Team:TU Dresden/HP/Silver

Out you go

March for Science

22 April 2017


Group Picture at March for Science
Figure 1: Our Team at the March for Science

Science influences very different aspects of our daily life. It is critical to health, economics, food security, and safety. Being part of an iGEM team brings us even closer in touch with what it means to be a scientist and how important the acknowledgement from public policy and society is for our work.

To celebrate and strengthen the role of science in policy making, our iGEM team joined the March for Science in Dresden on April 22, 2017. The initial “Scientists March on Washington” was supported by a series of marches in more than 600 other cities all around the globe. The main goals of the march were to support evidence-based policy making, government funded research and transparency in science.

As young scientists, we walked through the baroque city center of Dresden to demonstrate what value scientific research has for our community and that scientifically proven facts should be taken more seriously in political decisions. The acceptance of the consensus on climate change and evolution has also been one of our major concerns which is why we put a lot of effort into our iGEM goes green initiative. Taken together it has been a remarkable experience to show solidarity with the world wide scientific community and to stand up for our values and interests - We marched forward with Science.

Team TU Dresden with posters for March for Science. March for Science in Dresden

Find more information here:, 09.09.2017, 09.09.2017

Green Expertise

iGEM goes green

Go green logo
While planning our iGEM project, we thought that only considering environmental implications of our project was not enough. We decided that we want to take responsibility for the environmental impact of our whole project from our lab work to our flights to Boston. Therefore, we started the “iGEM goes green” initiative aiming for a more sustainable iGEM competition and research in general. With iGEM goes green we want to share the ecological improvements of our work and encourage as many teams and research groups as possible to get involved.

We spent a lot of time investigating options and possibilities for planting trees, getting familiar with CO2 compensation as well as looking for collaboration partners and support. We got in contact with some experts in the field of sustainability and exchanged views with the existing community in order to learn how to track our green house gas (GHG) emissions, how to reduce them and how to share our results with the world:

Sustainability experts

Toni Kiel

Founder of plant values, a business consultancy for sustainable company development

Toni Kiel
When we decided to calculate the carbon footprint of our lab work, we soon realized that we would need some help and expertise. Therefore, we got in contact with Toni Kiel, a business consultant for sustainability. Since he has a bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biotechnology he was keen on supporting our idea from the very beginning. In our first meeting, he introduced a concept for structuring the tracking of our emissions to us. He accompanied the development of our calculation tool for weeks and provided us with helpful sources and professional advice. Furthermore, he helped us to establish contacts to further experts. Thanks to his advice and support we could actually calculate the GHG emission of our lab work and develop "The iGEM goes green GHG Emissions Calculator" that we provide to the iGEM community as well as to scientists all over the world.

Stephan Schöps and Dr. Ines Herr

Dept. Environmental Management/ Environmental Coordination of the TU Dresden

Stephan Schoeps
At the beginning iGEM goes green, we had no idea about what is needed to calculate our carbon footprint. In a discussion with experts from the Environmental Management of our university, details and the huge effort that is connected to our aim were revealed. They provided us with contact information and checked whether general energy consumption data of the biology building, and our lab were available (unfortunately this was not the case). Especially in the beginning, they supported us to define our aims in the initiative. Later, they were always available as contact persons. In return, they received our collected data about energy consumption of biological laboratories.

Nicole Kelesoglu

Editor and blogger of Labconscious, an open resource website for scientists in green lab initiatives

Kerstin Hermuth-Kleinschmidt

While researching into sustainable lab work we discovered that there is already a community that shares our concern: Labconsious, an open resource supporting researchers using green lab initiatives to improve efficiency and reduce the environmental footprint of bench science supported by New England Biolabs (NEB). We followed the blog on Labconscious with interest and contacted Nicole, the editor of this webpage. She kindly offered us to publish two blog posts on her website to extend our outreach and helped us to share our “Green your lab” poster via Labconscious.

We are looking forward to meeting Nicole after the Giant Jamboree at the NEB Campus in Boston. She will interview our team and publish the story of iGEM goes green in one of her blog posts. Furthermore, the iGEM goes green initiative will be the content of an episode of NEB TV.

Dr. Kerstin Hermuth-Kleinschmidt

Founder of NIUB-Nachhaltigkeitsberatung - sustainability consulting for companies in life sciences with a focus on sustainable lab work

Kerstin Hermuth-Kleinschmidt
Thanks to Labconscious, Dr. Kerstin Hermuth-Kleinschmidt took notice of our initiative and contacted us. We invited her to a telephone conference to exchange our mutual experiences. She appreciated our work and gave us a lot of helpful input. With her large knowledge and experience in the field of sustainable lab work, we were able to extend our GoGreenGuide. Furthermore, she will publish an article about our initiative and use some of the materials that we have created for her own work.

Dr.-Ing. Annina Gritzki

Member of the interdisciplinary CAMPER project of TU Dresden, a project to analyze energy consumptions on campus and find ways to increase energy efficiency

While searching for ways to monitor our energy consumption of lab devices, we got in contact with Annina Gritzki, who seemed to be the best contact person regarding this topic. She lent us amperemeter plugs and we directly started checking the energy consumption of centrifuge and other devices. With an app, the consumption over time was monitorable which was extremely helpful for our Calculation Tool and to get an idea of our energy consumption. Furthermore, Ms Gritzki, having knowledge from similar experiments in (non-biological) labs, revised our calculator tool and gave useful suggestions for improvement.

Dr. Ulrich Pietzarka

Curator of the Forstbotanical Garden Tharandt, Dresden University of Technology

When searching for ways and places where to plant a tree, we came across the forstbotanical garden of our university. They do not just collect trees from all over the world, they also consider them to be an important part of global carbon and water cycles. Dr. Ulrich Pietzarka is interested in research of drought-resistant plants and offered us to plant a bur oak, Quercus macrocarpa, which is drought and fire resistant itself. We were given a guided tour through the forstpark and support for planting. We are glad that we decided to choose their offer, our payment of 100 € is perfectly invested into the nurture of our tree.

Wilderness International

A foundation that aims at the world-wide preservation of unique wilderness areas for future generations

We cooperated with Wilderness International an environmental foundation located in Dresden to compensate for our GHG emissions. For this purpose, we donated the prize money we won in a photo contest hosted by New England Biolabs. These EUR 500 will guarantee a long-term nature conservation of another 640 m2 temperate rainforest in Canada that is endangered by the wood and mining industry. According to Wilderness International every square meter compensates for 104,79 kg CO2, so with our donation we compensate for more than 67 tons of CO2. Furthermore, they offered us to convert The iGEM Goes Green GHG Emissions Calculator into an online tool and publish it on their homepage.

See how all the feedback and expert talks have influenced our project design on our Integrated Human Practices page.

Safety Expertise

Safety talk
Legal assistant Ms K. Michalk from the Institute for Technological and Environmental Law at TU Dresden and team member Lydia Kirsche
As our team aims at applying encapsulated bacteria in facilities other than our laboratories we had to consider the biological safety of our project. Therefore, we met with the legal assistant Ms K. Michalk from the Institute for Technological and Environmental Law at TU Dresden. She informed us about the procedure during the safety evaluation of a biological project and what is needed to make our Peptidosomes with the encapsulated biosensor applicable in e.g. a sewage treatment plant. According to her provisional assessment, the encapsulation of the biosensor into Peptidosomes represents a huge improvement in contrast to a biosensor that is placed on the market without further immobilization. She estimates this additional safety measure as pivotal for the potential prospective approval for a placement on the market. However, she also recommends the installation of further safety levels into our proposed portable system described here. Hereby, so-called indestructible materials could be suitable, preventing bacteria from escaping the system.

Long Night of Sciences

16 June 2017


As part of giving back to the community, we hosted a booth at the Long Night of Sciences, an annually event taking place in many cities throughout Germany. We focused on introducing iGEM and synthetic biology to the public in Dresden. We tried to increase awareness of the beauty and ethics behind the things we do. To keep all ages entertained, we had Legos and gave instructions to kids on how to build BioBricks. Different colors of big bricks corresponded to different genes, like fluorescent proteins, smaller bricks corresponded to different promoters and so on.

We also offered strawberry DNA extraction, where kids could extract DNA by mashing them with their hands in bag of soap and then extracting the DNA in cold ethanol. As the children were entertained with their Legos and strawberry pounding, we presented our project in synthetic biology to their parents and all the visitors of the Long Night of Sciences. People were introduced to the latest research in biotechnology and expressed their deep interest in BioBricks and synthetic biology in general. At the end of the day, successful young scientists were able to take home a tube of strawberry DNA and parents were left in awe of newly acquired kids' skills.

Some impressions:


Public Engagement

To spread the word about synthetic biology and our project EncaBcillus, one of our team members went to her former school, the Rudolf-Hildebrand-Schule in Markkleeberg (a town close to Leipzig). Here she presented the concept of synthetic biology and introduced our project idea to senior year students participating in the course of Biotechnology. After the presentation, there was time for an additional question and answer session to enable an exchange of ideas and further discussion about the topic.

Press Coverage

Articles on our team, our project and iGEM goes green have been published in various newspapers, newsletters and blogs: