iGEM experiences

Hello everybody!  I’m Meritxell Notari and I’m 25 (almost 26), I’m a Biology graduate by the Universitat de València, later specialized in gentics. I took part on the 2008 iGEM with a project called “The hot yeast Project”  (http://2008.igem.org/Team:Valencia) and I’m gonna telll you which has been my experience with synthetic biology till the present day:

My adventure at iGEM began during the 2007/2008 academic course during a molecular genetics lesson, where a guy called Arnau, introduced us a new concept in biology called sythetic biology, focusing particularly on iGEM . After this, the first thing I thought was: “How wierd! isn’t it? It would be nice to take part on this project!”. During that academic course, 2007/2008, I was part of the Universitat de València’s Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department Universitat de València, as an intern student, with professor Mercè Pamblanco. I told her my intentions to get into this world,  her answer was unsurpassable and she also helped me in everything she could: contacting advisors, telling when the synthetic biology courses and days took place… from then on everything was rolling on till the day I was told I was part of the Valencia-iGEM’08 Team!

The project with we took part was called “The hot yeast Project”, in which we charaterized a yeast which was able to keep its temperature and, as a consequence, was able to sustain the culture without any external energy input (electricity).We characterized different yeast strains with UCP1 protein (positive control, negative and two strians with different delections) supplied by Eduardo Rial from CIB-CISC. In fact, these strains were able to increase their culture media temperature. Besides, we characterized their growing kinetics and the temperature increasing results adjust with each stran own growing kinetics. This means, the bigger is the time the yeast spends in completing exponential growing phase, longer they spend to increase the medium temperature. Both controls, postitve and negative don’t increase their temperature at all, but they suffer a progressive decreasing of the temperature, as expected according to Newton’s cooling law. These results are on the paper published on  New Biotechonology (Vol. 26, N. 6, December 2009) titled: “Yeast cultures with UCP1 uncoupling activity as a heating device” .

My main work was working at the wet lab, although we were very few people on it, everyboy did all the tasks requiered to reach the project’s objectives.

It was a magnificent summer (with part of spring and autum) that I wouldn’t change for anything at all  and I’d repeat again if I had the chance. All the memories I keep, the best (like the NYC visit with my fellows, dinners, flats, the expected results…) the good ones (watching the job rewarded) and the not-so-good (argument that happen even in the best  of the families) are unique and unrepeatible -and you also can learn from them for your normal days.

It’s true that there are always things that you would change, but I don’t see it as a negative feature but as little details you can change and improve, as some kind of learning.

Whe iGEM is over, when you’re in Boston, yoy think “Guys it’s over! Carpe diem!”. You always keep memories, photos with you fellows, phone numbers you never erase… and all this stuff is coomo to the few lucky ones who have the chance to take part on iGEM. After my participation, I’ve been linked to the following editions: synthetic biology days, different projects I’ve the pleasure to share with different iGEM’08 team members, speaks to explain the project… it’s a feeling you can’t get rid of easily and I don’t want to get rid of.

Despite of the current situation, it’s always a bonus having some synthetic biology rudiements and having taking part on iGEM because, despite scientific world is pretty big, synthetic isn’t. Thanks to iGEM project I took part for a time on the BioModularH2  project, which encouraged me to retake my studies in the genetics field and be able to enrole in certain projects in which, before my iGEM time, I would have not been capable to enrole in

Because of all this, it’s an eperience I wouldn’t change for anything and I strongly recomend to all the studients who want, to take part and to get into synthetic biology. FOr me, make my living from science is a dream and this is a very good bengining to know if you can really live your dream and not daydreaming your life.

Meritxell Notari

 Valencia-iGEM 2008 Team  Member

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