The importance of sharing our project with the general public is very important in regard to the iGEM judging criteria. The team realized that our project could inspire others to make a positive difference and inspired us to prioritize raising awareness about significant topics in healthcare, particularly research in rare diseases. Beyond creating awareness about these critical issues, our goal was to demonstrate how synthetic biology and bioengineering could be harnessed to address them. This presented us with an opportunity to champion this field of research and promote the iGEM competition. It was also important for the team to show how fun science and engineering truly are to the local community.

With that in mind, the FSU iGEM Team collaborated with The Challenger Learning Center to host the first-ever Tallahassee Bioengineering Symposium on Saturday, September 23rd. This event invited families all across Leon County to attend. With over 100 families attending the event, we were able to spread knowledge about Synthetic Biology and Bioengineering. Professors and their research groups from Florida State University and the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering brought fun, interactive demonstrations to their tables for children to learn about innovations in Synthetic Biology and Bioengineering.

We also invited 3 professors as guest speakers with Team Lead, Elizabeth Moore, and Associate Team Lead, Sai Devulapalli also giving a presentation discussing E. esperance and how applications of the team’s project can be used to find suitable treatments for other rare diseases that are overlooked. The goal of the Symposium was to inspire the younger generation to always stay curious, ask questions, and most importantly have fun while learning. We believe the Tallahassee Bioengineering Symposium accomplished that.

As you read through the team’s Education Report, you will learn more about what was entailed behind the preparation of the Symposium. The website utilized for outreach can be checked out on the Symposium Page. You can also view photos of the Symposium above.

The Timeline

Below is the listed documentation accomplished in order for the Symposium to become a success.

May 2023

  • Initiated Collaborations with Alan Hanstein and The Challenger Learning Center.
  • Researched on other conferences and how their events worked.
  • Developed potential ideas to incorporate in the Symposium.
  • Worked on creating a name for the Symposium. Originally it was planned to be called "BioSynthX" but after speaking with families, it did not seem to resonate the overall message of what we wanted to do, which led to naming the event, "Tallahassee Bioengineering Symposium"
  • June 2023

  • Finalized the date for September 23rd, 2023, to avoid major campus-wide sporting events and community activities occurring. This is very important in order to maximize the number of families who can attend.
  • Created a list of professors and research groups to contact in the Fall Semester that fit within the realm of Synthetic Biology & Bioengineering.
  • July 2023

  • Developed a Survey which is linked here: Symposium Survey
  • Developed Poster Board Signs
  • Reached out to professors who would like to be a Guest Speaker. This led to Dr. Emily Pritchard, Dr. Stephen Arce, and Dr. Scott Thourson to be our speakers.
  • August 2023

  • Developed the Symposium Webpage which can be found here: Symposium Page
  • Created a Mass-List Email and sent it to over 50 professors at Florida State University and the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering.
  • Set a deadline for table confirmation the week prior to the Symposium.
  • September 2023

  • Received confirmations from professors that they will attend.
  • Contacted the Leon County Schools District & School Board to send the flyer and Symposium Website to every family in elementary school, middle school, and high school. This led to over 1,000 families receiving a flyer in the District's Weekly Newsletter.
  • Collaborated with FSU Department of Biology, FSU Center for Leadership and Service, FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, The FSU Innovation Hub to post flyers on their websites and social media pages.
  • Created the floor plan layout for tables at The Challenger Learning Center, ensuring an organized and efficient arrangement for the event.
  • Finalized Guest Speakers for the Symposium, securing knowledgeable and engaging presenters to enrich the symposium experience.
  • Developed an iGEM Presentation, which covered our team's project and discussing potential applications of Synthetic Biology for Rare Diseases.
  • September 23rd, 2023 (Day of Event)

  • Gained Candid Feedback from Professors and Families of their thoughts on the Symposium, and the overwhelming response is that it was great! This feedback will be invaluable for future iterations of the event and can be used for improvement.
  • Sent photos to Media Outlets and Social Media Directors for the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering to post on their Social Media Platforms
  • Receiving positive feedback during the event is a significant achievement and reflects the success of your efforts in organizing the Tallahassee Bioengineering Symposium. Feel free to use this when considering to plan in the future.


    In order to accomplish this endeavor of a successful Symposium, the Team collaborated with The Challenger Learning Center, The FSU Center for Leadership and Service, The FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, The FSU Department of Biological Sciences, The FSU Office of Clinical Research, the FSU Innovation HUB, Florida State University School District, Fun4TallyKids, and the Leon County Schools District.

    With the help of these amazing institutions, we were able to develop a flyer and website to send to over 1,000 families in the Big Bend Area. The flyer as seen below, was designed in partnership with the FSU Innovation HUB.

    In collaboration with the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering and the FSU Department of Biological Sciences, 8 Professors and 4 student organizations, including FSU iGEM tabled with fun interactive demonstrations to teach students about applications in Synthetic Biology & Bioengineering. The Symposium also invited 3 Professors to provide presentations about different topics to engage our families in attendance.

    All of those who attended can also be found on the Symposium Page, including the topics that each of the 3 Professors discussed.

    From Left to Right: Dr. Emily Pritchard and her Keynote Address Presentation, Sai Devulapalli & Elizabeth Moore and their presentation, "E.esperance: Innovating Hope with Synthetic Biology", Dr. Stephen Arce and his presentation, "Molecular: Enter Action", and finally Dr. Scott Thourson and his presentation, "The Microworld: From Microscale Phenomena in Biology to Microdevices in Biomedical Engineering"

    Community Impact

    What truly set this event apart was its impact on the community. It served as a catalyst for bringing together individuals and organizations from diverse backgrounds, emphasizing the power of collaboration in addressing critical issues such as rare disease research and environmental issues. Attendees witnessed firsthand how bioengineering could play a pivotal role in crafting sustainable solutions for the future.

    The Symposium sparked curiosity among students, inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers. Through interactive demonstrations and engaging presentations & discussions, it succeeded in showcasing the world of bioengineering, especially for underrepresented communities. These outreach efforts instilled a sense of excitement and possibility, igniting scientific passions and encouraging broader participation in the field.

    As a result of the Symposium, valuable connections were formed, ideas were exchanged, and a shared commitment to advancing bioengineering for the future was solidified. It left a perfect mark on the Tallahassee community, strengthening the relationshis between academia, industry, and the younger generation, all united by a common vision of a brighter future.


    To truly learn the positive impact we made by hosting this Symposium. We asked several participants on their thoughts of the event.

    Professor: “The Symposium was fantastic! It almost felt like a giant playdate with science demos. Kids learned, parents learned, and even professors learned something new today.”

    Parent: “This event was awesome! I am always looking for events to engage my children in science. I am so glad the Symposium happened because I definitely think my kids are passionate about doing something in the field of STEM!”

    Teacher: “Although I wasn’t able to attend the Symposium. All I heard the Monday when I arrived at class was that the Symposium was superb! I had to change my class schedule to talk about Bioengineering because of how excited my students were about this event!”

    Student Participant (Age 5): “I thought the Symposium was fun! Dr. Arce’s presentation was fun. I really liked running around with plates and learning about what happens when tiny molecules are in a hot or cold place.”

    Student Participant (Age 12): “I thought the lecture from Dr. Pritchard was cool. I didn’t know that Bioengineering also can be used to make food like the IMPOSSIBLE Burger. But I think my favorite part was playing a LIFE-SIZED game of Operation at Dr.Grant's table!”

    Student Participant (Age 9): “I really liked the Gobstoppers that Dr. Thourson gave after his presentation. I had no idea that volume and surface area could be used to make candy super sweet. I also think Dr. Dennis was super nice. I had no idea that you could extract DNA from strawberries so easily”

    Undergraduate Participant: “It was really cool to see my professors outside of class and learn more about their research. I was fascinated by Dr. Grant’s Medical Imaging Research and Dr. Holmes’ research on Biomaterials. I think it’s cool to interact with younger students and give them advice about career goals”

    High School Participant (Age 15): “I really enjoyed going to each Professor’s table and learning about what they do. I’m still trying to figure out on what I want to do as a career, but after this, I think it will definitely be something in Bioengineering, particularly prosthetics. I really enjoyed the discussion I had with Sai about 3D Printing and how it can be used in Tissue Engineering. His demo was melting 3D Printing plastic Stick Figures, but it made me feel like a kid again!”

    Professor: “I believe I can say this on behalf of all the professors who joined the Symposium. It always feels good to take a Saturday off to show children fun demonstrations. I truly believe the best education comes from enjoying the material presented, and no better way to do that is to have fun demos to try out. It really put a smile on my face, seeing kids ask me and my colleagues questions that I haven’t heard before. It goes to show that children have an active imagination, and it is important to cherish that.”

    Future Plans

    The Tallahassee Bioengineering Symposium was an incredible feat with plans to make the event an annual tradition in collaboration with The Challenger Learning Center. Building on the success of this Inaugural symposium, the FSU iGEM Team are ready to make this event even bigger in the future.

    The Tallahassee Bioengineering Symposium was an incredible feat with plans to make the event an annual tradition in collaboration with The Challenger Learning Center. Building on the success of this Inaugural symposium, the FSU iGEM Team are ready to make this event even bigger in the future.

    The team plans to invite Biomedical companies to join along the ensemble list of researchers who've already participated. The team also hopes to integrate researchers from the FSU College of Medicine and University of Florida's Biomedical Engineering Department to strengthen future collaborations. Their insights and contributions will further enrich the event, creating a bridge between the topics of medical practice and bioengineering research. This partnership will provide students & families with a deeper view of how bioengineering solutions translate into real-world medical applications.

    As the Symposium evolves, it can expand its reach and impact. This includes broadening the scope to encompass not only bioengineering but also related fields such as Biotechnology, Medical Sciences, Environmental Sustainability, and continuing the discussions of Synthetic Biology. By embracing a multidisciplinary approach, the Symposium will serve as a nexus for converging ideas, technologies, and solutions.

    Moreover, outreach efforts to local schools and educational institutions will expand outside of Leon County. The goal is to inspire and educate the next generation of scientists and engineers, especially those from smaller communities, igniting their passion for Bioengineering and Synthetic Biology.

    The future of the Tallahassee Bioengineering Symposium holds great promise. With expanded collaborations, enriched content, and a commitment to education, this annual tradition will continue to be a driving force in Bioengineering, Innovation, and Community Engagement.