Team:Athens/Public Engagement



Education & Public Engagement


Our team has put a great amount of thought, planning and work for education and public engagement; and it has been one of the most interesting and rewarding endeavors! Scroll down and click on the images to find out more!

1st Synthetic Biology Event @ NTUA

We are the first ever iGEM team to collaborate with IEEE (Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers) in order to promote Synthetic Biology to the public. We approached IEEE as we were inspired by the very own central vision of the Institute, that is “to foster technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity”, quoting the IEEE mission statement. Τhis is a principle we highly value as a team and one that we specifically tried to communicate to others through our Human Practices. For more info on IEEE mission, vision and prospective goals, click here.

In our cooperation, one of the things we did was coordinate and co-organize a Synthetic Biology Event at the National Technical University of Athens, in collaboration with the Engineering in Medicine and Biology Chapter (EMB) of the IEEE NTUA Student Branch. The event was under the official auspices of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) of the NTUA and took place in the Multimedia Amphitheater of the Central Library of our university.

At the beginning of the event, the IEEE NTUA EMB Chapter presented selected projects in the area of Biomedical Engineering, that drew special attention, indicating the strong interconnection of academic disciplines and the amazing results of interdisciplinary collaboration.
During the event, the participants were introduced to the main principles of Synthetic Biology, expanding their knowledge on relevant research. Our main goal was for our fellow students to realize that the combination of knowledge and skills from different academic backgrounds is the key to competitive and productive scientific research. Furthermore, the iGEM Competition was extensively presented, as well as our specific research proposal.
Upon the event’s completion, an open discussion was organized with the participation of representatives of both the IEEE NTUA EMB Chapter and the IEEE NTUA Student Branch. It was a memorable event for all of us and we were truly pleased with the genuine motivation and interest all participants showed!

A few words about the IEEE NTUA EMB chapter

IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS) is the world’s largest international society of biomedical engineers. EMBS provides its members with access to the people, practices, information, ideas and opinions that are shaping one of the fastest growing fields in science. This global community consists of members interested in bioinformatics, biotechnology, clinical engineering, information technology, instrumentation and measurement, micro and nanotechnology, radiology, and robots. They are researchers and educators, technicians and clinicians—biomedical engineers are the link between science and life science, creating innovations in healthcare technology for the benefit of all humanity.

As a proud member of this global community, the IEEE NTUA EMB Chapter is the Student Branch of EMBS in Athens! Through its various programs and initiatives, it aims to train its members, provide incentive to compete in bio-engineering competitions and incubate new, viable ideas and projects by providing guidance and technical knowledge. After a year of full commitment on the above-mentioned values and organizational structure, IEEE NTUA EMB Chapter has been receiving positive, encouraging comments, which were accompanied by its Award as the best Regional Student Branch of EMB Society in Europe for 2019.

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Answering questions from our audience!
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Fani talking about the various applications of Synthetic Biology!
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Members of the IEEE NTUA EMB chapter inform students about their projects and work!
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Dimitris Lampros, from the IEEE NTUA EMB chapter, greets the audience at the beginning of the event.
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Caption Three
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trying on a wearable device which students from the EMB are working with in one of their projects!
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Our team together with members of the IEEE NTUA EMB chapter, at the end of our event!

Athens Science Festival 2019

As part of reaching out to a larger number of people, our team had the unique opportunity of participating in this year’s Athens Science Festival! The Athens Science Festival is a well established annual event and is righteously considered as one of the largest Science and Technology Festival in Greece! This year alone, the Festival attracted more than 20.000 visitors, of all ages and backgrounds!

Especially for the A.S.F., we prepared interactive presentations, original games, quizzes and much more. Games were designed based on the age group and were also impromptu customized to each visitor of our booth. For our younger visitors, we printed out biology-themed sketches for them to color. We, also, prepared a “write your name with DNA” game where kids would use the genetic code to write their names with nucleotides! For our older visitors, we designed two games of gradually increasing difficulty. In the first game, people were asked to recreate a simple genetic circuit (promoter - gene - terminator) so as to become more familiar with the basic gene elements and the principles of gene expression and regulation. In the second game, the players were asked to solve a given problem by constructing a genetic circuit on their own! The goal was for the players to gain a better understanding of genetic engineering and Synthetic Biology, as well as of key features such as genetic modularity!

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Our team at the Athens Science Festival 2019!
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The little ones had the chance to write their names using DNA base pairs!
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Demonstrating bacterial colonies to our little visitor!
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Nikolas and Marilena, two of our team's members.
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Jason informing visitors about our team and what we do.
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Marilena, Nikolas and Jason at our team's stand!
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Creating words using the genetic code!
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Jason checking on our presentation.
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Anna explaining one of the two games we designed for the Athens Science Festival!
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Sandra with our official mascot - and Marilena's pet -, Eva!
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Sandra playing games with a SynBio twist with the kids!
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Fani, Marilena and Anastassis along with Maria and Leda from the iGEM Athens 2018 team, who joined us on the last day of the event!
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Biology-inspired coloring sheets for our younger visitors!
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We created our games' components DIY!
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Anastassis holding our pet Arabidopsis.
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Finding and explaining the differences between yeast and bacterial colonies.

Cafe Scientifique

Cafe Scientifique is an international organization whose “meetings take place in cafes, bars, restaurants and even theatres, but always outside a traditional academic context” (as stated on its main website), with an aim for public-friendly presentations in a relaxed atmosphere so that anyone can come and explore the latest ideas in science and technology.

We were officially invited on Cafe Scientifique Athens by its organizer, Dr. Lila Koumandou, to host the event of the month! Thanks to this wonderful event, we had the opportunity to address a vibrant audience, comprised of people (students, academics, even seniors!) who all share a great passion for Science! We presented the principles of Synthetic Biology, the iGEM competition, and all aspects of our team’s work. What’s more, we were privileged to enjoy a great interaction with our audience that night. Following our presentation, we all embarked upon a very fruitful discussion, where very interesting remarks, comments and questions were heard!

We are glad we had the chance to be a part of the Cafe Scientifique, which supports a mission of paramount importance to us; making Science (and specifically, Synthetic Biology) accessible and understood by all, without any barriers!

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Fani talking about how Synthetic Biology can benefit the environment.
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Jason opened this event, introducing the audience to the principles of Synthetic Biology.
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Nikolas describing how we can implement logic gates in genetic circuits.
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Anastassis presenting our project.

1st Greek iGEM MeetUp

Hosted in the city of Larissa, we had the opportunity to meet other fellow Greek iGEMers, and spend with them a wonderful weekend full of interesting lectures, networking and fun recreational activities!
It was a most productive process to talk about our research project and receive feedback from people who are directly associated with the iGEM Competition! Furthermore, we had the honor to meet an After iGEM Ambassador - Thea Chrystostomou, who, since then, has supported our team actively, especially in establishing the iGEM Aptamer’s Hub!

We congratulate team iGEM Thessaly for the impeccable organization and we commit to support similar initiatives in the future!

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Sandra, Nikolas, Jason and Fani at the Meetup venue.
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Jason and Nikolas at the ancient Theater of Larissa!
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Playing a game with the other participants!
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Night out with our amazing friends!
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Jason presenting our project to our fellow iGEMers, PIs and iGEM Ambassadors!
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Sightseeing around Larissa
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Caption Three
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25th Scientific Congress of Hellenic Medical Students & Junior Doctors

Together with other Greek iGEM teams, we joined our forces in introducing the world of Synthetic Biology to the participants of the 25th SCHMS. The SCHMS is the largest student-run scientific congress in Greece, and one of the largest in Europe, attracting more than 2.500 students and junior scientists every year. We specifically seeked to participate in it, in order to address this audience. Along with teams iGEM Thessaly and iGEM Thessaloniki, we held the first Synthetic Biology round table to ever be organized at the SCHMS! Our presentation included the latest progress and prospective applications of Synthetic Biology in Medicine and we really hope we inspired tomorrow’s medical doctors to explore the fascinating field of Synthetic Biology!

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Athina, from iGEM Thessaly, presenting her topic
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Group photo at the end of our round table!
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The SCHMS is the largest student-run scientific congress in Greece!
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Aliki (iGEM Thessaloniki 2019), Athina (iGEM Thessaly), Nikolas (iGEM Athens 2019) and Apostolos(iGEM Thessaloniki 2019)
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Nikolas, from our team, presenting his part!

International Biology Olympiad 2019

Each year, four high school students are selected through the national biology contest to represent Greece at the International Biology Olympiad! In this context, the Panhellenic Union of Bioscientists organizes an intensive training for the students, in order to prepare them as well as possible, in terms of theoretical knowledge and practical skills. Being part of this training this year was undoubtedly a special moment of our journey. Among our team members, there are three former Science Olympiad participants (Fani - IBO 2013 & IBO 2014, Nikolas - IBO 2015 and Jason - IChO 2016), who can testify on this; participating in a Science Olympiad is somehow life-changing, serving as a long-term source of inspiration and motivation. It was our honor to be the first to introduce these charismatic young scientists to Synthetic Biology!

UNIque Days @ NTUA

UNIque Days is an annual 3-day event organized by the Non-Profit Organization “Unique Minds” and whose main purpose is to fill the gap between school and university by guiding young people to identify their true needs and talents, encouraging them to pursue their passion despite social norms or gender-based stereotypes. Students and parents arrive to Athens from every place of the country to attend this event, which provides thorough information on all possible options and opportunities that the different Schools and Faculties have to offer. It is remarkable that UNIque Days started off as a university student initiative, and quickly grew to large-scale happening with an astonishing number of thousands of visitors.

Our team was kindly invited to participate in the UNIque Days 2019 for the Schools of NTUA. As a university student group, we were there, as a tangible example of how one can enrich his/her student years by getting involved with something special, such as the iGEM Competition! Hundreds of students passed by our stand to learn more about our team and about iGEM and we definitely tried our best to be a positive influence in their professional orientation!

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Our team + Maria from iGEM Athens 2018, at the UNIque Days 2019 event!
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Jason and Danae, memer of IEEE NTUA
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Anastassis explaining our novel aptazyme design!
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Jason informing students and their parents
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Researcher’s Night 2019

The Researcher’s Night is an event held every year on the last Friday of September, in more than 300 European cities! Scientists invite visitors to do research, carry out experiments and discover new ideas, with the ultimate goal being to facilitate direct and personal contacts between the public, science and industry and to enhance understanding and appreciation for each other. To this end, the Researcher’s Night offers events for young children, for school and university students, as well as for anyone interested in science. Visitors can meet researchers from their region, get insights into their lives and work, and learn more about the importance of research for our everyday life. We couldn’t miss the chance to be part of something like this. More specifically, as participants in the event, we held two workshop sessions for groups of twenty people, mainly high school students, at a time. In these settings, we were able to not only talk with the students for Science, but we also enjoyed a fruitful conversation on Bioethics! We were stunned by the students’ knowledge, understanding and imagination, which we hope to have further enhanced!

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We held two workshop sessions, mainly for high school students
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During our discussion on Bioethics, the participants would show if they agreed or disagreed with specific statements by raising the green or red card, respectively.
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Photo of us along with our friends Damianos, Dimitris and Stavros, who joined us that night!
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Sandra and Jason holding the second workshop session of the night
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Sandra had designed a poster especially for this event!
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Wikipedia articles to raise awareness

While searching for literature on Synthetic Biology, we realized that there is lack of information on these topics in Greek language. Therefore, we thought that it would be a great idea to contribute to the scientific literature in our language. We approached this by using Wikipedia, which is a widely used and well-known online encyclopedia and decided to write about the field of Synthetic Biology in general, and Ribozymes, which we use in our project. By using this website, it will be more easily accessed as an educational tool for the public that understands Greek. We hope that whoever discovers our articles will learn something new and interesting.