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Advancing undergraduate synthetic biology education: insights from a Canadian iGEM student perspective

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Sajtovich,  Victoria Anastasia
Understanding and Building Metabolism, Department of Biochemistry and Synthetic Metabolism, Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Diep, P., Boucinha, A., Kell, B., Yeung, B.-r.-A., Chen, X., Tsyplenkov, D., et al. (2021). Advancing undergraduate synthetic biology education: insights from a Canadian iGEM student perspective. CANADIAN JOURNAL OF MICROBIOLOGY, 67(10), 749-770. doi:10.1139/cjm-2020-0549.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000A-A4DE-3
Abstract
The last two decades have seen vigorous activity in synthetic biology research and the ever-increasing applications of these technologies. However, pedagogical research pertaining to teaching synthetic biology is scarce, especially when compared to other science and engineering disciplines. Within Canada, there are only three universities that offer synthetic biology programs, two of which are at the undergraduate level. Rather than taking place in formal academic settings, many Canadian undergraduate students are introduced to synthetic biology through participation in the annual International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition. Although the iGEM competition has had a transformative impact on synthetic biology training in other nations, its impact in Canada has been relatively modest. Consequently, the iGEM competition remains a major setting for synthetic biology education in Canada. To promote further development of synthetic biology education, we surveyed undergraduate students from the Canadian iGEM design teams of 2019. We extracted insights from these data using qualitative analysis to provide recommendations for best teaching practices in synthetic biology undergraduate education, which we describe through our proposed Framework for Transdisciplinary Synthetic Biology Education (FTSBE).