The HKUST “Fisherly” team, including Year 3 students Leon CHENG and Minjin GU studying Dual Degree Program in Technology & Management (T&M-DDP), won the second runner-up in the Undergraduate section and Best Safety and Security Award of the 2022 International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Competition, an annual event in the Synthetic Biology community drawing extensive attention from universities around the world. It is the first time that a Hong Kong team has been listed on the final list since the competition was established in 2004.
“Fisherly” team came up with a rapid test kit for testing the freshness and quality of fish. By utilizing synthetic biology technologies, the test kit could indicate if a fish is edible within 20 minutes. The test kit serves as a convenient and affordable measure for restaurants, fish retailers and consumers to detect fish spoilage levels and avoid food poisoning.
The team consists of 20 undergraduates from different disciplines and eight places and countries, including Hong Kong, South Korea, Indonesia and India. Leon is the Integrated Human Practices Module Leader, who is responsible for connecting laboratory progress to real-world implementation. By communicating with consumers, local fish businesses and regulatory bodies, useful feedback were collected to further develop the product. He believed the mindset acquired from T&M-DDP is particularly applicable when combining engineering and business principles in developing an effective and user-friendly product.