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During our project, we indulged the spirit of the iGEM community. We met and collaborated with other iGEM teams, made many new friends and gained a lot in the process. Discussing PseuPomona with other teams and hearing about their projects allowed us to step back from the technical details of our research and get a holistic look on the competition. It helped us feel that we are also a part of this community and motivated us to work towards the end of our project.

Team Meetups

Dutch Meetup

We co-organised a meetup for Dutch and Belgian iGEM teams in Utrecht, with the help of Centre For Living Technologies. We made new friends and listened to interesting project pitches and lectures.

A group picture of all teams who attended the meetup, together with guest lecturers.

Together with Centre For Living Technologies (CLT) and the iGEM team from Eindhoven, we organised a meetup for the Dutch and Belgian iGEM teams, which was held at Utrecht University at the beginning of July. It was an opportunity for all the teams to meet and exchange experiences with their projects so far. Every team pitched their project in a short presentation. We listened to two lectures, by Mr. Dirk Stemerding and Dr. Zoë Robaey, about ethics and philosophy in biological research. Students were able to actively engage in the conversation during a Q&A session involving both lecturers, where we discussed the opportunities and challenges surrounding ethical aspects of our projects. The discussion gave us insight into considering ethics in our research. During a group exercise session, each team could share their experiences, methods and struggles of their own project. This helped us consider team functioning and workflow aspects of the project.

It was a great opportunity to meet other iGEM teams, people who were experiencing the same types of challenges, but also like-minded students excited about their own projects. This helped us look at our approach from an outside perspective, consult ideas with people in a similar situation and gain a better understanding of how we wanted to proceed with our project in the coming months.

European Meetup

We joined the European iGEM meetup organised by the Münster team, where we listened to lectures and met other teams. It was a great opportunity to get a glimpse of the larger iGEM community.

Agata (left) and Johannes (right) pitching our project at the meetup in Münster.

We visited Münster to meet 19 other European teams and learn about each other's projects. We also participated in lectures given by Prof. Dr. Ing. Jochen Schmid, Dr. Sonja Billerbeck, and Prof. Dr. Andreas Möglich. The lectures were insightful and provided new perspectives on our projects. Since both lecturers are involved with the iGEM team from Münster, they were able to share insights into the competition's functioning. It made us realise that we should not only focus on results, but on the project design aspect as well. Besides the scientific part, there was a picnic and a barbecue organised, during which we had a chance to meet fellow iGEMers. The event was a nice way to get our heads out of our own project and experience what other teams were going through. Shared memories, comments and tips helped us to go back to work with brains full of new ideas.

Team Collaborations

iGEM IISER Kolkata

Team IISER Kolkata and us decided to collaborate, because we found out they are also working on using engineered bacteria on crops. We discussed different collaboration opportunities, from sharing knowledge and results to talking about ethics and biosafety. We also shared our plans for public engagement projects. Each section of the Kolkata team was put in direct contact with members of our team responsible for specific topics.

We mutually decided to cooperate in the human practices area. We translated a childrens' book about microbes that they wrote to Dutch, so it could be shared with children in our country. Team IISER translated our survey directed to cherry farmers to Hindi and shared it with their local farmer associations.

iGEM Exeter

With the team Cath Exe from Exeter, we discussed ethical aspects of iGEM projects. They wanted to find out how different teams approach this topic and what challenges they face from different stakeholders. Two members of our team had an online meeting with the head of human practices of the Exeter team, where they discussed the ethics surrounding both projects - even though the projects are from different fields, similarities were found in the difficulties. Since both our projects involve genetically modified bacteria, we encountered similar struggles when communicating our ideas to the public. The discussion convinced us that the ethical aspect of our project is as important as scientific research and that we should ensure clear communication about the ethics of our project with the wider audience.

iGEM Düsseldorf postcard project

We participated in the yearly iGEM postcard project organised by team Düsseldorf. Its aim is to bring iGEM teams together by letting them design postcards related to their projects. The postcards are then shared between the teams. We hope that the one we made found a new home in Germany!

The front and back page of the PseuPomona postcard that we designed.

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