We're strong believers in the idea that science gets nowhere without support. As a result, when we weren't in lab this summer, you could often find us out and about in the community teaching anyone and everyone who would listen to us about synthetic biology! We harnessed the power of social media, gave presentations to everyone from children to adults, taught high schoolers some basic lab techniques, and collaborated with other iGEM teams to help spread awareness about the field of synthetic biology! Not to mention we started a podcast about synthetic biology and made and curated memes!

Scroll down to see pictures and more detailed descriptions of the Outreach events that we did this summer, and the ones that we have planned for the future! If you're as excited as we are about the future of synthetic biology, or just want to learn more, we'd love to have you stop by one of our future events! Feel free to contact our Outreach Coordinator, Ravali Reddy at to learn more about where you can meet up with us or see one of our upcoming presentations!

Peace, Love and Pipettes!

The 2013 Stanford-Brown iGEM team with NASA Ames Director, General Pete Worden

Collaborating with the California Academy of Sciences

With so many creative and popular science museums located so close to our lab, our team knew that we wanted to work together with one of them as a way to reach a larger audience. Luckily for us, the California Academy of Sciences (located in San Francisco) was willing to give us a chance to present our projects to them, a meeting that resulted in a collaboration agreement!

In the coming weeks, the Cal Academy will be posting a series of articles on their website that will serve to introduce readers to both our projects, and us as scientists and students. In addition, our team is one of the groups that has been invited to participate in the Academy's Brilliant! Science Festival on October 12 and 13. At the festival, we will be manning a table where visitors can stop by to learn more about our projects, iGEM, and synthetic biology in general, and we will also be giving an interactive talk as a part of the Academy's "Chat with a Scientist" series! The event lasts from 10 am-4pm both days, and we would love to see you there if you're interested in learning more about us and synthetic astrobiology!

Members of the team pose with the Academy's T-Rex skeleton after a successful presentation to Academy representatives!

Teaching a BioEngineering Bootcamp

Every year, hundreds of middle and high school students come to Stanford for a variety of summer camps, ranging from ones focused on creative writing, to ones that are all about coding your own video game. This year, we had the opportunity to teach a day-long session for one of Stanford's newest camps, a BioEngineering Bootcamp for high schoolers. In an attempt to give students a hands on approach to basic biology lab techniques, we wrote up a unique syllabus that gave these students the chance to work in a college lab space and PCR amplify their own DNA (from cheek cells) in the pursuit of the gene for alcohol dehydrogenase! We also got the chance to give a lecture-style presentation to the students that introduced them to the fields of synthetic biology and astrobiology, and taught them about what iGEM is and how they can get involved!

We received great feedback from the program and look forward to doing it again! Several students reported that the iGEM lesson was their favorite part of the whole camp, and some even spoke to us to learn more about how to start an iGEM team at their high schools! We really enjoyed working with younger students and inspiring them to explore and maybe even pursue synthetic biology as they start to think about college, and we look forward to being a part of this venture again in the future!

Team member Gordon Wade works with students in lab to help them set up a PCR amplification

Bay Area and NYC Maker Faires

We express our wholehearted passion for biology not only in our lab, but also back in our little cozy house. How awesome it would be to be able to extract DNA from some common fruit from your backyard, without any pipette or special bleacher? With that in mind, we discovered a way to have fun with strawberries - the most DNA-filled fruit you could ever find and headed to Bay Area and New York 2013 Maker Faire. What a memorable experience! We witnessed how kids dropped their jaws when seeing us swirling the cloudy DNA solution, before hooking out the beautiful jelly stuff that we name DNA and wiggling them in the sunshine. Parents were even more excited to realize what their children learnt today. But the best moment was when we explained to our little friends that DNA was what they inherited from their parents and that DNA was a central part of life. It was wonderful not only to see how they were thrilled by biology but also to feel their pride when they understood the physical connection between themselves and their parents

Many students were amazed by the technique of DNA extraction from Strawberry
Many students were amazed by the technique of DNA extraction from Strawberry

NorCal iGEM Meeting

The Nor-Cal IGEM meetup was a chance for Bay Area teams to get together and discuss our successes, our failures, and to share in the experience of IGEM. Each team met to share ideas and critiques, to help each other develop our ideas with novel perspectives. It was part dry-run for the presentation, and part meet and greet, to meet colleagues and find some familiar faces at regionals. After the presentations/Q&A, the teams converged upon the UCDavis bowling alley, to engage in a little inter-collegiate competition, enjoy drinks, and generally get to know the people behind the teams.

The NorCal iGEM Meeting ended with a night of bowling!

Podcasts and Memes

We believe in using fun and entertainment to foster a sense of community! To uphold this idea, we maintained the iGEM Memes Facebook page.

We also believe in keeping the community at large informed of important issues regarding synthetic biology. To this end, we produced podcasts designed to inform people about ethical issues in synthetic biology and encourage independent thought about these issues. The first podcast in our series can be found below, covering the quandary of lab-grown meat. Subsequent episodes include stem cell engineering and an interview with the team priest, Father Bill Stoeger, Cosmologist from the Vatican Observatory.

Lab Grown Meat SB-iGEM Podcast

Other Collaborations

One of UC Davis' projects was to create an open database of raw characterization data. We ran a fluorescence assay to characterize the strength of several of the Anderson family of promoters, using a protocol/data format that was given to us by UC Davis. We sent them growth curves and florescence data (and metadata on the equipment) of six parts from the 2013 kit.

Worked with Team Edinburgh to develop a B. subtilis integration vector for BioBricks