We had a very successful year which would not have been possible without the support of so many dedicated people. We would like to take the chance to thank these people here for all of their help. It really means a lot to us.
Team recruitment was started in February and bi-weekly meetings were held in March to
flesh out the 2017 project idea. By the end of March, we had decided to continue working on the project
from the previous year: Cloning the cellulose degradation pathway into E. coli for efficient conversion of
wood waste to glucose, then production of ethanol by yeast.
iGEM elections for team leads were held in April. We elected the president and 5 team leads: Wet Lab,
Dry Lab, Web Design, Fundraising and Human Practices. Our team was 24 undergraduate students at the
beginning of April. Over the course of April and May we developed our project, and the goals we wanted
to complete before the Jamboree.
Starting in June we began mining the synthetic metagenomic library for enzymes to send for synthesis. In June we also started building the metagenomic cosmid library which
continued, with much troubleshooting, until the end of October. Cloning began immediately after our
first IDT shipment arrived, and assay development started early September. This continued into late
In June we also started contacting people for our science communication project. We wanted to ensure
that our science project would be understood by the most people possible. Human practices finished all interviews by early October.
Our project was developed by undergraduate students at Dalhousie University with the help of the following people.
Drs. Craig McCormick, John Rohde, and Lois Murray helped form and direct the project from the
Drs. McCormick and Rohde provided their lab and many reagents to get us started.
Dr. Rohde provided presentation coaching and formed a journal club, separate to the Think of the PLoSibilities blog.
Dr. Murray arranged our own iGEM laboratory space during the summer.
Shubenacadie Wildlife Park provided the porcupine fecal samples and diet data sheets.
Drs. Trevor Charles, Juigun Cheng, and John Hiel (University of Waterloo) welcomed us
into their lab and taught us how to create a cosmid library for functional metagenomics. Dr. Charles also
provided us with E.coli strain HB101, and cosmid pJC8.
Dr. Melanie Dobson provided metagenomic library mentorship and support.
Dr. Jason Leblanc gave us access to his pulse-field gel electrophoresis equipment and offered instruction and supervision during our first attempt.
Members of the team that worked on this were Mackenzie Thornbury with the help of Bess Pearson, Matt Curry, Landon Getz, and Nicholas Boudreau.
Cloning and Assay Development
Patrick Slaine provided mentorship on primer design, general cloning and assay development.
Jamie Cook provided mentorship in assay development.
Emma Finlayson-Trick provided general cloning tips and laboratory supervision.
Landon Getz provided general cloning tips and laboratory supervision.
Hallam Lab (University of British Columbia) provided substrates and guidance for the enzymatic fluorophore assay.
Members of the team that worked on this were Jacob Sicheri, Mariam El-Aghil, Caroline Guinard, David Mahoney, Matt Curry, Nicholas Boudreau, and Mackenzie Thornbury.
Dr. Morgan Langille and Dr. André Comeau of the Integrated Microbiome Resource at Dalhousie
University for the free metagenomic sequencing of the porcupine. Drs. Langille and Comeau were on-
hand whenever we needed analysis support or help.
Landon Getz for writing the pipeline we used to pull out novel cellulose-degrading enzymes from the
Nicholas Boudreau, Jacob Sicheri, and Matt Curry worked on carrying out the pipeline.
Emma Finlayson-Trick provided dedicated mentorship to the human practices team. Emma helped steer
our ideas and kept us in-check for deadlines, as well as provided creative solutions to the ideas we
wanted to investigate. Emma also created our blog: “Think of the PLOSibilities” in
collaboration with PLoS journals to provide lay summaries of scientific articles.
Team members that worked on Human Practices were Angela Tsai, Nicholas Boudreau, Francis Routeledge, and Mackenzie Thornbury.
Jennifer Baechler from Shad Valley facilitated our DNA extraction workshop.
Abbey Martin from Dalhousie SuperNova Camps included us in their programming.
Paul Briggs and Heidi MacKinnon gave us access to the Biochemistry teaching labs at Dalhousie University for Shad Valley
and SuperNova workshops.
Ryan Jameson and Steve Thurbide from the Discovery Centre provided us the opportunity to lead a workshop in their Innovation Lab.
The Dalhousie Microbiology and Immunology Department provided us a space at Dalhousie Open House to spread the word of iGEM to prospective Dalhousie Students.
David Lloyd of FREDsense agreed to an interview and gave us priceless advice for improving our
Dr. Eddy Rubin agreed to an interview and provided insight into the future of metagenomics and DNA
Port Hawkesbury Paper agreed to an interview and provided insight into the pulp and paper industry.
Scott Doncaster and Grant MacKenzie of BioVectra invited us to their factory and provided a tour.
Bob MacDonald of Quirks and Quarks agreed to an interview on Science Communication.
Science Sam (Samantha Yammine) of University of Toronto agreed to an interview and gave her
opinions on how science communication can become better.
Dan Falk agreed to an interview and gave us insight on his take on science communication.
Dr. Catherine Reeves agreed to an interview and gave her professional opinion on science
Dr. Steven Snobelen agreed to an interview, and gave us advice on how to properly set up our science communication survey.
Dalhousie University Office of Advancement helped us create a successful crowdfunding campaign.
Molly Marcott used her experience in management to bring
fundraising to new heights.
Dr. Craig McCormick used his many connections and knowledge of fundraising to mentor us.
Landon Getz hosted workshops on web design and provided help whenever we got stuck.
Jacob Nearing provided his mentorship on web design.
Serena Drouillard spent hours making and coding the website.
Matt Curry, Jacob Sicheri, Mackenzie Thornbury, and Emma Finlayson-Trick provided peripheral help on uploading content to the wiki.
Dr. Craig McCormick kept track of the books.
Drs. Craig McCormick, David Anderson, and Andrew Makrigiannis signed off on a special purposes
account for Dalhousie iGEM.
The Industry Liaison and Innovation office at Dalhousie University provided us with industry
contacts, helped us apply to the Springboard Grant, and provided advice on intellectual property.
Charmine Gaudet and Kristin Tweel of Genome Atlantic put us in connection with local biotech
companies and wrote a blog about our team to get our name out there!
Logo Designs by Abdullah Al-Khaledi.
Recruitment: Dr. McCormick, Dr. Zhenyu Cheng, Patrick Slaine, Landon Getz, and Emma Finlayson-Trick
read over applications and chose a strong team.
The Department of Microbiology and Immunology for providing continuous support.
Hirtle Promotions made our amazing t-shirts!
Dr. Richard Singer provided us with mentorship on how to write good lay summaries.