How can designers aid the process and explanation 
of scientific research?

What is iGEM ?

University of Washington iGEM Team 2019 - Photo by Elyssa Yim

An undergraduate synthetic biology team with hopes of winning an annual international competition by doing globally impactful and ethical scientific research. 
"A club that functions like a start-up" - Yoshi Goto, advisor

As the design lead, I was in charge of managing the design team, which created visual materials to educate others about our team and synthetic biology in general.
Team Structure Concept Map

PROBLEM: iGEM members don't have a full understanding of how the team works.
As I began to dive into designing for this team, I realized that a fundamental issue was confusion about what the design team was doing in relation to all the other teams. 

RESPONSE: We put together a concept map to explain the team structure.
We set out to talk to other team members to figure out what each team was in charge of doing. I assigned each design team member to a different branch of the team, and together we brainstormed a visual layout for the project.

The design team created this concept map to help new members comprehend how our team functions as a whole.​​​​​​​

INSIGHT: We learned from this experience that the primary role of the Design team is to visually explain the iGEM project, supporting both Human Practices (which helps to make sure that the project is ethical and appealing to the public) and Web Development (which is in charge of creating the website).
Fundraising Video

PROBLEM: We need to explain our project in order to gain support and funding from people who may not understand specific scientific terminology.

RESPONSE: I took charge of creating a fundraising video which would explain both the purpose and significance of the team and our project for 2019. Being newer to the team, it was difficult to assess what would be most important to include, so I spoke to many other members of the team to put together a coherent story that would persuade others to want to donate to our cause.

Our Team's Project: Creating a Biosensor to Detect Small Molecules
Through chemically-induced dimerization (CID), the UW iGEM team hoped to develop a biosensor for detecting small molecules which would allow people to detect substances and could potentially help to fight infectious diseases like malaria.
I created this video with the help of Chi Truong, in order to explain our project to the public. CID animation by Timothy Chong.

Project Poster
Presented at the 2019 Boston Jamboree
I was also in charge of putting together the project poster to explain our project at the international competition. The design team and I worked on making the smaller visual explainers throughout the page, as well as creating the overall layout which is based on the small-molecule detection process that our project was focused on.

Poster layout by Angie Dang. Final poster by Clara Too.

Further information about our project can be found on our wiki -

Outreach Materials
Our outreach team won Best Outreach at the international Jamboree in 2019. The design team helped with making graphics for flyers, posters, and putting together the outreach activity booklet.

Event flyer -  Delaney Wilde and Clara Too

Synthetic Biology Activity Booklet - made for kids, accessible to all. Made with low-income students in mind, with inexpensive materials allowing kids to experience biology in a hands-on manner. I designed the cover to look both polished and playful.

Activity Booklet Content by Outreach Team and Angie Dang. Cover by Clara Too and Angie Dang.

J A M B O R E E   2 0 1 9

Our team at in Boston at the Jamboree, displaying our awards! We won Silver, as usual. Glow-in-the-dark shirts by Clara Too.

Overall, this was a very unique design experience that taught me how to work with people in a completely different field, and how to manage a design team in a context with real-life needs and constraints.


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