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Queen’s University team recognized for innovation presentation 0

By Katrina Geenevasen, Kingston This Week

The group of students who formed International Genetically Engineered Machine Team at Queen’s University work in their laboratory located in the Queen’s University Biosciences complex.     Rob Mooy, Kingston This Week

The group of students who formed International Genetically Engineered Machine Team at Queen’s University work in their laboratory located in the Queen’s University Biosciences complex. Rob Mooy, Kingston This Week

Students on the Queen’s Genetically Engineered Machine Team are celebrating a major success this fall, having been awarded a gold medal and the “Best Model” award at the iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) regional competition in Pittsburgh.

Over the summer, the team researched ways to use bacteria to create economical and innovative alternatives to bioremediation. They coined their project “ChimeriQ.”

In October, they presented their findings at the iGEM Regional Championships, which hosted more than 40 teams. It was there they received recognition for months of hard work.

It was the way in which they presented their findings that made them so effectively stand out from the crowd. They were inspired by Dr. John Bohannon’s Dance Your PhD contest, which asks researchers to turn their theses into a dance video, and so the students decided to use dance to present their research with the help of Kingston chorographer Devon Ryan.

While Kevin Chen, project manager, spoke to the audience about the group’s complex theories, the dancers used their dramatic arts skills to help explain the concepts to the audience.

“The idea was that we wanted to use dance to represent our research and do it in our presentation. Our strategy was to have dancers do representations or movement to explain what we’re talking about with regards to our research,” said Kevin Chen, project manager and fourth-year biochemistry student at Queen’s.

Because of this unique take on science, Chen said their presentation was unlike any other, and they won the Best Model award as a result.

“It was pretty exciting, especially because of the whole unique aspect of having dance in our presentation, it made our presentation stick out a lot more,” said Chen. “To fit all the presentations into one weekend, they had a few presentations going on at the same time, so people had to pick and choose the presentations they went to, but the auditorium we were presenting in was packed. Everyone wanted to see it, because it was so different.”

“No one else did anything else like this,” continued Chen.

The teams originality and creativity made them one of the two Canadian teams that advanced to the World Finals, which were held at MIT in Boston.

Although the team didn’t bring home an award from the finals competition, they’re still basking in their post-win glow. They can still hardly believe they achieved that they did—and did so in front of such a large audience.

“It was awesome, it’s hard to describe,” said Chen.

Now that both competitions are over, it falls to next year’s Queen iGem team to take over. Applications to be part of the team are already being accepted.

 

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