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Rutgers outreach

Human Practice Advance

The Rutgers University iGEM team introduces a novel plug-in for PyMol protein viewing software. PyMOL is an open-source molecular visualization system created by Warren Lyford DeLano. His work led to the creation of tools that become universally accessible to scientific and educational communities such as iGEM. PyMol produces high-quality 3D images of small molecules proteins. Twenty-five percent of 3D protein structures in the scientific literature were made and this software stands to remain one of the best open-source visualization tools available for use in structural biology. Our goal is to improve the functionality of PyMol for use at the International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition. This software will enhance the user experience for protein development by allowing the user to perform two tasks:

  1. Output the designed protein’s nucleotide or amino acid sequence to a text file and prepare the sequence for a gene synthesis company for gene placement order.
  2. Designs primers for mutagenesis reactions and prepare an excel file for primer order submission through Integrated DNA Technologies.

This software seeks to improve the functionality of biobrick parts and features a “Generate BioBrick” option allowing the user to generate the nucleotide sequence of the defined protein with the correct BioBrick Prefix and Suffix. We hope that this software will aid in the search for protein discovery for the work of future researchers and iGEM students around the world.

Community Outreach

For community outreach, the 2013 Rutgers iGEM team thought to visit a local High School in hopes of giving a presentation on the new and rising field of synthetic biology, and to educate the students about the excellent opportunities and experiences G.E.A.R.S. and iGEM can provide. During our search for the best suited High School, the team stumbled upon an advanced magnet High School that focuses on the sciences for their students futures. It is called The Academy for Health and Medical Sciences located in Bridgewater, New Jersey. This school hand selects its students from local districts, and caps its classes at 35 students per graduating class. The reason for all of this is because these students will take on a rigorous coursework of completing an Associates Degree in General Science and Mathematics from a local college over the course of the four years they have to also earn their High School diploma.

After hearing all this, the Rutgers iGEM team decided to take their talents to educating this fine group of young scholars, specifically their freshman class. The lesson plan was simple, yet very informative. A lecture was given on the basics synthetic biology, followed by a group construction of Rutgers iGEM team’s plasmid, and finally a discussion of potential advances that can be made in the world by using synthetic biology.

At the end of the day, everyone on the team pronounced the community outreach a complete success. The bright students did not fail to impress either. From actively listening to the presentation about synthetic biology; a field they all had not heard of before, and the clever applications they thought of such as cloud detecting thermosensing, and plaque-eating bacteria that can live in your mouth so you don’t have to brush your teeth. It was clear the students and teachers appreciated the hard work the Rutgers iGEM team put into this.