Over the past months, we worked within our community to encourage an interest in science. We took various steps to showcase how science can bring solutions to real world problems. The overall goal of our science communications was to bring awareness of the problem and to create conversations on what steps we are taking to prevent it.

R.E. Peter Biology Conference

March 10, 2023

In March 2023, our iGEM team was given the opportunity to participate in the Dr. Richard E. (RE) Peter Biology Conference. We participated by presenting a poster and a brief oral presentation of our project overview and early sensor-construct models. Although, we had not yet started lab work at this stage in the competition. The RE Peter Biology Conference is hosted annually by the Biological Sciences Graduate Students Association (BGSA) at the University of Alberta in honour of Dr. Peter and his contributions to the department of Biological Sciences. The aim of the conference is to exhibit the diverse research pursuits within the department of Biological Sciences through the exhibition posters and oral presentations by senior undergraduates, M. Sc. and Ph. D. students, with keynote lectures from esteemed professors within the University of Alberta and external institutions.

With a core part of this year's iGEM team being members of the Biological Sciences department, participation in this conference was an excellent opportunity to expose our team to individuals in the department of Biological Sciences and the research being conducted. Furthermore, our involvement in the conference allowed our team to interact with a variety of people within the University of Alberta community in different capacities; discussing our project and goals, incorporating feedback, bringing iGEM into the collective mind of the U of A community, and even hearing personal testimonies from past iGEM participants.

Our poster focused on explaining what iGEM is, bringing awareness to the issue we are trying to address, what the ultimate goal of our project is, and displayed early conceptual models of the sensor-construct we aimed to develop. It should be noted that from the time in which we participated in the conference (March 8-10, 2023), the molecular aspects of the project have evolved substantially and don’t reflect the current and final state of the sensor construct we developed for the project. Additionally, the brief presentation we delivered at the closing ceremony of the conference aimed to bring awareness about our project directly to the university community and stimulate interest regarding the pursuits of the 2023 UAlberta iGEM team within the department of Biological Sciences.

JulyGEM Conference

July 22, 2023

In July 2023, the UAlberta iGEM team was invited by the UCalgary iGEM team to participate in their annual JulyGEM conference and pitch our project to a panel of judges. JulyGEM aims to recreate the final Grand Jamboree conference at the end of the iGEM competition. This event allows teams from across the globe to join together and participate in keynote presentations, pitching sessions in front of a panel of distinguished judges, and provide feedback to other teams about their iGEM project.

Our team was tasked with creating a 15-minute presentation giving an overview of our project, current completed work, and our efforts towards integrating human practices into our research. Judging criteria included how the solution addresses the problem and provides value, feasibility, integration of human practices, opportunity for competitive advantage, and how the wet lab and dry lab work together. Each team was able to receive feedback from our judges as well as from other participating iGEM teams.

Our presentation focused on the problem we had chosen as well as some background information on why the issue was important. We went briefly into the methodology of both our lab and engineering teams and some conceptual models of our synthetic constructs and drone prototypes. We were able to discuss our results with the panel of judges and the next steps we wanted to take during the remainder of the project. Additionally, we presented our ongoing efforts to engage in human practices and incorporate feedback from the community.

At this time, work in both the dry and wet labs was steadily underway. However, we still had little experience in pitching our project and presenting it to a broader audience, especially with many of our team members being new to the iGEM competition. The JulyGEM conference provided an excellent opportunity for us to practice presenting in front of an interdisciplinary audience and effectively communicating our ideas in a digestible format. We were able to expose our team to the research conducted by other iGEM teams and the problems they chose to tackle. As well, the judging rubric and feedback obtained would be invaluable, allowing us to identify and improve the weak points of the project by incorporating their comments.

The 2023 UAlberta iGEM team would like to extend their gratitude to the University of Calgary’s iGEM team and their associated partners for involving us in this event!

Alberta International Airshow

August 6, 2023

During the Alberta International Airshow 2023, four of our team members had a booth set up to talk about our project. This event, which took place at Villenvue Domestic Airshow in Sturgeon County, Alberta, Canada, drew a massive crowd of all ages, with an estimated 10,000 enthusiastic attendees throughout the day. Our iGEM members engaged with a diverse range of professionals and enthusiasts, connecting with key figures in various fields, including but not limited to avionics, engineering, aviation, and agriculture. They engaged in conversations with companies such as Rise Air, the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Alberta Aviation Council, Aboriginal Training Services Ltd, AlbertaSat, URAG, and many more. One highlight of our experience was our placement alongside AlbertaSat's team, offering us the chance to exchange insights and ideas. The team also had the honor of presenting our project to Alberta Premier Danielle Smith herself. Her excitement and positive feedback reaffirmed the significance of our team's efforts in shaping the future of agriculture and the economy in Alberta.

Fission 2 Fusion Dance Project

September 16, 2023

The UAlberta iGEM team created a 3 minute thesis video which was sent to the Fission 2 Fusion Dance Project (F2F Dance) where trained individuals did an interpretive dance to the audio. The F2F Dance Project is an initiative that focuses on breaking down intricate scientific concepts to their most basic elements and transforming them into visual depictions of science through dance. The aim of their project is to bridge the gap between traditional arts and science by creating works that are thought-provoking and enjoyable to people of all backgrounds.

The thesis included details of our project, statistics, and its relevance. The UAlberta iGEM team was determined to try creative avenues of education and outreach, thus working to merge science with the art of dance to create a powerful visual of our project. The two dancers took turns dancing to the thesis and did a beautiful job of conveying the main messages.

Student Innovation Centre

October 6, 2023

Our final science outreach event took place at the Student Innovation Centre, located at the University of Alberta. This center serves as a central hub for a dynamic and collaborative community of student innovators, offering a dedicated space for extracurricular competitions, maker projects, and student-led ventures. It supports initiatives at all stages, from initial design planning to entrepreneurial pursuits.

This created the opportunity to present our full project to fellow innovators. We promoted our work through various channels, including broadcasting it on all the TVs within the center, sending messages to all students in the Discord community, and having an article about our project published on the center's website. Through these efforts, we engaged in conversations with numerous students working on projects spanning various fields of study.