Giant Jamboree/Special Events


In addition to the main portion of the Jamboree which is the team presentations and posters as in the past, we have organized an additional 34 workshops that will take place on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Below is the complete list of the 2015 Giant Jamboree Special Event Workshops, along with their descriptions. We have broken down the workshops into 5 categories to help you sort through all of these exciting events.

We hope you and your teammates will attend as many as possible!

The detailed schedule for the time and location of each workshop can be found on the Schedule page.

  • iGEM Community Workshops: The iGEM community represents a wide range of groups and interests. Here are some workshops organized for the general iGEM community.
  • Sponsor Workshops: Come learn about various topics, including software, outreach, and even dance, from our 2015 Sponsors! This year, come and see how our sponsors go above and beyond!
  • After iGEM Workshops: You have spent the past several months working with your team on your iGEM project. Now what? Being an iGEMer does not end after the Jamboree. Check out these workshops featuring topics that will help you in life after your first Jamboree.
  • Technical Workshops: Can’t get enough science? Come learn about a techique you’re interested in, or share your experience in a topic you’re familiar with!
  • New Track Workshops: Did you participate in a New Track in iGEM 2015? Interested in the status of the track for 2016? The New Track workshops are open to everyone.

iGEM Community Workshops

Brainstorming Room: Gender Diversity in iGEM

This year, we are introducing a new type of interactive space to the Giant Jamboree: a Brainstorming Room! The focus for 2015 will be Gender Diversity in iGEM. We're asking teams, instructors, and Jamboree participants to help us understand the gender issues that iGEM teams encounter around the world by sharing your ideas and experiences, and to help brainstorm ways that both members of iGEM Headquarters and rest of the iGEM community can help address these issues and promote gender diversity in teams.

This room will remain open throughout the Jamboree and we invite you to stop by to add your thoughts and experiences to our interactive walls. Printed instructions and materials will be provided in the room throughout the weekend. We also invite you to join us for an instructional session on Friday evening to help kick off the brainstorming!

Panel: Women in Science

This workshop will highlight issues and solutions for diversity in the scientific community with a focus on women participating in iGEM. iGEM Fellow Kim de Mora will share how iGEM judging has been directly changed by a study performed by the Paris Bettencourt 2013 team. There will be lightning talks, personal experiences from the panel members, and a discussion session with the audience members.


  • Professor Anne Meyer, TU Delft (Moderator)
  • Aude Bernheim, Institut Pasteur
  • Professor Karmella Haynes, Arizona State University
  • Dr. Kim de Mora, iGEM Foundation
  • Dr. Louise Horsfall, University of Edinburgh
  • Professor Maria Mercedes Roca Sanchez, Tecnológico de Monterrey

College and High School Meet and Greet

The workshop aims to create a pipeline for the next generation of Synthetic Biologists in universities and is a networking session for high school students and collegiate instructors and advisors. High school students can meet with collegiate team instructors and advisors to learn about the synthetic biology communities at different colleges and universities. Collegiate team members are also encouraged to attend to share their experiences with the high school team members.

Hosted by Lambert High School and the iGEM High School Committee

Hall of Fame

Come walk through the history of iGEM in our first ever Hall of Fame exhibit! Learn about the history of the competition and see the previous projects that have won Grand Prize. Highlights will also include other milestones, including specific BioBricks, as well as the start-ups that spun out of iGEM projects. You'll also have a chance to insert yourself in iGEM history through an interactive wall where attendees can sign their names!

Human Practices Showcase

How can we continue to make Human Practices better? This session will invite iGEM teams and advisors to reflect on their experiences with the Human Practices aspects of their projects - what has excited you most about HP? What challenges have you faced in doing your HP work? What are your hopes are for the future of HP in iGEM? The Human Practices committee, representatives from IGEM HQ, and other special guests, will be there to listen to your experiences and respond to your ideas!

Latin America Workshop

A session to discuss the future of the Latin America region. Teams will brainstorm and plan for the new Latin America committee and will learn about “Synbio sin fronteras” from Doctora María Mercedes Roca.

Conflict Resolution

To be a successful researcher, you will need to rely not only your scientific ability, but also on your skill in managing and leading others. This session will focus on the “human” factors that contribute to successful team science. Presented from the perspective of two professionals with extensive experience in conflict management within research university settings, the session will cover:

  • Factors contributing to the success of research team
  • Tips on establishing and maintaining successful research teams
  • Managing conflict constructively in a team science context

The session will include time to address questions from the learners in attendance.

Organized by the Boston University Office of the Ombuds.

Sponsor Workshops

Safeguarding Science and the Future

Meet with the FBI and participate in a discussion on the shared responsibility to protect the life sciences as a member of law enforcement or the synthetic biology community (whether you’re an iGEM’er, scientist, biohacker, investor, business person, or all of the above). Find out what it means to be a guardian of science.
Hosted by the FBI.

Building with Biology: Synbio Engagement at Science Centers

The NSF-funded "Building with Biology” project has created a suite of hands-on activities and conversations to create conversations between scientists and the public about synthetic biology and its implications at 200 science museums around the US. Come try out some of these activities and find out how to get involved!
Hosted by the Museum of Science, Boston.

A Syn Bio Approach to Novel Molecular Bio

Molecular Biology is undergoing a revolution, fueled by the promise of Synthetic Biology. Join us to see emerging technologies that accelerate the design, build, test, and analyze cycle: SureVector Next Generation Cloning System, allowing you to combine standard DNA components with your own gene of interest to build your own customized vector in a 20 minute reaction. QuikChange HT Protein Engineering System, enabling rapid creation of libraries of rationally designed mutants, precisely targeting and mutating from 1 to 20x50 consecutive or discreet AA with up to 120,000 user-defined sequences at a fraction of the cost of a synthetic variant library. Early access to Agilent genome editing products.

See how free SureVector kits are being used by iGEM Teams! Join us to see emerging next gen cloning, protein expression, and genome editing technologies that accelerate the design, build, test, and analyze cycle. Up to 3 Teams will be chosen to speak about their use of SureVector in their projects. For more info, visit Partner Special Offers.
Hosted by Agilent.

Multi-Omics Solutions for Syn Bio Workflows

Synthetic biology requires multi-disciplinary approaches in the discovery of enzymes, pathways and suitable organisms, the building of efficient production strains and their validation, and finally the creation and monitoring of a bioprocess. Agilent’s broad portfolio of solutions and tools in molecular biology, analytical instrumentation, as well as bioinformatics solutions for data analysis and integration enable researchers to overcome challenges in their workflows from discovery, through the engineering cycle, to the final bioprocess.
Hosted by Agilent.

Design and Run Experiments in Automated Labs

At Autodesk, we have been working on tools to accelerate scientific discovery. In this workshop, we will explore visual tools to create, execute and analyze automated lab experiments.
Hosted by Autodesk.

Modeling Biology with SimBiology

Mathematical modeling is an indispensable component of synthetic biology, and the iGEM competition. Modeling and simulation enables synthetic biologists to test the feasibility of their designs prior to fabrication, thus cutting down on trial and error. Every year, iGEM teams successfully use modeling as a tool to guide and optimize the design of their genetic assemblies. In this workshop, we will introduce iGEM teams to SimBiology, a MATLAB-based tool for modeling, simulating and analyzing biological systems. Using an example from synthetic biology, we will demonstrate key features, including:

  • Block diagram model building environment
  • Model exploration methods, including sensitivity analysis
  • Parameter estimation techniques
  • Advanced analysis via custom analysis tasks written in MATLAB

Hosted by MathWorks.

Paving the Way to Graduate School

After iGEM and undergraduate studies, the next step for many on the synthetic biology research career path is to attend graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. This workshop will guide you through the graduate school application process, including how to get great letters of recommendation, how to emphasize research experiences, and how to find the program that’s right for you. The presentation gathers together wisdom from students, professors, and admissions experts to help you to apply to graduate programs in synthetic biology related disciplines. Learn what you need to do to gain acceptance into your dream graduate school! Note: this workshop concentrates on admissions at U.S. research institutions.
Hosted by Synberc.

SynBio at Science Museums

The Museum of Science, Boston, Synberc (the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center), and AAAS (the American Association for the Advancement of Science) are partnering to engage scientists and members of the public in activities and multi-directional conversations about the societal implications of engineering biology at science museums around the U.S. iGEM attendees will test out hands-on activities created through collaborations between museum developers and research scientists and learn about opportunities for participating in “Building With Biology” events that will take place at 200 sites in the summer of 2016.
Hosted by Synberc.

Synthetic Dance-ology

Synthetic Dance-ology is a performance activity that uses dance to engage public audiences about synthetic biology. In this workshop, a professional dancer and a scientist will work with one or more iGEM teams to break down their iGEM projects into parts. We will then use movement as a metaphor to illustrate how those parts (translated into dance movements) are created, remixed, and strung together to build a complete iGEM project (dance routines). Through this method, workshop attendees will learn how their iGEM projects and other research activities can be translated into movement to illustrate synthetic biology concepts and engage diverse audiences. Through movement, participants explore synthetic biology in a unique and fun way that reinforces learning, sparks questioning, and promotes interaction with each other in an informal setting. Everyone is welcome to the workshop, but please submit an abstract if you would like your project to be danced at the Jamboree! Learn more at
Hosted by Synberc.

Taking SynBio Visions to the Next Level

How will SynBio change the world around us, and how can we prepare for it? How do we respond to moral dilemmas and enhance opportunities for the public good?

In order to ensure that developments in science and technology better align with views and values in society, increasingly more efforts are being made to organize societal dialogue. Discussing the potential impact and desirability of synthetic biology is however quite a challenge, since the field is still largely confined to the laboratory. So, how can we facilitate a meaningful dialogue on synthetic biology without too much speculation? Future scenarios have proven a useful tool. Scenarios can visualize a future situation in which synthetic biology is plausibly applied and make us aware of potential moral issues. To this end, the EU-funded project Synenergene – dedicated to responsible research and innovation in synthetic biology – teamed up with iGEM. Eight iGEM teams were funded and assisted by Synenergene to develop a future scenario based on their very own iGEM project.

This workshop will present and discuss the scenarios developed by these iGEM teams. The teams will share their experiences on the developing and using future scenarios as part of their project.

Matti Sonck and Laurens Landeweerd
Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands
Ana Delgado and Kjetil Rommetveit
University of Bergen, Norway
Hosted by Synenergene

After iGEM Workshops

AlumniGEM Mentorship

Come learn about the AlumniGEM Mentorship Pilot Program! We paired twelve mentors with six teams that were mostly either brand new to iGEM or had participated for the first time last year. These teams and mentors will share their experiences, and we will use their comments and yours to expand and improve upon our pilot program for iGEM 2016. We’ll start the session off with a short summary of what the program has accomplished, hear from those who participated in it this year, discuss the future of the mentorship program, and then host an open discussion of iGEM mentorship in general. If you are looking to start or continue a new team, share iGEM mentorship ideas, and give back to the iGEM community, then we highly encourage you to attend!

Career Fair

As part of the iGEM 2015 Giant Jamboree weekend, iGEM is hosting a career fair event on Sunday September 27 to foster relationships within the synthetic biology community. This unique opportunity offers top employers a chance to meet with iGEM participants and discuss career opportunities. This event features a career fair format with the opportunity for employers to address attendees at the start of the event with their company’s message and needs.

Communicating Your Project

General principles in how to craft short, clear, conversational statements, intelligible to non-scientists, about what you do and why it matters. Session consists of an interactive presentation and discussion on interpreting technical material using examples and analogies to illuminate unfamiliar concepts to your audience. The plenary will address problems and solutions in public interactions as well as peer-to-peer communication. Participants will practice clarity in speaking to non-scientists about their work and may be actively engaged in improv exercises or explaining scientific material to lay people.
Organized by the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science

Networking Bingo

After a hugely successful event in 2014, Networking Bingo will return during the Friday evening special events session! If you're looking for an opportunity to meet many fellow iGEMers, team advisors and industry affiliates, you should plan to attend this session. Participants will be given Bingo sheets with questions about iGEM and it will be your mission to get answers for all of them from someone else in the room. You’ll need to find someone from another team that meets each requirement and get them to sign your sheet. Prizes will be awarded!

Startup Showcase

Celebrate the entrepreneurial side of iGEM, at the startup Showcase. If you have ever been curious if your iGEM project could take the next step take this opportunity to hear from synthetic biology entrepreneurs and those who have transitioned from iGEM to industry.

Technical Workshops

Assembly in iGEM

Being able to easily and reliably assemble DNA Parts into Devices is crucial in synthetic biology and particularly for iGEM teams. Over the years, teams have utilized numerous methods to construct their Devices, from BioBricks assembly to Gibson. Come join us for a discussion on DNA assembly in iGEM and learn about how iGEM is thinking about assembly for 2016 and beyond.

CRISPR gene editing: utilization, impact and implications

CRISPR has rapidly become the genome editing tool of choice for many different disciplines within the life sciences. Join genome editing pioneers and experts to discuss how to use CRISPR technology in the lab, its impact on the field, and the most important issues facing our field and our society. Our panelists include:

  • Dr Andy Baltus - Associate Director of Business, Addgene
  • Dr John Doench - Senior Group Leader Broad Institute
  • Dr Kevin Esvelt - Technology Development Fellow, Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering
  • Mr Edward Perello - Chief Business Officer, Desktop Genetics

InterLab Study

The iGEM interlab studies are the largest scientific replication project in all of synthetic biology. They are intended to be both a significant collective scientific project and a fun educational experience. In this workshop, we will discuss the goals and implementation of this year’s interlab study, with the aim of figuring out how to make it even better next year. This workshop invites all teams who participated in the interlab study, are interested in participating in the future, or who are interested in issues around scientific replication to come and share your thoughts!

Mammalian Synthetic Biology at iGEM: Peril and Promise

Undertaking a mammalian synthetic biology project as an iGEM team is not for the faint of heart: there are fewer well-characterized parts available, the assembly steps can be more demanding, and maintaining, transfecting and characterizing mammalian cells is resource-intensive. On the other hand, mammalian synthetic biology is at the cutting edge of biomedical research, allowing iGEM teams to address problems in health and medicine that would be difficult to approach in prokaryotic or single-cell eukaryotic systems. This workshop will begin with a summary of our experiences leading several iGEM teams that have undertaken mammalian synthetic biology projects, followed by an extended period for questions and conversation between those working in the mammalian synbio space and those considering entering it.

Plant Synthetic Biology

Synthetic Biology offers the prospect of reprogrammed Plants for improved and sustainable bioproduction, a technological perspective with enormous potential benefits. Plants are globally cultivated at extremely low cost, harvested on the giga-tonne scale, and routinely used to produce the widest range of biostuffs, from fibres, wood, oils, sugar, fine chemicals, drugs to food. These are exciting times for Plant Synthetic Biology. The technologies enabling genome editing or multigene engineering are opening an avenue of new genome engineering capacities. Moreover, engineering plant genomes is not a difficult task anymore, as new technologies are becoming increasingly efficient and versatile. The development new transformation and vector systems, the availability of open source, low-cost hardware resources and the introduction of Synthetic Biology-inspired modular genetic engineering tools are contributing to democratize Plant Biotechnology. This workshop will provide a forum for discussion of recent technical advances in plant sciences, which promise to speed and democratize botanical engineering. These include (i) the development of a common syntax for plant gene assembly, (ii) fast new chassis for transgenic plant work (iii) rapid transient assay systems and (iv) the description of inspiring examples of plant SynBio projects. Participants at the workshop will also discuss what additional resources might be required to facilitate work with plants in iGEM.

New Track Workshops

Art and Design

Join the Art & Design committee in a workshop to discuss the latest developments in bioart and design. We’ll discuss how this year’s track went, and pinpoint areas for improvement, areas for further development, and areas that succeeded. We’ll also save time to review the Applied Design Prize. One lucky participant will win a numbered edition of the CUT/PASTE/GROW bioart catalogue.

Community Labs

The iGEM Community Labs Track supports projects focused on democratizing the use and practice of synthetic biology. If your project helps new practitioners use synthetic biology tools for traditional ends (education, research, business) or is a new synthetic biology product or tool for users beyond academia and industry, your team should consider attending. During our workshop we'll discuss what was successful this year and continue building a framework to encourage future teams.


We will overview the purpose and logistics of the track. Each Hardware Track committee member will bring a demo of some kind to share at the workshop. Finally, we will hold a panel discussion with all committee members and discuss the importance and role of hardware in advancing the field of synthetic biology.

High School

This workshop is for High School team advisors who want to enrich their students experience. Topics covered will include; judging, how to incorporate iGEM into the curriculum and tips on how to grow a successful program. The workshop will end with a question and answer session.


This workshop aims to discuss the goals and implementation of the iGEM Measurement Track. Great measurement gives us a clear window into the systems we are engineering, while poor measurements lead to spurious results, lack of reproducibility and an inability to build on past work. Ultimately, if we are to know whether our genetic parts are performing as we would expect, if our protocols are delivering as they should, and our equipment isn’t malfunctioning, we need methods of clear, quantitative, universal measurements of all of the relevant output of our methods and biological systems. In short: how do you know if you’ve built what you hope you’ve built?This workshop is a chance for iGEMers passionate about these problems and opportunities to get together and share their experiences, solutions, problems and thoughts for the future. How can we drive the measurement of synthetic biology forward, both at iGEM and in the field as a whole? Come and share your thoughts.


Building better tools: an retrospective and way forward for iGEM software

Whether it is through the dedicated software track, or from wetlab teams building their own tools, each year the jamboree sees new software tools being developed. The iGEM software committee has been discussing major reforms to the way that software tools are developed, hosted and iterated upon within, and beyond, iGEM. We are also considering ways to get “traditional software developers” (non-biologists) to join the competition in future years. We invite all interested parties to join an open discussion to review iGEM software policy, and to enhance our ability to build better tools for our field.