As we embark on our second Chapter of the Ambassador Diaries in Africa, I’m thrilled to report that awareness of iGEM and enthusiastic support for SynBio in Africa are on the rise. Just last week, I had the honor of representing iGEM and After iGEM to a community of young scientists and innovators at the Biokmt Youth empowerment in Science event. The event brought together undergraduate students who presented their work in a friendly yet competitive atmosphere. I was incredibly grateful tothe organizers of Biokmt for giving me a platform to attend and represent the foundation.
I was thrilled to see so many amazing projects ranging a wide spectrum of topics starting from the development of bioinformatics pipelines to HCV vaccinations. CU iGEM team was also there with an impressive presentation introducing their project idea and their current progress in the competition. By the end of the event, we went over the details of how to participate in iGEM, tips regarding participation in Egypt and overcoming challenges in SynBio in the region. The amount of interest in iGEM was overwhelming and was indeed overwhelmingly exciting to see so many bright young minds interested in our cause.
I also got the chance to attend the Falling Walls Lab organized by the DAAD- an annual event where Egyptian researchers get to present their research projects in under 3 minutes and the winner announced represents Egypt at the Falling Walls Lab in Berlin, November 2019. So many walls were torn down fields such as - diabetic nephropathy, waste recycling, educational tools and production of energy. During the event, I got to interact with researchers and introduce iGEM to them. I have strong hopes to see a “Breaking Walls in SynBio” talk in next year’s competition.
On the other hand, I met with the AFCM-Egypt iGEM team to consult on the various events they are planning as a part of their Human Practices agenda. The team has big plans for their education and public engagement front that I’m proud to help with. Work is also well underway in the preparation of an iGEM Bootcamp aimed at introducing iGEM to potential participants from various universities in the region. Since the start of 2019, I’ve met an array of amazing people and worked with limitless talents who are all sharing the same purpose and it’s been so much fun seeing how this network of enthusiasts is growing right before my eyes.