Team:Hong Kong HKUST/human practice/start-up kit/interview



Dr. Samuel Yu is currently the Associate Director in the Health, Safety and Environment Office of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). Prof. Yu is also an Adjunct Associate Professor of School of Public Health and Primary Care, Faculty of Medicine, Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Ms. Christine Chiu is currently the Senior Specialist in the Health, Safety and Environment Office of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST).

Prof. Tom Richard is a faculty of Agricultural and Biological Engineering in Penn State University. He is also a director of Penn State Institutes for Energy and Environment.

Dr. Samuel Yu, Ms. Christine Chiu and Prof. Tom Richard have all worked as judges for human practice in previous years. Interviewing them helped us broaden our perspective of human practice and also our understanding of the purpose and impact of human practice in iGEM. We hope that by incorporating the content of the interview in our Human Practice Handbook future iGEM teams can have deeper understanding of objectives of Human Practice and develop better projects.

Interview with Human Practice Judges from Within Our Institution

To find out more about Human Practice from the judges’ point of view, we contacted the past human practice judges in our institution and scheduled an interview with them. We started the interview off by asking how they would define human practice. Dr. Samuel Yu and Ms. Christine Chiu defined human practice as everything beyond the technical aspects and also as a “promotion of iGEM and synthetic biology using different tools”.

During the interview Dr. Samuel Yu and Ms. Christine Chiu mentioned several times that they are looking for a novel and creative project. They also emphasized that the process of how you get to the product of human practice project is important. Also, they chose governors and young students as the most important target audience. Moreover, we discussed about some worthwhile areas to be explored in human practice and the prospect of human practice in iGEM.

Fig 1. Interview with Dr.Samuel Yu and Ms.Christine Chiu from HKUST

Interview with Human Practice Judge from Outside Our Institution

Fig 2. Skype interview with Prof.Tom Richard from Pennsylvania State University

To further broaden our perspective of human practice and our understanding of the purpose and impact of human practice in iGEM we also contacted a past human practice judge from outside our institution. Prof. Tom Richard has kindly agreed to have an online interview with us using Skype.

He defined human practice as understanding of non-technical parts of synthetic biology, which clearly has issues and concerns regarding the general public and involve ethical, legal and security concerns. Prof. Tom Richard emphasized that they are looking for projects that are more novel and insightful that might generate new ideas and opportunities. We asked if he thinks any specific target group may have more impact than the other groups. He said there are two kinds of target group he sees as important: people that will actually have broad impact through their position (policy makers) and individuals that will have life long impact (young generation).

During the interview he also pointed out that art and culture has very important relationship with science and technology and should be explored more. He explained that they provide different window on science and technology for both general public, who often do not understand technical definitions and also for scientists and professionals in the field, because it helps them think in different ways. We also discussed about the prospective of new track in iGEM called “Policy and Practice” and effectiveness of surveys and talks, which are the most common projects in iGEM human practice.

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Human Practice