What is iGEM?

The international Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) organization is a highly accomplished synthetic biology competition aimed mostly towards undergraduates. It began in 2003 as a course at MIT and has since expanded to 313 teams registered worldwide for the 2017 competition

A competition?

Yes! Each year, the iGEM Jamboree is an international conference hosted in Boston, MA that brings together the brightest minds in the field of synthetic biology. It is the largest and one of the only synthetic biology competitions for high school, collegiate, and entrepreneurial teams. iGEM teams improve upon an existing project or develop a new one each year, projects pertaining to the development of synthetic biology systems for application in society. They analyze the project through their various subdivisions' outlooks, and come together at the end to present the project and have it evaluated at the iGEM Jamboree alongside international teams.

What can I expect out of participating with iGEM McMaster (mGEM)?

iGEM helps teams gain knowledge and skills by participating in developing their synthetic biology project in multiple ways. Briefly, and amongst a diverse array of tasks and projects:

  • Dry Lab members gain knowledge in programming, 3D modeling, and assay analysis. 
  • Wet Lab members are mentored to learn how to perform assays, follow scientific protocols, experiment under time constraints, understand how to modify cellular parts, and work in a lab. 
  • Human Practices members learn how to reach out to and conduct interviews with experts in the community and Canada to learn about the ethics and policies surrounding the topic of the project, read scientific literature, disseminate scientific knowledge, and write discussion papers.
  • Outreach members, split into two subteams including the Graphics subteam, either help with mentorship to high school students through our annual workshops and liaison with community members is performed, or help us develop our social media platforms and marketing, along with helping ever sub team with graphics-related needed (including those presented at the Jamboree).
  • Business Development members develop grant-writing and financial skills, reaching out to sponsors and supporting us in operating our financial needs. 

Altogether, iGEM helps students gain a depth of understanding in not just their fields of expertise in their own subteams, but also through cross-collaboration the real world applications and potential impacts of scientific research on the community and their future.

When Does Recruitment Start/How can I Join mGEM?

We typically enter into a transition period after each Giant Jamboree (this latter event occurring in late fall, from around October to November). The transition takes a few weeks. After this period is settled (now around late November to mid December), recruitment opens up.

Recruitment occurs in a two-step process:

  1. Written applications will be released on the homepage of mgem.ca and on all of our social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram). All written applications are then reviewed by our executive members, and candidates will then be notified of whether or not they have attained an interview.

  2. Candidates at the interview stage will then meet with their potential subteam head along with one other executive. After interviews, all candidates will then receive news of their status on the team.

What was your most recent project like?

You can learn more about all of our past projects here!