Tuesday, 29 May 2012

BioBlitz Event In Evington Park

On Saturday, the University of Leicester iGEM Team headed to Evington Park to join the BioBlitz event and tell the public about our project.

Anthony Cox and William Harrison.
Bioblitz events are a fantastic way for the community to get involved with the wildlife on their doorstep. The aim is to record as many different species as possible within a certain time frame and to encourage the public's interest and knowledge of local biodiversity. Scientists, students and the community come together in local green spaces for a great educational day out. This brings together people of all backgrounds, just like the Citizen Science aspect of our iGEM project.

Leicester City Council, in partnership with Groundwork Leicester and Leicestershire County Council have hosted Bioblitz events in the city's parks. These are becoming an annual event, receiving the support of City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby through his 100 Day Actions.

Bioblitz Evington Park, Sunday 27th May
Despite the sunshine, the park was initially quite quiet from 10am, giving Nathan the opportunity to create a few informational posters (and play on the nearby childrens' playground). The crowd picked up a little later, allowing us to tell the public about our project, sell some of our citizen science experiment kits, and give away some of the pens kindly donated to us by our friends in the University of Leicester Environment Team (at least when we weren't busy chasing kits and leaflets that were blowing away - it was a very windy day!). Both the iGEM team and the Bioblitz visitors enjoyed a gorgeous afternoon soaking up the sunshine and learning about the wildlife all around us.

We will also be taking part in the University of Leicester Environment team BioBlitz event on the 15th-16th June (for more information please visit www.le.ac.uk/environment/biodiversity), with the aim to identify at least 500 different species on the university estates.

Also this will be one of the last chances to pick yourself up a UoL Citizen Science experiment kit in person, so don't delay!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

A Gift From Heathrow Scientific

A huge thanks to our sponsor Heathrow Scientific: Literally delivering the goods!

Left to right: Anthony Cox, Luke Thompson, Christopher Morton,
and Mark Shelton.

We're all getting really excited as the iGEM lab at the University of Leicester is starting to take shape - this week we have received around £2000 worth of scientific equipment from our valued sponsors, Heathrow Scientific!

Dr Badge, Christopher, Luke and I met up with the company's Global Sales Director, Mark Shelton, in a University car park to receive the delivery: a trolley load of ex-display laboratory equipment. We had time to chat with Mark about the project and for him to take us through the collection of equipment and consumable items.

Luke Thompson, with a selection of the Equipment

The boxes of equipment included (amongst many other things) a cute mini-centrifuge, a very fancy orbital shaker, a Rota-Filler 3000 (a type of pipette filler for larger volumes) and a wide assortment of containers, dispensers and tube racks. The  racks included an adjustable universal test tube rack that you could turn upside down for easy emptying of liquids, which got Chris particularly excited!            

Alongside Bioline, IDT and Promega, Heathrow Scientific are a much appreciated sponsor of our project, and have come through with tangible support as we begin the process of getting the Leicester iGEM lab up and running.

Of course we will ensure that the new equipment will be put to good use over the summer and we'll be documenting how important this equipment is to the iGEM project on the wiki... perhaps we should have a competition to come up names for the kit?

It is fantastic that, despite the dire economic situation, companies like Heathrow Scientific are still able to come up with creative ways to support great ideas like iGEM, and their contribution is hugely significant.

Links to all of our sponsors websites can be found at the bottom of the home page of the blog.

Anthony Cox - Vice Project Leader

with help from
Christopher Morton - Project leader

Monday, 21 May 2012

In the Media

Within the last few days, the team has appeared several times in the media. Most notably, we appeared on the BBC website yesterday (20th May): http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk after Our Project leader Christopher Morton appeared on the Ben Jackson Show on BBC Radio Leicester (available on iPlayer until the 25th of may).

Today (21st May) we've appeared in Packaging News: http://www.packagingnews.co.uk/news

We also appeared in a University of Leicester press release on the 18th May (which can be read here: http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/press), so don't be surprised to see us crop up elsewhere shortly!

More can be found out about our citizen science experiment on the citizen science page. The kit can be bought here on the blog by the PayPal button to your left, however this is limited to the United Kingdom only. You can also email the team at igem@leicester.ac.uk for any questions or for alternate methods to buy a experiment kit.

Thank you,
Luke Thompson
Lab Leader

Friday, 18 May 2012

The Big tidy up!

On Wednesday the 16th of May, Dr Badge and I took part in the National Keep Britain Tidy campaign ‘The Big Tidy Up’ at the University of Leicester. Armed with a "Streetmaster" TM litter picker, gloves, recycling bags and hi vis jackets, we joined the Environment team and Contact volunteers to make Victoria Park (adjacent to the University) litter free!

From left to right, Dr Richard Badge and Christopher Morton.

Surprisingly there wasn't much litter about on this day with only 10 bags from the 10 volunteers  being collected from the whole of the park - it seems the City Council employees who look after the park are doing a great job! However we did still find a fair amount of polystyrene waste in the hedgerows and on the park. Its sobering to think that without our lunchtime litter picking, this polystyrene potentially could have outlived us, due to its chemically stable structure!

Although we didn't collect that much litter on the day , there is still a massive volume of polystyrene in our landfills and around the countryside of the United Kingdom. These locations, and even your back garden or allotment could potentially harbour the elusive polystyrene degrading microbe we are looking for for the iGEM project. This is why we need the public to help by undertaking our Citizen Science Experiment. The person to find the most active microbe using polystyrene as its sole carbon source will get the opportunity to have their name published on a research paper at the end of the project, as well as official University of Leicester iGEM team "Citizen Scientist" t-shirts.

To get involved in the experiment, you can buy a sampling kit here on the blog for a contribution of £2.00 + 50pence postage through the PayPay button to your left. Or you can email the team at igem@leicester.ac.uk for alternate methods to get your hands on a kit. Check out the Citizen Science Experiment tab for more information or you can always drop us an email with any questions.

Good luck!
Christopher Morton - Project leader.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Citizen Science Experiment kits are now available

It may be May day bank holiday here in the UK, but we've still been busy! which is why I'm pleased to announce the launch of our "Buy Now" Citizen Science button, which means the project is out of Beta and all you lovely people reading this blog can now have the opportunity to get one of our University of Leicester environmental sampling pack, even if you are not able to meet one of our team. The cost of the kits and processing will be offset by a contribution of £2 when bought from one of the team members. You can however now purchase here on our Blog through the PayPal button on the left for a extra 50pence postage to send the kit to your address. For more information about the experiment, and an instructional video please visit the citizen Science Experiment Tab along the top bar.

Unfortunately this experiment is UK only due to time and postage constraints.
If you experience any problems with the PayPal button, need a helping hand, want to buy multiple kits to increase your chances of finding the microbe, or wish to buy using a alternate method please don't hesitate to email us at igem@leicester.ac.uk

Also, we are pleased to announce we are now tweeting, http://twitter.com/#!/iGEMLeicester .
The main use of this will be let people gain an insight into the more informal goings on of the life of the University of Leicester iGEM team, keeping people up to date with the behind the scenes. As well as tweeting about fundraising events as they are happening.

Hope you all enjoy your Bank Holiday,
Christopher Morton - Project leader. 

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Good News Everyone

This week we had great news from our corporate sponsor Heathrow Scientific! Mark Shelton, the company's Global Sales Director, will be coming to Leicester in a few weeks to delivery a van load of ex-display laboratory equipment, and to meet the iGEM team (photos to follow!). It is fantastic that, despite the dire economic situation, companies are still able to come up with creative ways to support great ideas like iGEM. Of course we'll be documenting how important this equipment is to the iGEM project on the wiki... perhaps we should have a competition to come up names for the kit. 

In other news we're really going to have to get the iGEM lab organised - the iGEM mothership lab will be shipping the 2012 "distribution kits" in the next two weeks! These kits are the microwell plates containing the standard DNA parts for teams to use in the project - the parts are fairly stable for shipping but need to be kept safe - each well contains only enough plasmid DNA to transform into bacterial cells, so we'll have to make sure that our microbiological technique is up to scratch before we start.

Post by Dr Richard Badge