Public engagement

Science Museum Lates

In the evening of 25th May, UCL iGEM team was invited to have its own stall at the Science Museum. The invitation worked well in our favour as it was themed synthetic biology. Such themed nights in science museum are after hours hence, “late” and only held at the last Wednesday of every month. As we were still developing concrete project ideas then, we decided to stick to more general aspects of synthetic biology and make it interactive to all sorts of people with or without synbio background. One of the most fascinating topic of synthetic biology we decided to focus on that night was Craig Venter’s code table with alphabets and punctuations.

We thought the curious visitors would be able admire and appreciate synthetic biology more if they could relate to it in some personal level. We displayed multiple copies of Craig Venter’s synthetic codon table and initially explained the idea and logic behind this. One mg of DNA can potentially store upto 455 exabytes of data was able to constantly surprise people.

To show an example of the data could be synthetically stored we used four different beads labelled A,G,T and C and using the Craig venter’s table people could convert their initials into three base codes. This was very helpful as people could then see how this system would work. Three unique non-degenerate bases made up of combination of A,G,T and C which represents either an alphabet or special character.

Once they were explained about the codon table, some of our team members were dedicated to help them weave a bracelet with their codon names on. Everyone was happy to learn something new and have a bracelet as a memorabilia.

Apart from the general talks on synthetic biology and Craig-Ventre’s now even more famous codon table, to the people with further interest in knowing what iGEM was, we talked about our project and participation and what we hoped to achieved by the end of this summer.

Overall, we had a good experience talking to people about synthetic biology, iGEM ,bacteria and ourselves !

We have also shared Craig Venter’s table we used to interact and entertain people in number of hundreds
The gentleman then passing his newly acquired knowledge or perhaps just trying to convince his slightly unhappy companion!
Proud bracelet owner!

Here’s a picture of some of our team setting up the table!
Oh! What a mess!
Some surprised and a little doubtful visitors here!
Mariola assisting the gentleman with his queries!
We also got people to be kind and helpful!
Some even went on to tweet us!

Synthetic Biology Showcase

UCL iGEM 2015 team participated in a one-day long synthetic biology showcase meeting, a first of its future annual event organised by UCL to present some of the leading developments and ideas of UCL Synthetic Biology community and of UK and European Synthetic Biology.

The one-day meeting is an opportunity for early career researchers, senior researchers and industry to share their progress and discuss the future direction of Synthetic Biology at UCL. The participating researchers present 20 minutes long talk on their project. At the end of the project presentation, a poster session is held. This is where the researchers and the audience can discuss their project, ideas and risks in details.

We had a wonderful afternoon in this event. Apart from presenting our poster on this event, we got feedbacks and questions from different researchers. It helped us see the challenges and possibilities of our project in new light. While the research in brain-gut axis is still recent and a lot needs to be done, the potential hope from synthetic biology exploiting this axis is tremendous.

Great minds discussing ideas!
We were not ready for photo with our poster yet!

Lucas was very intrigued!
Here’s Vitor Pinheiro, one of our supervisor whilst in a conversation!
They served Pimm’s too!