite fun activity? What’s something your team does to bond? We have had a game night with our team, where people brought snacks and we played board games for hours! How does your team use social media? As of now, our team does not have a social media presence, but that is something that would be great to use! How would you describe your team’s project in 3 sentences or less? We will be manufacturing pigments using synthetic biology, to use for our own environmentally-friendly inks. To do this, we are using genes from many different organisms to create four colours, cyan, magenta, yellow and black. Our pigments will be created in the bacteria Escherichia coli, therefore being natural and much less environmentally damaging than current ink products. What has been one highlight of working on your project so far? Just recently, we won a special award at geekStarter’s High School Jamboree for best communication! What is your team’s biggest challenge?...