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Tag archives for iGEM

Less Bad vs. Good

Changing our energy infrastructure from one that contributes to climate change to one that is renewable and sustainable poses enormous challenges technically, politically, socially, and economically. There isn’t going to be a single solution, but a combination of technological changes, policy changes, efficiency gains, and adaptations to local environments will likely go a long way…

Designer Bacteria

Synthetic biologists work on designing living cells, but engineered bacteria don’t usually come up when you think of “designer” things. This year however, a synthetic biology design is up for a Brit Insurance Design of the Year award, up against the Lanvin Spring collection, Angry Birds, and Rock Band 3! Designers Daisy Ginsberg and James…

Dispatches from the Future

It’s been a few weeks since the iGEM jamboree, a whirlwind, completely exhausting weekend of student synthetic biology projects. This tweet from Robin Sloan from the #igem2010 stream is a pretty good way to sum up the weekend: Tweets tagged #igem2010 right now read like dispatches from the future. (It’s the big student synthetic biology…

iGEM on YouTube

iGEM students are nothing if not creative, fun, and super nerdy. Here is a taste of some of the awesome videos being made by this year’s crop, enjoy! Cambridge, with a catchy song about new techniques for joining pieces of DNA together: (via LabRat) Hong Kong University’s Inception trailer: TU Delft, finding science in pop…

Bacterial Lightbulb

This year’s Cambridge iGEM team has made a tiny, wireless lightbulb filled with bioluminescent bacteria! There are two main ways of engineering luminescence in E. coli (I assume these are E. coli, correct me if I’m wrong!). One is to express the luciferase gene from fireflies, which adds ATP and oxygen to the chemical luciferin,…

Terraforming

Life transforms environments, creating ecosystems where there was once only rocks. The evolution of photosynthetic bacteria billions of years ago created the atmosphere we have today, paving the way for the evolution of larger, oxygen-breathing organisms. We humans obviously transform our environment in countless ways, but can we also engineer barren environments to be hospitable…

Plant Transformation

Sometimes among all of the tedious protocols and mundane inconclusive data, I forget that I’m doing something amazing and incredibly powerful. Almost all my experiments require altering a living organism to do my bidding–to hold onto and replicate a piece of DNA that I’m interested in or to produce an enzyme that I want a…

Love of Legos

A recent survey of 3,000 people worldwide found what many have known all along–that Legos are the best toy ever made. For synthetic biologists, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise–Legos are at the heart of the concepts underlying the basics of synthetic biology. Legos are a favorite analogy for BioBricks, the DNA parts…

It turns out that my wonderful iGEM students, besides being brilliant scientists, are also excellent, hilarious actors. Please enjoy their Jersey Shore inspired video about molecular cloning:

Teaching Synthetic Biology

I recently found this fascinating (relatively) old review article (open access) by awesome MIT professor Natalie Kuldell about teaching synthetic biology. Synthetic biology has integrated teaching and learning with the development of the field since basically the beginning of the field, with students contributing to new technologies through iGEM and academic lab-based courses. By actively…