Team:UCL London/Engagement




Public Engagements

iGEM is not just about the lab work, but it is also about interaction with others, what sense does it make for one to be in labs all the time but for no one to know what they're doing or what their work is about? Public engagement forms a significant part of our work. As part of our engagement, we have engaged in multiple activities from roaming the streets of London to having stalls at important fairs and conferences. The real advantage of this is to make sure that everybody in the world around us knows and understands that projects such as ours exist and to give them an insight into the our efforts and ambitions.

Public Engagement 1 - The Streets

Thursday 26th August

Today we had the opportunity to hit the streets of London and really get an insight glimpse of what the public's perception of such projects and such technology was. We planned our route in such a way that we limited the bias in our engagement and reached out to people of all ages and of all disciplines. We started off at UCL itself, before heading over to SOAS, School of Oriental and African Studies. The people their tend to be more open minded and it was great to get their opinions. Following that, we visited the British Museum, a taxi cabin, a Church in Charing Cross and so overall, we interviewed many individuals ranging from tourists, worshipers, taxi drivers etc.

Some of the interviews have been included in the link below, and to participate in such an event where we roamed the streets of London asking people's views on synthetic biology and gene manipulation was very insightful. We understand its importance as a technique to help bridge the relationship between science and the public, especially when ethics is a major constituent of scientific developments.

Public Engagement 2 - University of London Open Day


Thursday 14th September

The University of London Undergraduate Open Days are organised by The Careers Group and provide a great opportunity for prospective students to gain an insight into what it would be like to study at one of the many institutes and colleges that make up the University of London. With that in mind, we understood the importance of making use of this great opportunity and so we managed to put together a stall.

Public Engagement 3 - University College London Freshers' Fayre

Thursday 3th September - Friday 1st October

Today was the long awaited UCL Annual Freshers Fayre, and for the first time, iGEM had their very own stall! It was quite a tough and long day especially since we also had the start of our first ever iGEM fermentation session which was instrumental in determining the success of our work! So we worked on a rota with us constantly shifting between the lab and stall. Nevertheless, it was our opportunity both to let the freshers know about us and our aims, but also it served as a platform to recruit new junior iGEMers for next summer's project. We managed to get more than 120+ to sign up which was a truly amazing figure especially when we were competing against hundreds of other well established societies.

Point being, we really want to help mentor and train the new recruits both academically and mentally and to ensure that they are 100% prepared for this project and to enable them to really work to the fullest of their potential. It was interesting speaking with various people about synthetic biology and introducing them to this concept which to most was new, but the majority were really intrigued at the potential of such projects, which is why we generated so much interest.

Onion Article


October 15th

UCL Union is the representative body for the students of University College London. The Union (founded 1893) is run by students for students. It gives students a great chance to advertise and tell students around campus what they're getting up to, and so thanks to the efforts of Mariam we managed to secure a 150 word place in next term's edition. The article to be posted will be as follows;

Team Hypoxon: a cog in the International Genetically Engineered Machine

Students and lecturers from UCL’s biochemical engineering department have teamed up with biologists, biochemists, science journalists and artists to put forward a potentially gold-winning project to this year’s International Genetically Engineered Machine iGEM) competition.

iGEM is organised by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology each year to promote the emerging cross- disciplinary field of synthetic biology. Throughout the summer, we have been working on a project attempting to create ‘independent’, ‘self-triggering’ cells – an idea that promises to improve the production of pharmaceuticals greatly.

Teams also get invited to a Jamboree held in Boston in November, to resent their work, and to meet and mingle with future associates of the synthetic biology community. Here we will have the opportunity to show off our masterpiece ‘Hypoxon’– and without doubt make UCL proud!

Look out UCLers, here we come.



Late October

After a lot of effort, we have managed to organise a debate about Synthetic Biology and will be hosted by UCL's Debating Society. This will take place some time towards the end of October and will be a great chance for us to really get to grips with the ethical side of our project. This is bound to raise many issues and it'll be interseting to see how we got about fighting back!

The main issues that will be discussed are:

1. Is Synthetic Biology going to collapse like GMO's did in the 1990's

2. What solutions can Synthetic biology bring to the ordinary individual

3. How do you justify such technology

Pi Article


In one final push to spread the word, "Synthetic Biology" that is, we invited Henry Stanley who is one of the writers at University College London's biggest newsletter. He interviewed us about iGEM and synthetic biology. The article will be published both online and in paper, we will keep you posted;

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