On 12th of July, I landed at Bacha Khan Airport, Peshawar. It was a pleasant evening and I was welcomed by the smiles of people all my way through. I arrived at the CECOS University hostel in the late evening and it marked the beginning of the most important endeavor of my academic career so far.
I had traveled to Peshawar to be a part of Pakistan’s first iGEM team. We were going to take up the most exciting challenge, hacking into bacterial system, carefully studying it, understanding its subtleties and making it do useful things for us. The potential was immense. Perhaps, we were considering ourselves contributors to a giant revolution.
We spent most of our first week breaking the ice. We had an amazingly diverse team. The thoughtfulness and hard work of our mentors were clearly evident. That was the time when we realized the gaps in our knowledge and came to know about the tools we would need. We committed ourselves to do whatever it takes to shine Pakistan’s first appearance on any international synthetic biology competition.
I look forward to the coming days as I am enthusiastically preparing myself for the challenges iGEM presents, and for the learning, innovation, and collaboration to make the most of the iGEM. I hope to take the gems I gather in two months here back to my own institute and catalyze the curricular reform so desperately needed in our Hi-Ed sector.
Muhammad Ali, 22, Karachi