Education & Communication


Additionally, to our labwork and human practices projects, we also made a point of communicating science, especially synthetic biology, to a wider audience. Even before starting iGEM, our team had the impression that genetic engineering, synthetic biology or GMOs did not enjoy the best standing in the general public, especially here in Germany. That’s a pity, regarding the huge potential of products emerging from synthetic biology! 

Mostly, people are afraid, because these concepts are not easy to grasp for someone outside the scientific bubble. Therefore, it is understandable that genetically engineering organisms can sound scary for someone who is not very familiar with science and biology. 

To tackle this problem, we decided to show people, what working in a lab really looks like, how to deal with scientific sources, while also highlighting the possibilities of synthetic biology. It was also a great concern for us to spread our newly gathered knowledge regarding research integrity and call attention to that topic.

Embo workshop

As a part of our integrated human practices, we have hosted and online introductory seminar about research integrity for other iGEM Teams! We have organized this online meeting together with EMBO associate Michele Garfinkel as a speaker, a true expert in this field! We had a nice, informative seminar with interesting discussions about this crucial topic of research integrity. If you want to know more about this seminar and our efforts to improve research integrity among young scientists, then click here (link) to visit our page about our integrated human practices!

Biospektrum article

For German teams, it has become a bit of a tradition that every year the participants of the respective teams write an article about their project and publish it together with the articles of the other teams in BIOspektrum. Of course, we did not want to miss this chance to make stakeholders aware of the interesting and creative side of synthetic biology and further educate people about iGEM, therefore, we published our project in the 6/2022 issue of BIOspektrum together with the teams of Hamburg, TU Dresden and Heidelberg.

The Transcriptome

The iGEM competition allowed us to get in touch with other synbio enthusiasts around the world and we got to know wonderful people. Some of these people were part of the iGEM Teams from Chalmers and Lausanne! We collaborated with these two teams as we have helped them out with their online blog called “The Transcriptome”. Every week, a new article is posted, in which topics related to biology, synthetic biology and science are communicated in an interesting, accessible and understandable way. We first started out our collaboration by translating some existing articles into German, to make their blog accessible for a larger amount of people. We enjoyed translating these articles so much, that we have made an agreement to continuously translate existing but also upcoming articles. One thing led to another and we quickly found ourselves writing full articles together with members from Chalmers and Lausanne. All in all, we have translated multiple posts and we have written four articles ourselves together with the hosts of this great blog! We felt really honoured, when we were even invited to even get our own personal introductions as authors on their website. This was a great collaboration, that allowed us to participate in online science-communication in an interesting and accessible way!

ScienceCommunication - Interviews

Piyush Gupta
Piyush Gupta is a PhD student at the university of Freiburg. Working in the field of molecular biology with a focus on functional analysis of genes involved in ageing and ageing-related diseases.

> Co-founder of the STEM-Club
> Presents insights from science on:
Instagram (~14.4 k follower)
YouTube (~2400 follower)

Science communicator: Piyush Gupta

Over time, our project also became known at our university. This way, Piyush became aware of us and invited us to an interview session to talk to him about our project, iGEM in general and science communication & research integrity.

We were very happy to have that opportunity, because on the one hand we could showcase our project to the broad community of Piyush and use his platform (see his Instagram-channel here) to reach out with our message on research integrity. And at the same time, it was a possibility for his followers to get insights into iGEM and maybe get motivated to participate and expand their scientific journey one day themselves!

The interview took place on 14 August 2022 between Johanna and Jonas from chamber, and Piyush. We had a nice discussion, and it was a great experience to have the possibility to showcase what we are working on.

Radio channel: DASDING

Besides reaching out to iGEM Teams and other scientists, it was also important for us to get in touch with a rather general audience. We especially tried to address people, that rarely encounter science in their day to day lives.

To do that, we reached out to the local seat of the well-known radio channel DASDING, which is called UNSERFREIBURG. After some time, we were able to arrange an interview, which was then uploaded to their Instagram-Chanel. That way we could reach more than 16.000 people of different professions, age-groups and backgrounds. During the interview we mainly focused on the bioproduction of Indigo and the problems revolving around chemical synthesis of this blue dye. By presenting our lab and our work in an accessible way that is still relevant for our audience (as everyone loves a nice pair of jeans!) we wanted to show, that science is not something mysterious that is done in some secret lab in a basement. Normal people are working in this field, people that are just like everyone else, and sometimes, scientific research isn’t any farther from you than a few hundred meters! 

We hope that we could make research more tangible and understandable for some people by giving this interview. 

Fashion days

With our previous interviews, we could reach an impressive amount of people, and this opened some doors for us! Shortly after our interview with DASDING, we were contacted by the local organizer of most events/fairs (Freiburg Touristik Wirtschaft und Messe GmbH) and we were invited to participate and present our project at the Fashion Days in Freiburg!

This fashion event was spread out through the entire city centre of Freiburg, where different workshops, catwalks, dance acts, etc. were open to visit for interested citizens!
One of these different attractions was a Pop-Up space, where we had a booth that gave us the possibility to get in touch with the visitors. With the help of an ongoing presentation at our booth, which explained the role of synthetic biology in the production of Indigo, we invited passing people to get in touch and talk to us. During the intercourse of four full days, we had wonderful talks and discussions with a lot of people about synthetic biology, GMOs, bacterial bioproduction and sustainability.

As a result, we can see, that people want to learn about synthetic biology, how it works and what we can do with it to solve problems in our tangible everyday lifes. However, it is very hard for people to get in touch with science and learn about it in a meaningful, but also understandable way. After our participation at the Fashion Days, we have realized, that science communication in general contexts is still a big problem. People want to know what scientist are doing and especially how they are doing it.

Therefore, we have realized, that it is our responsibility as upcoming scientist to get out to the public, participate in “scientifically-unusual” events (like a fashion event!), and get in contact with citizens around us in a face-to-face manner, to present science in an understandable way. By bringing synthetic biology closer to the people around us, explaining what we are doing, we could highly improve the acceptance of GMOs, bacterial bioproduction etc. in the general public!

Picture: Andi, Leon and Johanna at our booth for the fashion days. Here we presented our work and got into discussion with visitors about GMOs.