Team:Edinburgh UG/HP/Silver

Silver Criteria Human Practices

Accessibility - In Discovering the Interdiciplinarity of Synthetic Biology

As a foundational project and a biological toolkit, SMORE needs to be accessible to the scientific community for it to achieve real-life significance. Therefore, we looked into the development process of SMORE itself to understand how people would use it in the future.

The development of SMORE encompassed a diversity of knowledge and expertise from multiple disciplines: biology in the concept, engineering in the cell sorter, and mathematics in the modelling. We had to step beyond our own discipline and learn from others. Therefore, the users may also need interdisciplinary knowledge and skills to use SMORE. This kindled a thought: how does interdiciplinarity benefit research in synthetic biology? What are some hurdles in the integration of knowledge and expertise?

To explore interdiciplinarity in synthetic biology, we examined an accessible synthetic biology community: iGEM itself, which represents a natural and open research environment. We conducted a skill exchange survey with our collaborators to investigate difficulties to interdisciplinary cooperation. We have highlighted the importance of technical language in interdisciplinary collaboration. Also, with reference to well-established interdiciplinarity studies, we devised an alternative and straightforward framework to measure interdiciplinarity in iGEM teams. The lack of strong correlation between interdiciplinarity of teams and achievements in iGEM was thought-provoking. We proposed further hypotheses and integrated this finding into the improvement of accessibility of SMORE, as a step to promote interdisciplinary work.

Click here to find out more about our HP Gold Criteria: Accesibility - The Integration of Interdisciplinarity in Synthetic Biology

Click here to find out more about Interdisciplinarity: skill exchange survey & interdisciplinarity measurement.