The Queen's Genetically Engineered Machine Team (QGEM) is an undergraduate research and design team that uses innovations in the fast-evolving field of synthetic biology to tackle current real-world problems related to medicine, industry, the environment, sustainability, and more. We are one of six teams that make up the collective Ontario Genetic Engineered Machine (oGEM) collective, with whom we present and share our project ideas, lab protocols, and funding plans. Each year, we are proud to represent Canada and Queen's University at the International Genetic Engineered Machine (iGEM) Competition hosted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). QGEM is composed of three main sub-teams: Wet Lab, Dry Lab, and Outreach.
The Wet Lab Team formulates the theoretical and practical basis of the project, and carries out the lab protocols devised for its step-by-step execution. Critical thinking, scientific research methods, and execution of lab techniques (as well as luck) are the keys to success for our Wet Lab Team. Organization is also important as our protocols, inventory, and lab notebook are all recorded on Benchling, an online scientific data management and collaboration platform. If you enjoy the thrill that comes with PCR, agar plating, gel electrophoresis, and much more, come join our Wet Lab Team!
Mathematical modelling, optimizing engineered components, and in silico simulations are all part of our Dry Lab Team. As a key component to the overall success of the project, Dry Lab uses a variety of in silico modelling softwares for many different purposes, whether it be optimizing the substrate binding affinity of an enzyme or predicting the structural folding outcome of an engineered protein. In past projects, softwares that have been commonly used by the Dry Lab Team include PyMol, CRAUT, GROMACS, and PyRosetta. For those who prefer the study of biological systems behind a computer monitor rather than a lab bench, Dry Lab is for you!
The Outreach Team focuses on the community, ethics, commercialization, and application aspects of the project. In the past, we have hosted public seminars about synthetic biology and our project, developed undergraduate course materials for an engineering design course and biochemistry course, as well as promote synthetic biology through interactive activities with elementary school students through the Queen's Enrichment Studies Unit and high school students through the SHAD program. Other aspects of the Outreach program include exploring intellectual property for synthetic biology and interviewing synbio startups and professionals in the field of synbio. Joining the Outreach Team is an amazing opportunity to learn about the growing field of synthetic biology and its future prospect in research, commercialization, and society.