INCLUSIVITY

OUR IGEM TEAM 🫂

The makeup of the AshesiGhana team resonates perfectly with Doug Floyd’s quote “You don’t get harmony when everyone sings the same note.” From forming a team with different majors, different year groups, and a coalition between two schools, AshesiGhana presents a team with a varying but harmonizing composition. One peculiar characteristic of our team is that 77.7% (7 out of 9 members) of the team had no prior exposure to synthetic biology before the start of this year’s iGEM season. The AshesiGhana iGEM team is made up of five engineering students (mechanical and electrical), two computer science students and two students from the biological sciences.

In addition, we had our amazing principal investigator (PI) and our two instructors who provided guidance and support during the iGEM period, and by so doing motivated us to keep going even when things got tough. We are proud of our progress and success as a team and enjoyed the time we spent together working and having fun alongside. Gold Alliance for gold!

SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY SESSION WITH COLLEGE STUDENTS [ASHESI UNIVERSITY]

The AshesiGhana iGEM team hosted a session with Ashesi University students. The event was designed to introduce students to synthetic biology, its applications, and about project that this year’s iGEM team was tackling. The program also served as a way to encourage students to enroll for the ‘Synthetic Biology’ course in Ashesi university. The session was a success! The number of students that enrolled shot up by 5 after the session. That is, it was 5 times more than the initial enrollment number. We even had other non-science majors curious about the field of biology and how they could potentially find their way researching in these fields/ having the opportunity to join next year’s iGEM team. Prizes were up for grabs for the winners that answered all our synthetic-biology-related questions, that we strategically mentioned throughout the interactive presentations.

SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY SESSION WITH HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS (AFRICAN SCIENCE ACADEMY)

Based on our research, we discovered that synthetic biology currently demonstrates a strong gender bias, reaffirming the global trend, with only 30% of all leadership positions being held by females. Hence, the team journeyed to an all-girls school [A.S.A high school] in Ghana, for a fun and interactive session with the students. The headteacher [Ms. Gifty Ghansah] was delighted to have us come over and share our knowledge with the girls. The students were from all over Africa, including Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and more. Three members of the current Ashesi iGEM team were former students of this high school, and it was great to share their experience with the girls and empower them, through their knowledge of synthetic biology. The team delivered a presentation on DNA, its structure, plasmids, and our biosensor project for iGEM. Afterwards, we had an interactive session with the girls. We taught them how to extract some DNA from bananas, and build DNA fragments (out of gummy bears and toothpicks). Finally, they were taught how to design a plasmid using beads.