I’m curious Yagiz (if scientists can ask questions too) Does your synthetic biology team have a lab somewhere to do experiments and where do they get their funding from? does your supervisor pay for this too? It is very cool to have highschool students involved in research, and it was something i wanted to do for work experience, but didnt think labs let highschool students do research with them.
Hi Miranda, great question! 🙂
In our first year both the funding and a lab space were biggest problems. I figured out a way out of this situation by incorporating our synthetic biology group with a newly introduced undergraduate unit (unit outline wasn’t clear then) therefore we would be able to work in university labs as some of our members would be enrolled into this unit. We didn’t have to pay for reagents or anything using the same formula. I sorted out our initial funding by raising funds from several institutes in the Macquarie Uni. Fundraising is something I’m quite good at. But I could only raise ~ $12K in our first year. Still we did a great job and got a bronze medal. In the following years, I kept liaising with people from and outside the university. Last year, I raised ~$43K for our group. This enabled us to do great human outreach campaigns in NSW and we were able to send 9 students to iGEM to represent Australia. I’m really really thankful to Dept. of Industry Innovation Science & Research especially, who tremendously supported us. Due to our success in previous years, we gained access to use 2012-make brand new molecular biology teaching labs.This year, I’m hoping to exceed $50K (hopefully). It may look a lot but it is not that much actually when you think about all the activities we are performing. For the first time, I aiming to target communities outside NSW (hopefully we will go VIC, QLD and SA) and we will select and sponsor a group of enthusiastic students (10-15) across these states to undertake Science Boot Camp at Macquarie Uni which would be awesome. My ultimate goal is to establish synthetic biology teams in every major university in Australia and eventually to form a synthetic biology network through these teams.
My supervisor has nothing to do with my synbio initiative. I’m glad to hear that you are interested in a similar experience. We would always need scientists like you who have good science communication skills (believe me there are not much out there, real scientists with good comm. skills). If we can sort out the money for organizing the science boot camp (it is general science not Synthetic biology only), would you like to come to Sydney to teach science to high school students? (We can organise your travel & accommodation but no stipend…)