Good for the world!
"Safe, responsible and good for the world"
Human practice is aimed at provoking careful thoughts about whether ‘the work is safe, responsible and good for the world’. Bearing that thought in mind, we have taken our project back to the city we live, and came up with new ideas to improve our project.
A visit to the city sewage plant
Our project focuses on the construction of a new kind of cellular memory machine which is capable of recording the changes of a signal in an extended time period. This aspect of our memory machine can be extremely useful in monitoring the chemical changes in the environment. So we contacted one of the biggest sewage plants in Shanghai—Xinchu sewage plant and paid a visit there.
During the visit, we talked with the workers in the plant, who told us the limitation of the current monitoring and expressed his expection of our memory devices.
We also learnt a lot about the basic process of sewage processing. We are surprised to find out that biological fermentation plays an important role in sewage processing. Actually, the decrease of COD value of the sewage is mainly caused by the consumption of the microbes in it. And the sewage plant has specially designed an Ultraviolet disinfection tank to get rid of most of the microbes just before the sewage is ready to be discharged into Huangpu River.
At the end of our visit, we took some samples from the biochemical reaction pool. Back to the laboratory, we used the samples to find out more possibilities of our engineered bacteria.
With both the advices and the experiment we conducted back at our laboratory, we came up with a lot of ideas that can be integrated into our project. We will talk about it in detail at the ‘hp-integrated’ page.
E-mailing the experts in biological synthesis
We have also laid eyes on the field of biological synthesis, one of the most dynamic fields among all the application of genetically engineered microbes.
We e-mailed two researchers from Shanghai institute of organic chemistry (SIOC) to learn about the current development of biological synthesis
From the conversation, we have also gained a lot.
- Currently, the type of substances that can be monitored in a working fermentation tank is limited to simple molecules like oxygen and carbon dioxide. The dynamic monitoring of more complicated compound like the target protein and its intermediate product is not available in most cases. That may be a problem our memory device can solve.
- The infection of different bacteria in the fermentation tank can be a serious problem. If we want to monitor the substance directly inside the fermentation tank, special attention must be paid to control the spread of the engineered E. coli. A suicide gene triggered by condensed bacteria population may be a good choice
Applications in daily life
What can a tiny sequential memory machine do in our daily life? That is also a question we are interested in. So, we advertised on our Wechat platform to collect ideas from the public. We got about three hundred clicks in a couple of hours.
The gif file on the left is the short video of the paper model we used to explain our circuit to the public. We posted the short video in our Wechat article.
We got ideas like ‘building a memo in sequential order, so that things can be done properly’. The ideas are quite crazy and may not be fulfilled by our project, but we do see an affection for an easy check of all the collected data via cellphone apps. If we want to popularize our memory device among the public, trying to digitalize the result can be a good start.
At the same time, we are also involved in lively conversations both within the iGEM community and the more diverse world beyond
At the school club fair
The club fair of our university is very famous for its diversity and its large scale. To get more new ideas about our work from people with different majors, we brought our project to the club fair. One of our team members dressed up as a cute E. coli to interact with visitors.The conversations were far more thought-provoking than we had expected. Not only did we receive admiration for delivering a new way to look at biology research, we also received challenges and questions for the attempt to ‘play the role of god’. The questions made us think more critically about our work and it remind us never to take it for granted that life is there to be programmed. At the end of the activity, we all gained a lot. We also recruited about 20 candidates for the iGEM team next year and have a lot more people to visit our Wechat platform.
The university biology summer camp
The ideas of younger biological researchers are also one of our considerations.We held a lecture to the students attending our biology summer camp BIOS together with another team from our university Fudan. We felt a lot of passion and energy during the communication. Here are the pictures showing students listening to the speaker carefully.
A primary school in Anhui province, China
Ideas from future potential researchers should also be valued.During the summer holiday, One of our team members went to teach several biology classes in a primary school in Huoqiu, Anhui province. The lessons involve creative ideas he got in his iGEM experience.Children are quick acceptors of the idea of synthetic biology. Most of them are thrilled at the pictures of giving different functions to the tiny bacteria in a way that highly resembles playing with brick toys. The picture here documented the moment the student looking curiously at the result of the experiment.
As a active participant of iGEM conferences
our team is an active participant of iGEM conferences. We get inspiration, friendship and precious memory from these conferences.
2017 5.19-5.21 BUDS
At the the initiate of our team, we attend the conference named BUDS held by Nanjing university, where we talked about the problems we may face when building up an iGEM team. These talks proved to be very useful in the following long course of the competition.
2017 7.30-8.3 the 5th Asia-pacific iGEM conference
Not long after we have started the main part of our experiment, we attend the 5th Asian-pacific iGEM conference held by NCTU, where we talked about our struggling with the experiment result with all the other teams. It is during the presentation on this conference that we have the idea to look into the problem of how to make a good presentation.
2017 8.19 FABO Open Night
Among all the conferences, this one is the most unique one. Instead of sitting inside a conference room, we talked about our project outside in an open square. The audience includes both iGEMers and local residents, making it full of surprise and fun.
2017 8.27-8.31 CCiC
The CCiC held by FAFU gave us an opportunity to show our project in an mature and completed way. We brought our brick toy to the conference, had it tested and got the feedbacks. We met the team from Peking university, who also focuses on recombinase. We talked and get some very useful information from them.