iGEMers of the Month, May; Anya
Anya was a member of the 2018 OLS Canmore iGEM Team. During her participation in iGEM Competiiton she led the Accessible iGEM to make our lab spaces and tools more accessible and functional, for individuals with physical disabilities. The team won the Chairman's award for contributions towards Science and Accesibility.
Anya also joined us during the Opening Weekend Festival for a panel session on Education and Accessibility in the SynBio Ecosystem and shared insights from her experiences. We are honored to have Anya in our iGEM community, and are excited to announce her as the iGEMer of the month.
We had a chat with Anya last month, let's take a look!
Your iGEM Project, and what inspired you
Our iGEM team worked on a project that would bio-tag PET plastics in order to make the sorting process more efficient. Initially, we wanted to work on the biodegradation of this kind of plastic, however during our research and outreach processes, experts in the field told us that it wasn’t the recycling of plastic waste that was the issue - it was the sorting process. Another key project that our team worked on was an initiative called Accessible iGEM, in which we looked at accessibility issues facing students with physical disabilities in the lab. This project was inspired by my own experience as a teenager with cerebral palsy interested in lab work, and the challenges that our team and PIs knew I would face. Over the course of the iGEM 2018 season, we looked at multiple different lab protocols before deciding to work on prototyping an accessible pipette, incorporating technologies from soft-close cabinet features in kitchen cupboards. Since the 2018 season, most of our team has graduated high school and gone their separate ways, and we have had a new group come into our team. The remaining members have introduced the project to our new team members, and they’re all really excited to continue the project and make science more accessible for all.
Favourite aspect of iGEM
I love iGEM because it’s really a place that celebrates and encourages diversity in pursuit of research, learning, excellence and a common goal. It goes out of its way to change the stereotypes of successful people in science, and succeeds. In our work on accessibility and more widely, the iGEM community has been incredibly supportive, and that is exactly what the world of science needs to strive forward together, particularly in light of this challenging time. As science becomes more and more important, it’s crucial that all are represented equally in the field, and iGEM is leading the charge to make that our new reality.
iGEM's role in choosing your current position and what's next
My iGEM experience has been exclusively within high school, and it has definitely instilled within me a love for biology and the life sciences. I’ve been inspired by my time in iGEM to study biology after high school, and hopefully go into medicine. I still have one year of high school left to complete (during which I hope to stay involved with the iGEM community), and then I hope to go to university to study neuroscience.
3 words. 3 key take-aways from your iGEM experience?
Inclusion, Inspiration, Drive
A Message of aspiring iGEMers
Go for it! Science is becoming an increasingly important field, particularly in light of current events, and the more representative of everyone science can be, the better it will be able to serve everyone in the world. Be prepared to challenge yourself to think outside of what you considered possible, and welcome to the adventure of a lifetime!