Team:Uppsala Universitet/Public Engagement


Biotechnology will have a growing role in solving the problems of the world. This will be true in many different fields, including: medicine, renewable materials, agriculture or food production. We felt that it was our responsibility to not only talk about the role that lignin-derived building blocks, generated by genetically modified yeast could play. We also wanted to spread awareness about the growing impact that biotechnology will have on human lives in the future. We set ambitious targets to meet, converse and interact with people that have diverse backgrounds in a multitude of different forums. Some of our interactions are documented on this page while some additional ones are part of our Integrated Human Practice.

Engagement of High School Students

We believe that it is very important that high school students get the information and inspiration they need to make good career choices in the future. As a result, we decided to join the effort!


On the first occasion, we gave a presentation for high school students at Kunskapsgymnasiet in Uppsala. We talked to senior students about synthetic biology and about our project. We also provided them with general advice regarding how to plan their senior project, and what we had learned about running a project throughout our iGEM experience.

It has been a great practice of presentation skills for our team. It is a necessary skill of every presenter to be able to adjust the language and use various communication tools in order to reach the audience. To communicate our ideas with high school students we had to refrain from complex terminology while still keeping the content exciting. We believe that we inspired our listeners and motivated some of them to become interested in synthetic biology. We also gave them some general advice about projects, which they can apply already during their own senior project.

Help with a senior high-school project in synthetic biology

On the second occasion, a group of high school students from Rosendalsgymnasiet reached out to us seeking advice regarding their senior project focused on synthetic biology. They aimed to use Agrobacterium tumefaciens for gene transfer of green fluorescent protein into a plant. We met three students on 25th of September and discussed their project idea thoroughly. Whereas Uppsala iGEM team gained some experience in teaching and helped the students to set up an experimental plan for their senior project, the students will hopefully succeed with their project.

Reaching out to the Public

Another target group of our outreach was the general public. We spread information about synthetic biology, iGEM and the impact our project might have through hosting a conference, interacting on social media and getting interviewed by a student newspaper.


BioEntrepreneurship Conference

Together with iGEM Stockholm, we organised an open BioEntrepreneurship conference. This gave everyone who participated an opportunity to gain valuable information about translating ideas into industrial projects. Details about this event can be found on our Collaboration page or page of Integrated Human Practice.

Learning outcome?

During prototyping workshop, the participants learnt how important it is to visualise the problem at hand, to communicate with potential customers and to investigate their needs. We were sorted into randomly selected groups that built a simple prototype in just 30 minutes!

"If you build a prototype which people can touch, they will show you how they would use it. Only then will you understand how you should adapt your product!"

Participants were also informed about where to find support for transforming a scientific idea into product.

Social Media

We were frequently using social media, mainly Facebook and Instagram, to communicate with the public. We shared information about the current status of our project but also spread general knowledge and informed about interesting events. In the initial stages of our project, we organized livestreams of our brainstorming session to show how the iGEM work looks like and receive useful feedback. Later on we informed about the existence of iGEM competition and about basics of synthetic biology. A short introduction of all of the lab groups and subgroups that are in the team and the work they do were also made. We also explained what lignin is and our plan on how we would degrade it.

Techna Newspaper Interview

Techna is a student driven newspaper that comes out with a quarterly newsletter. It focuses on writing about anything and everything affecting science and technology students, including activities they are involved in. We were interviewed by the student reporter Ruta Upite. She asked us about how the project was going, our support from the university and some of the difficulties we experienced while doing the project. This interview will eventually be featured in their newsletter coming out at the end of October, 2019. Students and everyone interested in the subject from the public will get to learn about this topic.

Reaching out to Fellow University Students of Different Backgrounds

The third group we introduced the topics of synthetic biology and iGEM to were our fellow university-level students. These students had various different backgrounds ranging from IT students, engineering students to natural science students. While the events described on this page were all organized, there were many times when we simply reached out and talked about us, iGEM and our experiences.

STING festival

The STING festival is a fair that is aimed toward first year students in engineering and natural sciences. The goal is to introduce new students to associations related to Uppsala University which includes iGEM. We had a stand at the festival and educated students about iGEM and synthetic biology. This allowed us to communicate our project to new university students by talking to them and handing out fliers about our project. We got a chance to practise how to present our project to students with varying background without the help of a powerpoint presentation. The students at the fair were motivated to participate in iGEM during the upcoming years and were encouraged to apply for project-based learning experiences in general.

Presentation to SynBio course

We gave a brief presentation of our project to bioengineering students participating in a synthetic biology summer course in Uppsala. This was a good opportunity to practise presenting the more technical aspects of our project and receive valuable feedback from students with a background in the topic. Many questions were asked, which allowed us to experience answering more in-depth questions that made us aware of the importance of being knowledgeable about even the smallest details about the project. The participants which already knew the basics of synthetic biology got to know more about iGEM and hopefully some of them were inspired to take part in the competition during the following years!

Interviewed by Korean Students about Education and Project Based Learning

One of our lab leaders, Jonas, was interviewed by exchange students from Korea who run a blog and also write in a newspaper about their experiences in Sweden. They were primarily interested in the forms of education and project-based learning like iGEM, since their university offers no courses with this educational model. Jonas was able to give them insights into the benefits and challenges of being part of competitions like iGEM. The discussion highlighted the different educational models between countries. Jonas initiated discussion in our team about the iGEM model of education and how to make use of the opportunity that we have. We think that project-based learning offers a unique opportunity for development of independence, planning skills and ability to overcome problems.

Sting festival.
Sting festival.

SynBio Hour

SynBio Hour is an annual lunch event hosted by iGEM Uppsala. Here we had a lunch lecture where we provided lunch for the attendees and presented our project. Since this was at the late stage of our project, it was a valuable occasion to present a version of the presentation similar to the one that is going to be held at the jamboree in Boston. In addition, we talked about iGEM and how to apply for the Uppsala iGEM team of 2020. This event was a unique opportunity for promoting the iGEM competition as a great learning experience for new university students. We made sure that the tradition of iGEM at Uppsala University will continue!

Course Information Day at EBC

The Course Information Day at Evolutionary Biology Centre in Uppsala is a fair where natural science students get information about what courses they can take during their studies. Since Uppsala University offers academic credits for the iGEM project, it can be taken as a course! We participated in the fair by informing students about the option to include iGEM in their degree and sharing our enthusiasm.

Student Conference

Student Conference

Every year a student conference is held at Uppsala University by TekNat (Technology and Natural Science Faculty). The conference is organised by students for students and this year iGEM was contributing with a presentation of our project in order to reach out to students and inform them about the opportunity of participating in iGEM and about the impact of synthetic biology on the world.

Uppsala iGEM team in the iGEM community

Apart from reaching outside of iGEM community, we also develop contacts with other iGEM teams during two other events which are not mentioned on other parts of our wiki.

BioBrick Tutorial

Nordic iGEM Conference 2019

We participated in a three-day meet-up with Scandinavian iGEM teams held in Copenhagen. The event started with playing games in mixed teams in which we got to know each other a bit better. Later, a poster session was held and every team gave a presentation of their project. We were inspired by the level of progress of other iGEM teams and decided to work even harder!

BioBrick Tutorial

Before the actual lab part of the project started, we were invited to copenhagen where the Technical University of Copenhagen held a “BioBrick tutorial”. Here we took part in lectures about iGEM, tried working with BioBricks and participated in valuable workshops. We came into contact with other teams and were able to talk about our project. We also learned how the process of having a project in synthetic biology differs between different teams.