This year NDC is working to engineer a bacteria that can detect levels of oxybenzone in sunscreen and/or water sources. Oxybenzone is a chemical that is associated with an increase of the bleaching of the coral reefs and could be harmful to children and pregnant women.
We are creating a system which uses a receptor that, when bound with oxybenzone, will fluoresce and/or emit an electrical signal that we can measure to see how much oxybenzone is present. Consumers/companies could use this to detect safe levels and in the future it could be used to guide remediation attempts.
March 2020 Update
We are done designing all of our DNA constructs (7 planned out so far!) and sending them to be printed in the next week so that we can get to the lab and test them all out. To prepare for this, we spent two evenings at FREDsense labs brushing up on our basic lab skills and planning our goal to go for gold at iGEM.
We have also touched base with Amino Labs and are continuing to create our fatberg kit with them, based on our previous iGEM project; next step is R&D where we are testing out a different substrate that will hopefully be easier to incorporate into the kit and send in the mail (ordering the substrate this week!).
Our last new development is our annual Pi Day event at the school happening very soon – a nerd fundraiser for synthetic biology but it is mainly a fun time where students can “pie” their teachers at lunch.