Our View

Hellen Keller once said - “Alone, we can do little, so little, together we can do so much.” We firmly believe in this quote, and we tried to do our share in the development of a better, more inclusive and educated society. Further, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the UN have the objective of - ‘Leave no one behind’, and it is how we designed our education and communication activities.

Fig 1: We have identified the 6 key aspects of effective engagement

Our objective is to give back to society in the form of educating them and creating awareness about sciences, synthetic biology and other pressing real-world issues. This was made possible with the help of reaching out to them and communicating with them via various activities. We kept in mind to be inclusive of all the sections of the society and make sure they have access to what we planned for them. With all this, we hope to empower them, especially the less included sections and the students.

The SDGs we followed while the design of our engagement activities are:

Outreach and Engagement Events

We had our outreach events categorised, in our minds (to keep in line with the SDGs) and for the sake of ease of navigation, into the following sections:

Students Till Middle-School

Activity and Coloring Book

Which kid doesn’t love to solve fun puzzles, crosswords and games? It can be a fun and educational experience at the same time.

We know how stressful it can be to travel with kids, especially when there are long delays or cancellations. That’s why we decided to create an activity book that would keep them entertained and engaged while waiting at the airport.

Our activity book is based on simple biological principles, and it’s filled with puzzles, games, colouring pages, and facts about our project. It’s designed to spark their curiosity and imagination, as well as help them learn new things in a fun way.

We distributed a few copies of our activity book to families with children at the airport, and we received a lot of positive feedback. The kids loved the activities and the parents appreciated having something to distract them from the boredom and anxiety of flying.

But we didn’t stop there. We also wanted to share our activity book with underprivileged children who don’t have access to many educational resources. The colourful book left them in wonder and ignited their curiosity.

We hope that our activity book will inspire these students to dream big and learn new things, no matter where they are. We believe that every child deserves a chance to have fun and learn new things. Our activity book can be found here.

School Visits

We wanted to introduce the concepts of Synthetic Biology and Climate Crisis to the school children and that’s why we visited a school named Jnana Prabodhini Prashala and conducted an educational session on synthetic biology and the climate crisis.

We explained the basics of synthetic biology and the climate crisis, such as the structure and function of DNA, the process of genetic engineering, the causes and consequences of climate change, and the potential solutions that synthetic biology can offer. We used animations, videos, and interactive quizzes to make the session fun and engaging.

We showed them some examples of how synthetic biology can be used to mitigate the climate crisis, such as creating biofuels, engineering bacteria to capture carbon dioxide, designing plants to resist drought and pests, and developing synthetic meat to reduce animal farming. Also, we explained our project to them and showed them how we are planning to reduce air pollution through the production of sustainable aviation biofuel.

It was an enriching experience with the students who asked us so many questions which even left us pondering what the answer might be. We realised that it wasn’t us going and teaching them things but a bidirectional learning process where we learnt from them as well.

Synthetic Biology Educational Video

We, in collaboration with IISER Pune’s Science Activity Centre, made an educational video on synthetic biology and released it on YouTube. The video explains how proteins are made from DNA and how synthetic biology can manipulate them for various purposes. The video gives some examples of synthetic biology applications, such as producing Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) from jellyfish in bacteria, producing insulin from recombinant technology, developing vaccines for COVID-19 based on synthetic genes or proteins, and engineering cyanobacteria for carbon capture and utilization. The video aims to introduce and inspire people to learn more about synthetic biology and its potential for the future.

We created the video in a simplistic way such that young minds can also try to understand the basics of synthetic biology. The video has been published on YouTube under the link here.

Hands-On Biology Session with Underprivileged Kids

As advocates of science education and community outreach, our team had the privilege of organizing an engaging and educational session for underprivileged schoolchildren. This event aimed to spark curiosity, foster a love for science, and inspire young minds to explore the wonders of biology. In collaboration with the Disha Club of IISER Pune (which educates kids from the less privileged sections of society), we facilitated a dynamic and hands-on experience for the children studying in grades 8th and 9th.

Our interactive session was designed to be both fun and educational, introducing students to the fascinating world of biology through three captivating experiments:

  • DNA Extraction from Bananas: We began with a demonstration of DNA extraction from common bananas. This experiment allowed students to witness the genetic material that makes up all living organisms and understand the fundamental concept of DNA.
  • Yeast Balloon Experiment: In the yeast balloon experiment, we showcased the concept of fermentation and gas production by using yeast and sugar. The inflating balloons provided a visual and exciting representation of this biological process.
  • Foldscope Usage: To empower the students with scientific tools, we introduced them to Foldscopes, portable and affordable microscopes. This hands-on experience enabled them to explore the microscopic world and observe various specimens up close.

As a token of our commitment to their ongoing education, we distributed our specially created activity books to the attending children. These books were meticulously crafted to be both informative and entertaining, containing a variety of puzzles, colouring pages, and educational games related to biology. By providing these resources, we aimed to reinforce the concepts taught during the session and encourage self-driven learning.

The interactive session, coupled with the distribution of activity books, left a meaningful impact on the young participants. Through this outreach initiative, we aimed not only to share our passion for biology but also to bridge the gap in science education and provide a platform for these underprivileged students to dream big.

High School and University Students

Science Exhibit at Our Institute Fest

In partnership with Mimamsa SciCon, we organized an engaging Synthetic Biology Exhibit that featured interactive activities and captivating presentations. Our main focus was to introduce high school and undergraduate students to the fascinating world of synthetic biology and iGEM. We delved into the concept of synthetic biology and highlighted its wide-ranging practical applications.

During the event, we showcased three exciting games:

  • The “Plasmid Game” was an effort to introduce BioBricks to the students. With the help of riddles, we guided the students in assembling a gene expression system. With a hands-on approach, we provided a physical representation of a 'plasmid' and various 'parts'. The challenge was deciphering parts and their respective functions. Through this game, we introduced them to the world of gene regulatory systems, including activators, repressors, basic components, and composite elements.
  • Our target audience was primarily high school students who hadn't been exposed to gene system regulation before. Their enthusiastic feedback indicated a strong connection with the game's content and visuals, highlighting their enjoyment and engagement throughout the activity.
  • The “Crossword Challenge” was a collaborative activity where participants formed teams to solve a crossword puzzle containing clues related to synthetic biology concepts. Guided by the hints, teams worked together to fill in the grid with terms ranging from gene parts to regulatory elements and techniques. This helped culminate a comprehensive picture of the synthetic biology landscape that celebrates both teamwork and knowledge acquisition.
  • The "Spin & Answer" game involved participants spinning a wheel with numbered sections, each corresponding to a unique question related to synthetic biology. As the wheel spun, anticipation built, and when it came to a stop, participants were asked to answer the question indicated by the number. This interactive activity encouraged engagement and recalling what they just learned.

We had lots of fun firstly planning the activities and then executing them. Many student volunteers helped us in the process and we thank them sincerely. The excitement and eagerness of the students stole our hearts and made the event a great success and learning experience.

Art Competition

Art is a form of self-expression and communication. We feel that art is a form that is accessible to all without any barriers and hence we incorporated it into our outreach activities.

We wanted to raise awareness and inspire action on the climate crisis among school children, and that’s why we organized an art competition on the theme of Climate Crisis. Our art competition was open to school children from grades 5 to 12, and it involved creating original artworks that express their views and feelings on the climate crisis.

We received more than 250 entries from students across different schools across India, and we were amazed by their creativity and talent. The artworks ranged from paintings, drawings, and collages, to digital art, and they depicted various aspects of the climate crisis, such as its causes, consequences, solutions, and emotions. There was no restriction on the type or art.

The winners of Category A (5th-8th Grade) - Reiya Ghatnekar (The Orchid School) and Riana Poorav Shah (St Mary School).

The winners of Category B (9th-12th Grade) - Shreyanshi Singh (City International School) and Sanjana Pardeshi (Delhi Public School).

The winners were awarded a gift card of Rs 500 along with a certificate. The top 10 entries in both categories were given honorary mentions and all the participants were given certificates of participation.

Biomimetics Competition

Biomimetics is the science of learning from nature and applying its solutions to human problems. It is a fascinating and interdisciplinary field that combines engineering, chemistry, and biology. Biomimetics can lead to innovations such as Velcro, artificial muscles, and self-healing materials. Aeroplanes are also a result of biomimetic design- streamlined body inspired by birds that can fly.

We challenged the students to design and create projects that mimic natural systems or elements, such as animals, plants, or microorganisms.

More than 100 students from various schools across Pune took part in the competition and presented their projects at our campus, where they had the opportunity to interact with our faculty and students and learn more about biomimetics. We are grateful to Dr. Chhavi Mathur for being the judge of the event.

Best projects were awarded prizes based on their originality, functionality, and sustainability, and participation certificates were given to all the participants.

The winning team was from Jnana Prabodhini Prashala, who developed a fire truck system which has a dynamic thermal sensing hose that can move. This was inspired by the trunk of an elephant. They exhibited a working model of the same. It was extremely impressive to see a group of school students from the 10th grade develop such an elegant engineering device.

The first runner’s up from- The Millennium National School which devised a model that was to strengthen the foundation of the buildings to make them earthquake-resistant. The model was inspired by the strong and well-spread-out roots of trees. We couldn’t believe that such a thing would work but they demonstrated us their model which left us awestruck.

We hope that our competition will inspire these students to pursue their interests in biomimetics and STEM fields and to keep exploring the wonders of nature. We believe that biomimetics can offer solutions to many of the challenges that humanity faces today, such as climate change, energy scarcity, and health issues.

Molecular Biology Workshop: Who Dun It - DNA Fingerprinting Hands-On

We organized a molecular biology workshop along with a hands-on DNA fingerprinting activity. Our workshop was aimed at students from grades 8 to 12, and it involved both theoretical and practical sessions.

Our very own experts who regularly conduct molecular biology training sessions - Dr. Poornima Raveendran and Dr. Sneha Bhogale were kind enough to conduct the session.

In the theoretical session, we explained the basics of molecular biology and DNA fingerprinting, such as the structure and function of DNA, the process of DNA extraction, the principle of polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and the analysis of DNA profiles. We used animations, videos, and interactive quizzes to make the session fun and engaging.

The aim of DNA fingerprinting was to first learn the principle and mechanism behind it. The activity was to identify the killer from the DNA extracted from the crime scene. It set the theme as that of a typical crime scene investigation. In the hands-on session, we gave students a few kits that contained all the materials and equipment needed to perform DNA fingerprinting. Poornima and Sneha guided them through the steps of DNA extraction from cheek cells, PCR amplification of specific DNA regions, gel electrophoresis to separate DNA fragments by size, and visualization of DNA bands using a UV transilluminator.

Our workshop was designed to spark curiosity and interest in molecular biology and DNA fingerprinting among students and to give them hands-on experience in performing a scientific experiment. It was planned so that these young minds get a chance to explore the field of biology which they generally don’t as a part of the regular school curricula.

Intra-Institute Debate Competition

We conducted a Debate Competition on the topic of “Are sustainable fuels economically and environmentally sustainable?” The competition was judged by Dr. Pooja Sancheti. The competition was conducted to promote a sense of understanding and analysis of all sides of the economic and environmental sustainability of sustainable fuels.

The team who debated AGAINST the topic talked about the usage of farming lands for the production of plant-based biofuels. They also argued about the usage of fertilizers and water for the cultivation of biofuel plants which is cost ineffective.

The team who debated FOR the topic replied to all the points that were raised by the other team. They talked about sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), which would eventually tackle all the problems of plant-based biofuels. They also talked about the environmental benefits of sustainable fuels over conventional fuels.

The team, who debated FOR the topic, was declared as the winners by the judge for their detailed research and excellent debate skills shown in the competition. The inputs were important for us to understand the standpoint of the students on the topic of SAF, which we are trying to push for, and it was heartening to see our fellow friends pitch in for sustainable fuels.

Synthetic Biology Awareness Session

In collaboration with the Science Activity Centre (SAC), We invited students from New Arts, Commerce, and Science College, Ahmednagar, and MES Abasaheb Garware College to attend an awareness session on Synthetic Biology organized by our team. We wanted to educate college students about the basics of synthetic biology, its benefits and challenges, and its ethical and social implications. We also wanted to inspire them to pursue careers in this exciting and emerging field.

We explained the concepts and methods of synthetic biology in a simple and engaging way. We also showed some examples of synthetic biology projects, such as the creation of a minimal genome bacterium and the development of a biosensor for arsenic detection in water.

We had an interactive session with the students, where they asked questions and shared their opinions about synthetic biology. The students enjoyed the session and learned a lot from it. They expressed their interest and curiosity in synthetic biology and thanked us for organizing it.

We were glad that we could share our passion for synthetic biology with the students and spark their enthusiasm for this field. We hope that our awareness session will encourage more students to explore synthetic biology and contribute to its advancement.

The iGEM Community

All India iGEM Meet (AIIM) at IISER Bhopal

28th-30th August was a very fun weekend at IISER Bhopal, where 15 iGEM teams from all across India gathered together to share their journey, learn, collaborate, and take their iGEM projects to the next level. We were glad that we could be a part of the event.

Three members of the team - Oyindrila Samanta, Prateek Makhija, and Alfi Sajeev attended the meeting in person. We were a part of the poster presentation and mock-jamboree sessions where we presented our idea and progress till then with fellow teams, audience, and jury. It was a really fun experience where we got a lot of feedback too. We met Jeevan Subodh and Sana Jalili, iGEM Ambassadors for Asia and Oceania, Shreya Kulkarni from iGEM startups, Dr. Debashish Nayak, the IISER Bhopal team's PI, Dr. Lavanya Bhagvatula, CEO of Anvaya Biotech Ltd and many more people who gave us their suggestions.

The fun part was interacting with other teams and talking about potential collaborations in the future. We will surely cherish our time spent at IISER Bhopal and thank them for being such a nice host.

Wiki Workshop

We understand the true nature of iGEM is to build a strong community where people help each other to learn more, do better, and be a part of each other’s journeys. We also believe in the same philosophy and we realised that iGEM saw a huge increase in the number of registered teams from around 350 in 2022 to 417 in 2023. We understand that technical aspects of iGEM like wiki development might not be an easy task to begin with for newer teams especially. Our small effort was to help everyone get familiar with the basics of wiki development.

The session was conducted by our wiki developer, Sashank Chandra and graphic designer, Yuvraj Belani with Jay Malave (IISER Pune team 2, 2022 wiki developer), who is a professional web developer. Around 30 iGEM teams were a part of the workshop and we hope they truly benefitted from the session.

Biosafety Workshop with the ICT Mumbai iGEM team

In collaboration with ICT-Mumbai, we organised a biosafety webinar on 26 July which was hosted by Dr. Shamlan S. Reshamwala, Assistant Professor, Center for Energy Biosciences, ICT Mumbai and Dr. Vinod Jyothikumar, who is the Operation Management Consultant at DSS+. This webinar was organised by both teams to raise seriousness about biosafety amongst the iGEM community as a whole; to know more about the safety aspect of our project, click here.


This was another very fun aspect of iGEM where different teams came up with different ideas to engage with each other. We had initiated the ‘GoGreen’ Cycle to work collab and we were a part of quite a few collaborations initiated by other iGEM teams.

General Public


The main aim of the survey was to get to know the general public’s understanding of synthetic biology and how open they are to the use of synthetic biological products. The survey had various questions on individual’s understanding and belief in synthetic biology and their concerns about the use of synthetic biological products. The survey was also translated into 5 Indian languages - Hindi, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia and Tamil. This enabled us to reach out to many people who are comfortable in their native Indian language.

The results of the survey were really great and many people are welcoming to the production and use of synthetic biological products. Also, the results also show that people believe in the potential of synthetic biology in addressing climate change and food security. The detailed analysis of the survey is given below in the form of pie charts.

The results to this survey can be found in our iHP section linked here. Further, the different editions of the survey can be found in our inclusivity page linked here.

Syn-Bio Dictionary in Indian languages

A dictionary is a vital tool for language learning, offering definitions and enhancing vocabulary, aids in understanding context, and serves as a reliable reference for effective communication. We also made a Synthetic Biology dictionary that has terms that are defined and translated into a few Indian languages. We hope that this dictionary helps people from various linguistic backgrounds to understand and learn synthetic biological terms more easily. All the versions of the dictionary can be found on our inclusivity page linked here.

Biofuel Symposium

With the aim of knowing environmentalists’ and policymakers’ views on biofuel and the government biofuel policies, we organized a panel discussion on the topic of “Are the existing policies enough to achieve the net zero emission goal by 2070?” on August 10, 2023, on the occasion of World Biofuel Day. The panel was made up of Dr. Gurudas Nulkar, who is a Professor and Director at the Centre for Sustainable Development, Gokhale Institute, Dr. Sharachchandra Lele, a Distinguished Fellow at the Centre for Environment and Development, ATREE, Sharvari Patki, who heads the Electric Mobility program at the World Resource Institute, and Dr. Venkatachalam, a former Professor at Tamilnadu Agriculture University (TNAU). The panel was moderated by Dr. Bejoy K Thomas, an interdisciplinary social scientist with an interest in problem-driven research on environment and development.

Dr. Lele suggested a gradual approach starting with lower emissions and balancing minimal positive emissions with carbon sequestration. Sharvari Patki emphasized the role of the transportation sector in emissions and proposed solutions like carpooling, public transport, and electric vehicles. Gurudas Nulkar proposed using degraded lands for biofuel cultivation, providing livelihoods for rural populations, but Dr Lele cautioned about potential conflicts with food production. The panel agreed on the potential of science and technology in creating efficient biofuels to significantly reduce carbon emissions.

Social Media

In today’s world, social media has taken centre stage in all marketing, networking and publicity. To reach out to a larger audience, it is necessary to use social media as one of the tools as a huge majority have access to it.

We have an Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter page where we kept our audience engaged with fun trivia questions every Friday, biofuel and Sci-Fi posts. We also got to interact with other iGEM teams and their content via social media.

Cleaning Drive

In our commitment to environmental conservation and addressing the climate crisis, our team enthusiastically participated in the River Cleaning Drive organized by the Jeevitanadi Foundation. This initiative took place along the banks of the Mula River.

The Mula River is not only a scenic natural asset but also a critical component of our local ecosystem and a reflection of the climate crisis. Unfortunately, urbanization, pollution, and the warming climate have accelerated its deterioration, threatening its aquatic life and exacerbating the climate crisis. Recognizing the urgency of the situation, the Jeevitanadi Foundation has been tirelessly working to rejuvenate this precious river as part of its climate action efforts.

With a shared commitment to environmental issues and addressing the climate crisis, our team eagerly joined forces with the Jeevitanadi Foundation in their mission to clean and restore the Mula River. We hope we could make a positive impact on both the environment and the community while addressing the interconnected issues of pollution and climate change.

Armed with gloves, trash bags, and a sense of purpose, our team, along with other dedicated volunteers, went on the riverbanks to collect plastic waste, discarded items, and litter that had accumulated over time. This not only cleaned the river but also prevented further pollution. We worked tirelessly to clear invasive plant species and weeds that had encroached upon the riverbank.

Plantation Drive

To promote an eco-friendly positive impact on our college campus, we tried to enhance the greenery around us. With the assistance of dedicated gardeners, we organized a Plantation Drive that not only added to the aesthetic appeal of our campus but also contributed significantly to environmental conservation. The drive was organized based on the objectives of mitigating climate change, enhancing biodiversity, improving air quality, and promoting environmental awareness.

We undertook this activity with the help of the college administration, gardeners, and local nurseries to source the right plant species for our campus. We carefully selected native plants that would thrive in our region, requiring minimal maintenance and water.