University of Sheffield students’ best performance yet at iGEM as they win best project in their track at the international synthetic biology competition.

Students from the University of Sheffield have won the ‘Best Open Project’ award at the International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition in Boston, USA with their hardware project OPENLUX, a low-cost microplate reader.

iGem Award

The iGEM Competition is an international challenge for students interested in synthetic biology. The competition combines knowledge in biology and engineering with entrepreneurship with the aim of contributing to the field of synthetic biology in areas such as diagnostics, environment and manufacturing. Over 6000 participants from universities around the world competed this year.

The team from Sheffield iGEM is truly interdisciplinary, with students from the Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering, the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, the Department of Computer Science, the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, and Interdisciplinary Engineering (Bioengineering). Work on their project lasted for six months, and aimed to create an affordable, DIY, open-source microplate reader.

Their initial research indicated that their work could make microplate readers accessible to schools, which would allow students to get valuable experimental experience before studying at University. The team’s reader is designed to be low-cost at around £200, with fabrication instructions at Thingiverse and software on GitHub.

iGem team

Third year Mechatronics and Robotics student, Samuel Gibbs, says: “iGEM gave me the chance to apply my engineering knowledge in an area of science I had never experienced before. I got to see the full project from its concept to its design and then prototype stages. I also got experience with marketing and selling the device through our branding, Wiki (project website) and presentations. Having to work closely with the team, helped me develop my group and management skills as I was involved in planning the work that needed to be done and delegating tasks to the other Engineers”.

For more information visit the Sheffield iGEM website.