As a team, we strongly believe in the importance of giving back to our local community as a thanks for all that we have received. Here are some ways we have done so:
|In the folding process|
|Blood cells viewed through the completed Foldscope|
Microscopes are near-ubiquitous in science, especially in the field of synthetic biology. Unfortunately, microscopes are very costly and often inaccessible to labs with limited funding. Many labs, especially high school labs, are often greatly hindered in their pursuit of scientific knowledge by lack of this crucial instrument. Enter the Foldscope: an origami based microscope that can be mass produced at very low costs. These microscopes are capable to work as fluorescent, brightfield, and darkfield microscopes. The origami along with the brilliant optical design by Dr. Manu Prakash of Stanford University enables high volume fabrication of microscopes from a few lenses and a sheet of paper. The origami design creates flexure mechanisms that allows the final product to have a flat, compact design. Additionally, the preassembled Foldscope fits neatly on a standard sheet of paper so it can be easily handled. The Foldscope can survive harsh field conditions and still provide various imaging capabilities. This instrument has many applications for a low-cost, portable microscope. Lambert iGEM has incorporated the Foldscope into this year's project by engineering additional capabilities for the current Beta models. We designed filters to turn the Foldscope into a Fluorescent microscope. The ability to visualize GFP or other fluorescent proteins would incredibly helpful to other scientists who work in impoverished labs. To transform the standard Foldscope into a fluorescent microscope, we layered Roscolux filters over a halogen lamp. Although the current magnification or the lens makes visualizing bacteria problematic, we feel this is an interesting to avenue to keep exploring
Atlanta Science Festival
|The Panelists and iGEM team|
|Panelists in Discussion|
The Atlanta Science Festival is a three day celebration of science. Lambert's iGEM team was proud to be chosen as a partner of the event. We held a Discovery Dialogue entitled Synthetic Biology that was open to the public. The panelists included a FBI agent, State Legislator, Immunologist from the CDC, Biologist who serves on the Ethics board at Emory University and Professor of Chemical Engineering.
The varying perspectives led to a lively discussion led by the students. Topics ranged from genetic engineering in research labs, ethics of genetic engineering, biological weapons, agriculture, bioterrorism and GMO labeling among others. The public took part in a question and answer session as well. The attendees were polled prior to and again when leaving about their attitudes towards synthetic biology. More than 60% stated at the beginning that they were hesitant to approve the science of genetic engineering. After the panel discussion that dropped to just under 19%. The Discovery Dialogue was such a success that Lambert's team has been asked to partner with the Atlanta Science Festival with a longer event. Based on the feedback we received from the participants during this coming year, 2016, we are putting together a 1/2 day event that will include sessions: focused on agricultural use of synthetic biology, health and medicinal therapies and panel discussing the safety of synthetic biology.
Around 20 of our iGem members helped make the panel at Atlanta Science Festival go smoothly. The Atlanta Science Festival brings together people spanning multiple generations, from all walks of life. A stereotype exists that the older generation is ignorant to new technologies, but that does not necessarily equate to an unwillingness to learn. One of the more notable attendees of our Discovery Dialogue, an older woman approximately in her mid 60’s, was deeply concerned by the topic brought up regarding genetically modified apples that were altered to avoid browning. She vehemently debated against the modification of fruits because of the perceived notion that the taste of her beloved apples was greatly altered, along with all of the fruits since her childhood. With the panel of experts, as well as the LHS iGEM student’s input, we were able to help her come to the realization that the differences in agricultural production was not only the possible impact of GMOs, but also included modern transportation methods in the industry. This is just one example of how our panel at the Atlanta Science Festival helped to break down the misrepresentation of SynBio in the community.
Mike Dudgeon – Georgia State House of Representatives
Mike Dudgeon currently serves as the state Representative for District 25. He is the Chair of the Education Subcommittee on Academic Support and is a member of the Science and Technology, Small Business, and Energy/Utilities/Telecom committees. Representative Dudgeon has bachelors and masters degrees in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech, holds five U.S. patents, and has been an entrepreneur in the technology business his entire career.
John Cronier – FBI Special Agent
Special Agent (SA) John Cronier is assigned to the FBI Atlanta field office as the Weapons of MassDestruction Coordinator. He has more than 18 years of investigative and tactical operations experience with the FBI, primarily in domestic terrorism related matters.
Krista Queen – CDC Pathogen Discovery Team
Dr. Queen graduated from Louisiana State University with a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology. Her dissertation work centered on the role of Epstein Barr virus infection of epithelial cells and epigenetic changes caused by the virus. Currently, Dr. Queen is an ORISE Fellow researching the causes of human and animal diseases of unknown etiology and developing pathogen discovery assays.
Mark Styczynski – Georgia Tech Assistant Professor
Mark Styczynski is an Assistant Professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering atGeorgia Tech. His group is using synthetic biology to develop diagnostic blood tests and analytical chemistry techniques to study cellular metabolism. He received his Ph.D. from MIT and his B.S. from the University of Notre Dame, both in chemical engineering.
Arri Eisen – Director of Emory’s Science and Society Program
Arri Eisen received his Bachelor’s of Science with honors in biology from UNC-Chapel Hill and hisdoctorate in biochemistry from UW-Seattle. He is currently a Professor of Pedagogy in Biology, the institure of Liberal Arts, and the Center for Ethics at Emory University, where he has been since 1990.
Topics of Discission
- How do genetically modified organisms (GMOs) pertain to the work or research that you do?
- What are some government policies and/or regulations that you have encountered regarding GMOs?
- What safety measures should be in place to regulate the proliferation of GMOs, if any?
- Should GM foods be labeled?
- What are the possible repercussions of mass production and distribution of GM foods?
- What are some potential benefits GMOs can have in science?
- How has government interference hindered scientific development?
- How widely used are GMOs today in the laboratory setting?
- The United States has proposed analyzing genetic information from more than 1 million American volunteers as part of a new initiative to understand human disease and develop medicines targeted to an individual's genetic make-up. What critical ethical boundaries may arise from such a program? Should a human's genome be subject to privacy regulation, adequately protected from person to person? If so, to what degree?
- What is your opinion about the ever-increasing accessibility to manipulating biological organisms?
- What safety measures should be in place to regulate the proliferation of GMOs, if any?
- How accurate is society’s perception of GMOs, and what should we do to correct any misunderstandings?
Next Generation Focus
|Isolating DNA from Strawberries|
Keep Charlie Moving
|Sharing our fundraising efforts|
|Enjoying our friendship|
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is a genetic disease that affects 1 in 3,600 boys. We raised $600 for a local charity, “Keep Charlie Moving”, which helps to raise funds for a fellow Lambert student who has this disease. Because of this donation, he was able to travel to another state and receive treatment from a specialist. It is our hope that, someday, through techniques of synthetic biology, we will be able to cure genetic diseases.
Operation Christmas Child
|Our shopping efforts|
Our team also raised money for another local charity, Operation Christmas Child. We went out and gathered donations to give to a family that we sponsored at Christmas. In the package of gifts, we included a small educational microscope set - hopefully we will inspire a future scientist!
|Rubber Bands, the Best|
|From the side|
Solution: We noticed the holes at the bottom of the shaking water bath's tray that are meant for the wingnuts to be secured. Instead of purchasing the expensive brackets (that don't fit correctly, since we have one small set)- we found that a configuration of rubber bands works much better and is much more secure. All you need to do is secure them to the bottom using two holes and pulling each end of a single rubber band through two close holes. You then pull one end through the loop of the other to secure. Continue doing this until you have four points of contact to the base and can then work on securing the glassware to the base using more rubber bands.
|Visualizing the Tubes|
Solution: It is a simple solution to this frustrating problem- color the ice. One drop of blue food dye per 1L of water creates vibrant blue ice that can be easily differentiated from the tubes during wet lab work. It is also very helpful to have ice with a hole/dip in the middle to place tubes as opposed to strictly shaved ice (which runs the risk of diluting your solutions).
Keeping PCR Tubes Cold
|Using an Ice shaver|
|PCR tube in shaved ice|
Problem:As a high school lab, we don't have an ice block for our PCR tubes. This poses a problem because regular shaved ice could easily destroy the precise experiments by dripping melted chips into an open tube.
Solution: We fixed this by taking shaved ice, and packing it into a tray made for microcentrifuge tubes. We then used a single PCR tube to make indentations in the ice to use as a mold. This mold is then frozen for use in the next heat-sensitive lab. (Note: It is recommended that you use the centermost slots during your wet lab to avoid your ice channels from melting too quickly.)