Revision as of 00:28, 28 October 2010 by Pjwu (Talk | contribs)


Spring Workshop

The iGEM spring workshop was organized by iGEM headquarters on May 29-30. These workshops were organized in many different continents including Europe, North America and Asia. This year, the Canadian workshop was organized at the University of Calgary. The main purpose of the iGEM workshop was to provide new iGEM students with background about synthetic biology and iGEM in general. There were workshops that covered general concepts ranging from synthetic biology to biobricks, wiki design, using the registry of standard parts, submitting parts and the iGEM Jamboree.

Speakers included:

Tom Knight

One of the founders of synthetic biology, Tom Knight was responsible for designing the standard BioBrick system and co-pioneering the standard digestion and ligation cloning method (also known as BioBrick cloning method) that is used widely in synthetic biology and iGEM. Tom Knight presented a little bit of history of iGEM and the pioneering of standard biological parts that came about from a group of engineers, including himself and Drew Endy. Tom Knight also gave an overview of the BioBrick cloning method, including some tips and tricks that he had encountered over the years that he has been involved in the field of synthetic biology.

Megan Lizarazo

Megan Lizarazo is the iGEM Research Technician. She handles most of the shipping and receiving of parts, as well as communicating with and updating all the teams about iGEM related events. During the workshop Megan provided valuable information about how to send DNA parts to the registry.

Barry Canton

Barry Canton works in the Drew Endy Lab. He is a previous iGEM alumni. Barry Canton talked about Wiki creation, uploading parts information, and also taught us about different tips and tricks regarding the wiki. This presentation also included building a wiki for Team:Example which ended up looking quite... interesting, thanks to the contributions of every member there.

Randy Retberg

Randy Retberg is the director of iGEM competition. He is primarily an engineer who has worked for well-known companies such as Sun, IBM, etc. Randy Retberg presented on the general notion of synthetic biology and iGEM. He also talked about future of iGEM and synthetic biology.

Lethbridge Conference


On June 26th and 27th, Alberta Innovates Technology Futures had invited us to attend their student workshop in Lethbridge, Alberta. Throughout the weekend we were given insight on several areas of our iGEM project. These included marketing, media relations, presentation skills and project ideas and troubleshooting.

Presenters included:

Joey Hundert – Marketing/Sponsorship

The first guest speaker at Lethbridge was Joey Hundert. Joey was an amazing resource because of his expertise in entrepreneurship specifically on the field of sustainable development. He broadened our understanding on approaching companies for sponsorship, especially when marketing to companies about the new and innovative field of synthetic biology. This was incredibly useful for our group as none of the undergraduates had prior experiences with marketing and sponsorship.

Erin Prefontaine and Bob Cooney - Painless Publicity

The next presentation was a joint presentation by Erin and Bob. Erin is the Communication Officer of Alberta Innovates Technology Futures, and Bob is the Communications Officer of the University of Lethbridge. They offered an insightful presentation on the precautions necessary when speaking to the media. They provided us with advices on how to approach the media while remaining careful with the choice of our words. Our aim is not to scare the public, but to show them why we're are doing what we are doing and what the benefits to the public are, from our findings. They also suggested we contact Grady Simmons, who is involved with the media relations for the University of Calgary.

Anne Marie Downey - Communication

On June 28th, our first speaker was Anne Marie Downey. She was a gracious, talented guest speaker who gave us constructive ideas regarding presentation skills. Some of the keypoints of the presentation were communication skills, developing the content in PowerPoints, the purpose of using visuals and managing the response of the audience. During her presentation, every team practiced their short “Elevator Pitch” to explain their project to the general public while the audience analyzed and suggested ways to improve this Elevator Pitch of the projects. Her presentation was extremely beneficial for the team, which was evident in the improvement of our own presentations. We did short summary descriptions of our project as we moved from one member to the other, and received constructive feedback from Anne Marie and also other students of the University of Lethbridge and the University of Alberta. We were also given a “Communication That Works” booklet to help us in the future with Presentation Skills.

Andrew Hessel

Andrew Hessel was the iGEM Ambassador at MIT and currently the Co-Chair of Bioinformatics and Biotechnology at Singularity University. He was the last presenter of the day, but just as useful as the other speaker sessions we had. He gave us suggestions on various subjects: Wet lab, marketing and promotion to name a few. He strongly suggested that we approach Oil Sands Companies for sponsorship.



The Alberta Genetically Engineered Machines competition (aGEM) is an Alberta-wide competition held every year since 2007. During aGEM, the Alberta teams (Universities of Calgary, Alberta, and Lethbridge) present their projects in front of respected and qualified judges who provide feedback and meet the teams one-on-one to suggest future improvement before iGEM comes around. This year, team Calgary met with ex-iGEMer Justin Pahara and was helped with their presentation in general. Other judges such as Andrew Hessel also provided valuable feedback on the team’s website, presentation and future direction. Thank you Alberta Innovates Technology Futures, for such a great opportunity.