How to Join

BIOMOD registration for 2017 is here and is open until April 30th, or until we run out of team slots.

Organize your team

Team Registration is USD $255 (nonrefundable). Note that there will be a SEPARATE individual registration fee charged to each person to attend the Jamboree. Individual registration is USD $185 per person (nonrefundable), plus lodging costs.

Before you register, please read the criteria listed on the Requirements page. All teams are responsible for their own fund raising and travel expenses, so start early.

Submit your registration information

Fill out the online registration form.

Once your registration is approved, you will receive a confirmation email and further instructions. Please contact us with any questions.

Note important future dates

  • April 30: Registration closes.
  • May 1: Project judging criteria posted.
  • July 1: Visa invitation letter requests due for international teams.
  • September 25: Jamboree registration - deadline. Project title and abstract due.
  • October 27: Team website freeze and video upload deadline. 11:59PM GMT-7 (Pacific time)
  • November 4 - November 5: Jamboree (everyone meets in person to present).

Advice From A Past Participant

Are you interested in organizing a BIOMOD team, but unsure how to get started? The following advice is provided by Robbie Oppenheimer, a member of 2014 Grand-Prize winning Team echiDNA.

Finding a supervisor and labspace

It is important to have the right kind of supervisor - someone who earnestly cares about the educational experience this opportunity will provide, someone who believes that given time and resources undergraduate students can actually do good research. For instance, my supervisors for iGEM 2013 and BIOMOD 2014 were both very patient and also very trusting - they gave us a lot of freedom to explore a topic and even to make mistakes. This is really important for developing the kind of self-driven philosophy that makes a good scientist, and a good BIOMOD team.

The team will not need a great deal of labspace, but access to some specialized, difficult-to-access equipment is important in the BIOMOD competition. Most teams conduct some sort of structural characterization on their nanostructures (Atomic Force Microscopy, Electron Microscopy, Small-Angle X-ray Scattering, etc.). Sometimes these are difficult to access even for researchers, so it is important that the BIOMOD team makes some connections early on with the institutions that host these equipment. Perhaps you might even get the owners of the equipment interested in the competition and they might sponsor your team. </i>

Finding funding

On top of the registration costs and the cost of flights to participate at the BIOMOD jamboree, lab consumables probably cost our team between $AUD5,000-$10,000 (USD$3,500–7,000). There are also costs like team shirts, and perhaps anything used to create the YouTube video explaining your work.

In general, I have found it is best to approach a large number of potentially interested people, trying to be polite and persistent, and to be OK with receiving a lot of ‘no, we’re not interested’. For instance, when starting an iGEM team at Sydney University I approached different staff members and received a lot of ‘no’. After receiving one ‘yes’ from the Dean of Science, suddenly a lot of the people I’d already approach became more supportive. I approached them again and received small but useful sums of money (around $2000) from the Heads of the School of Biology, the School of Molecular Biosciences, the School of Medical Sciences, etc. We have also approached government bodies and biotech companies. My message is that as soon as your team has SOME financial support, it will become easier to leverage funding from other potential sponsors. </i>

(Teams at large schools like OhioMOD have had fund-raising success soliciting small cash donations at sporting events. –Ed.)

Picking the team

This is probably the most important work you do in the entire project. The team should include people with a diverse range of skills and experiences (for instance, one member of our BIOMOD team had previously worked as an Industrial Designer, who had quit his job and gone back to university to study biochemistry. His maturity and skill-set were invaluable). Ideally there should be a set of people with complementary interests and abilities, rather than a group of hotshots who won’t be able to work together. Furthermore, in my experience academic record is a poor indicator of whether a person will be good on a team. What seems to be more important is a real passion to learn, a deep interest in biology and science in general, and a sense of honesty and fairness.

When looking for team-mates, I try to ask whether they have experience:

  • working in a molecular biology lab
  • writing engaging scientific text
  • developing websites
  • creating mathematical models
  • building physical prototypes or tools
  • working in teams in a stressful context
  • and MORE. </i>

Choosing a project

This is difficult, especially as a new team. There are a few tensions -

Firstly, you want to pick something ambitious, but also something which is possible to complete in a short time frame.

Secondly, you want to pick something that aligns with your supervisor’s research interests (this may enable them to help fund the project, to provide good advice and supervision, and it will make them in general more interested in the project), but you also want something which is new to the BIOMOD competition and perhaps also new to your lab (you don’t want to just be copying other people’s work or have someone always looking over your shoulder).

I don’t have any other advice except to discuss often and honestly with your supervisor to find the right kind of project. I would allow around a month or two just to choose a project, to do your background research and to form a clear vision of the goals you hope to achieve in the BIOMOD year. It seemed to me the projects that the students and judges most enjoyed at BIOMOD were those that were motivated by both scientific discovery and technological innovation. </i>

Working with each other

It is important to have regular team meetings, perhaps weekly or fortnightly, depending on the time of year and the amount of BIOMOD work that is being done. This is useful keep everyone informed about the different sides of the project, so that everyone can show off the small progress they’ve made in their different tasks or sub-projects. It is also important to have a clear method of sharing files and information (e.g., Google docs, Dropbox, Evernote), and stick to it over the year. Managing a team it is important to provide constant encouragement and patience, even in the face of frustrating results or behavior. Actually DOING SCIENCE is often out of the comfort zone for science students, and you must be supportive (even to yourself!).

Building the Project Website

Start early. Start to familiarize yourself with coding in this format. Start to design a team aesthetic so that every thing you do follows the same ‘brand’ of your team. The website is the main way for you to communicate the work you’ve done with the BIOMOD teams and judges, and also the broader community. I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how much great work you’ve done if you fail to communicate it to others.

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