Modular projects and ‘mean questions’: best practices for advising an International Genetically Engineered Machines team

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In the yearly Internationally Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) competition, teams of Bachelor's and Master's students design and build an engineered biological system using DNA technologies. Advising an iGEM team poses unique challenges due to the inherent difficulties of mounting and completing a new biological project from scratch over the course of a single academic year; the challenges in obtaining financial and structural resources for a project that will likely not be fully realized; and conflicts between educational and competition-based goals. This article shares tips and best practices for iGEM team advisors, from two team advisors with very different experiences with the iGEM competition.

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