After a few teething problems, such as sorting out laptops and learning how to use the Wiki, we all managed to start some really constructive brainstorming. We were divided up into pairs to start preparing presentations on various synthetic biology-related topics, such as Human Practices, Characterisation Methods and Assembly Methods. This allowed each pair to read up on the subject and teach everyone else in the team about it.
Our first day of iGEM was also our first day of getting used to being filmed by Kelly Neaves and Dominic Rees-Roberts, who, having already completed PhDs in the biological sciences, were on a course in Science Media Production at Imperial. Like us, they were funded by the Wellcome Trust.
Two students from the RCA called David Benqué and Gerrit Kaiser ran a Creativity Workshop on Monday afternoon which really helped us, as our brainstorming sessions were becoming less and less productive as the day wore on. They demonstrated how important it was to keep a sense of perspective when coming up with ideas.
On Monday afternoon, we were given some mini-lectures by directors of the different groups within the CSynBI. This helped us to know who to get in contact with when we needed help on certain areas of our project.
We participated in a Human Practices Workshop on Tuesday, which was organised by Susanna Finlay, a PhD student at LSE who also works in the CSynBI. We first discussed some of issues associated with synthetic biology, and were then divided up into small groups and given a case study of a synthetic biology application. After discussing some of the ethical, legal and social implications (ELSIs) of each application, we presented our ideas to the other groups. This workshop started us thinking of our design in terms of biosafety and what kind of application we wanted to develop.
On Tuesday afternoon we each did a mini-presentation of our favourite past iGEM project, which enabled us to get a feel for the iGEM competition, while at the same time allowing us to see what is feasible in terms of getting results in a short space of time.
Our first meeting with our advisors was on Wednesday morning, and really pushed us to make decisions when it came to which ideas we wanted to develop further, and which ones we had to discard. The feedback from the advisors was generally positive, but at the same time it forced us to rule certain ideas out.
Thursday was spent on further development and research of our ideas.
On Friday, we had another meeting with the advisors. We discussed our progress so far, and also started talking about other aspects of our project, like Human Practices and modelling. This was our first Cake Friday, and Kyasha managed to set the bar sky-high with a delicious mint chocolate cake.