Highlights from Explorathon 2023!


On September 16th and 17th, the ARC hosted the Doors Open Day Weekend within the Explorathon series of events across Scotland. It was a very interesting weekend with research groups from across different Scottish universities showcasing their most eye-catching research to the general public. Here at the CeMi, we presented the What is synthetic biology? Design your own DNA activity, where we spent a day explaning the fascinating world of synthetic biology to anyone interested.

Rui, Laura and Graham at work 🙂

The activity was focused on synthetic biology, a new scientific discipline that uses DNA manipulation techniques to make tailored DNA to the researcher’s vision, with a myriad of applications: agriculture, healthcare, food or engineering. The coolest thing about synthetic engineering is that you can copy and paste DNA pieces like you would do with text, adding and removing letters and then a company will make this DNA for you for cheap.

We do genetic engineering on a daily basis, so our researchers were more than happy to explain the inner workings of the topic to the people interested, who to our surprise were many. The activity consisted on a series of interactive panels where people was trying to design microbes with predefined functions, programming them in the same way that you program a computer to do what you want. Our guests made microbes that can produce insulin, a very important pharmaceutical drug to treat diabetes, a microbe that can eat and degrade the plastic (PET) that most bottles are made of and are sadly polluting our oceans, and some fun bright green bacteria.

Two happy researchers doing public engagement, even on a Saturday

During the three hours of the activity, people did not hesitate to come and ask about the intricate details of the technique. They were very interested and intuitively managed to complete the challenging puzzles we prepared for them; at the end, even as a citizen you can do science and contribute.

We think that it was a fun Saturday morning, with lots of engaging activites across the whole Hackaton day and many nice and kind people from the general public engaging with us and showing genuine interest in the science that we humbly develop at the CeMi. We hope to see you soon in the next exhibits and events that happen often in the University of Glasgow!

thank you!