The UM team had been devoting to the preparation for the 2021 International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition for almost a year to compete with 343 teams from 47 countries and regions in iGEM competition and finally won a silver medal. UM’s iGEM team consists of 23 undergraduates from Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS), Faculty of Business Administration (FBA) and Faculty of Arts and Humanities (FAH). The students have developed their research abilities, broadened their horizons, improved their communication skills and enriched various learning experiences during the whole process.
The aim of the iGEM project was to reduce the purine content in beer by using bioengineering technology and slow down the oxidation rate of the beer without the adding antioxidants but still maintaining the unique flavor of beer. FHS Year 3 student Yingyi MEI is the team captain, who is responsible for designing and organizing the whole project scheme and the smooth running of the project. Yingyi MEI indicated that she has learned how to put her knowledge into practice and manage time effectively for striking the right balance between the competition and her studies.
Rui QI and Dingchen ZHU, who are the Year 3 students of FHS, are the leaders of wet lab. They had been overseeing the experiments design and troubleshooting. They thought that the strong spirit of compromise and cooperation among all the team members enabled them to complete the project against all the odds, and it was a precious chance for improving their communication skills. Moreover, they have learnt how to sort out and present their research results, in which they enriched their research experiences and identified their passions for scientific research. Hongkun FU, Heming KANG, Ting SU, Liangying CHEN, Jiajie YIN, Di YU and Yonglin YU are the wet lab group members.
Qiyue ZHANG, a Year 4 student of FBA, and Qiwen LIANG, a Year 3 student of FHS are the leaders of human practice group, which consists of Mengdi LI, Xiaonan HE, Yuanming HE, Sihan XU. They mainly worked on promotion of their project, including the conduction of the survey and the production of the promotional videos. Qiyue ZHANG said that the involvement of the project can bridge the gap between the textbook knowledge and the reality. Xiaonan HE pointed out that they constantly revised their promotional strategies in accordance with the change of the epidemic situation, and addressed different problems accordingly. She found out that strong team spirit and flexibility in adapting to changes were crucial to the success of a group project.
Songxiang TANG, a Year 3 student of FHS, is the leader of information technology group which includes Xiaowei TAN and Yuwen LIN. They are responsible for establishing, modifying, updating, and maintaining the whole iGEM website. In addition, they built mathematical models with mathematics and statistics to predict the shelf life of beer and to monitor the fermentation of yeast. Facing many difficulties, with a strong will, they have overcome various barriers with joint efforts.
Luoyi YANG, a Year 3 student of FAH, and three FHS students, Xuan ZHANG, Yicheng CAI, Qianhua MA offered secretarial support to the team. They organized documents and records, arranged schedules and meetings, and performed skilled clerical work. They reflected that undertaking the administrative secretary job has strengthened their organization skills. Moreover, this precious experience nourished their university lives.
The students are all grateful for the supervision and support from FHS Associate Professors Leo Tsz On LEE, Chris Koon Ho WONG and Kin Ip TAM. Students all thought that they have earned higher professional capacities, stronger communication skills and higher flexibility in adapting to changes through their participation in the iGEM project.