You may have read our previous article that explained how Don Whitley Scientific Limited became involved in sponsoring a team from The University of Nottingham that have entered The International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Foundation competition.
iGEM is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to education and competition, the advancement of synthetic biology, and the development of an open community and collaboration. iGEM runs the iGEM Competition – an international team competition made up of predominantly undergraduate students interested in the field of synthetic biology.
We spoke to another member of the team – Fatima Taha (pictured left) – to find out more about what the competition means to her and how she believes it might help in her future career. Fatima is a 3rd year Human Genetics student and we asked her:
What role do you play in the iGEM team? I have 3 roles really: I’m part of the wet lab team, part of the fundraising team, and also team leader – so the person to go to if there are any problems or issues that require bringing to the attention of the supervisors.
Have you used the Whitley Workstation and what did you use it for? I use the Whitley Anaerobic Workstation all the time. We grow up Clostridium difficile and take time points, pick colonies, etc inside the workstation. The cabinet works really well for us.
What do you think you will get out of the competition personally?
I was taking a gap year and worked for a year in a laboratory at a hospital. I fell in love with the hands-on process in that lab and decided I really want to continue working in the research sector – in a clinical application or in academia.
It’s more than just a synthetic biology competition – there’s so much more to it. We are encouraged to collaborate with other teams and with other people generally. It’s about getting the word out there. I enjoy the whole exercise of looking to engage with people about synthetic biology; getting involved with schools on the subject.
I’m really enjoying the communications side of the whole project and have written four articles for a university website and student magazine. The multi-disciplinary teams involved have such different strengths and weaknesses but it all comes together – and that’s fascinating. Going forward I am sure this whole process will have enhanced my own skill set.
What are you most looking forward to about going to Boston?
Meeting the other teams and seeing what they are doing. We have been working on our project for so long now, I’m excited to see what the others have been doing.
Don Whitley Scientific is proud to help sponsor some of the students to attend the finale in Boston, which we hope will provide the additional networking, team-building and general interaction to help the students in their future careers. We wish Fatima and the team the very best of luck in the competition and hope that The University of Nottingham team brings home the grand prize.
More About iGEM
iGEMers state that they are building a better world by solving problems with the help of synthetic biology. The iGEM Competition inspires nearly 6,000 students each year to work in teams to address unique challenges in their local communities.
They celebrate team achievements at the annual Giant Jamboree (24-28 October) by showcasing projects from participating teams and awarding medals, prizes, and the grand prize, the BioBrick trophies.
Their aim is to inspire responsible innovation through efforts in biosafety, biosecurity and public outreach.
The iGEM community is made up of international trailblazers from over 45 countries around the world.
In 2017 iGEM launched the After iGEM program. This program supports over 30,000 iGEMers – students and instructors – who have gone through the competition since its inception in 2004. This global network is leading the field, taking what they learned in the competition and expanding it to continue to build a better world.