Judging/Judging Criteria

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The following is a list of Awards given by the iGEM Judges and some general information about how Award decisions are made. For examples of award-winning work, see http://igem.org/Results?year=2011


I. iGEM Medals: All teams can earn medals. Teams must nominate themselves using the Judging Form, which will be available later.
The three levels of medals, from lowest to highest are Bronze, Silver, and Gold. Requirements for each medal are:

  1. Team registration
  2. Complete Judging form
  3. Team Wiki
  4. Present a poster and a talk at the iGEM Jamboree
  5. At least one new submitted and highly-documented standard BioBrick Part or Device. A new application of and outstanding documentation (quantitative data showing the Part’s/ Device’s function) of a previously existing BioBrick part in the “Experience” section of that BioBrick’s Registry entry also counts.
Silver: In addition to the Bronze Medal requirements...
  1. Demonstrate that at least one new BioBrick Part or Device of your own design and construction works as expected
  2. Characterize the operation of at least one new BioBrick Part or Device and enter this information in the “Main Page” section of that Part’s/Device’s Registry entry.
Gold: In addition to the Bronze and Silver Medal requirements, any one or more of the following:
  1. Improve the function of an existing BioBrick Part or Device (created by another team or your own institution in a previous year) and enter this information in the Registry (in the “Experience” section of that BioBrick’s Registry entry), and don't forget to create a new registry page for the improved part.
    The growth of the Registry depends on having a broad base of reliable parts. This is why the improvement of an existing part is just as important as the creation and documentation of a new part. An "improvement" is anything that improves the functionality and ease-of-use of a part, so that it is more likely to be used by the community. For instance: strengthening the expression of a part by mutating the DNA sequence; modifying one or a few parts in construct (Device) so that it performs its intended job better; improving a cloning or expression vector that can be easily used by the entire community; and of course, troubleshooting and fixing a part reported to be non-functional. Data from an experimental comparison between the original and improved part/ device is strongly recommended.
  2. Help another iGEM team by, for example, characterizing a part, debugging a construct, or modeling or simulating their system.
  3. Outline and detail a new approach to an issue of Human Practice in synthetic biology as it relates to your project, such as safety, security, ethics, or ownership, sharing, and innovation.
II. Software Track Medals: Special medals are awarded to teams in the Software Tools track. Teams must nominate themselves using the Judging Form.
See the Software page for details on Software Judging.
III. Special Prizes:

Special prizes are awarded to honor specific innovative and unique contributions to iGEM. The iGEM 2012 judging committee hopes to award the following Special prizes, conditional on the accomplishments presented by the teams.

For the following special prizes, teams must nominate themselves using the online Judging Form.

  1. Best Human Practices Advance: Will the world be a safe place if we make biology easy to engineer? How do the lessons of the past inform the discussion going forward? Think beyond just convincing people that “synthetic biology is good.” Find a new way to help human civilization consider, guide, and address the impacts of ongoing advances in biotechnology.
  2. Best BioBrick Measurement Approach: There are a lot of exciting Parts in the Registry, but most of the Parts have never been characterized. Designing great measurement approaches for characterizing new parts or developing and implementing an efficient new method for characterizing thousands of parts are good examples.
  3. Best Model: Mathematical models and computer simulations provide a great way to describe the functioning and operation of BioBrick Parts and Devices.

The following prizes will be awarded at the discretion of the judges:

  1. Best New BioBrick Part, Natural: Most genetically-encoded functions have not yet been converted to BioBrick parts. In fact, most genes in the natural environment have likely not ever been sequenced. Thus, there are *many* opportunities to find new, cool, and important genetically encoded functions, and refine and convert the DNA encoding these functions into BioBrick standard biological parts.
    Your best natural BioBrick Part(s) should be visible on your Wiki’s Data Page (see http://igem.org/Sample_Data_Page).
  2. Best New BioBrick Device, Engineered: New BioBrick Devices can be made by combining existing BioBrick Parts. For example, Inverters, Amplifiers, Smell Generators, Protein Balloon Generators, Senders, Receivers, Actuators, and so on.
    Your best new BioBrick Device(s) should be visible on your Wiki’s Data Page.
  3. Best Software Tool: Computers have been around for a long time. How come we don't have more, great software tools for helping everything engineering synthetic biological systems based on standard biological parts?
    See the Software page for details.
    Your New Software Tool should be clearly presented and easy to find in your Wiki.
  4. Best New Standard: Standards help to make sharing biological parts easier. For example, the BioBrick DNA assembly standard makes it easier to construct parts from pre-existing parts created by the entire BioBrick community. What other sorts of standards can you create? How about a standard system for measuring promoter activity, a standard method for reporting compatible/ incompatible parts, a standard to help describe and control post-translational modifications (such as phosphorylation), or chassis-specific standards (for instance, a system for describing and sharing transgenic yeast)?
    Your New Standard should be clearly presented and easy to find in your Wiki.
  5. Best Wiki: The team Wiki is the “face” of your iGEM project. The team Wikis serve as the main project information resource for future iGEM students and teams, as well as the rest of the world. This award honors the “model” Wiki page, which exemplifies what the following year’s Wikis should strive for.
  6. Best Poster, Regional Level: Posters should be attractive, clear, and concisely present your team's work.
  7. Best Presentation: Presentations should be clear, engaging, and communicate your project to a broad audience.
IV. Advancement to the World Championship: a small number of teams will be selected to advance to the World Championship at MIT.


I. Grand Prizes
A small number of iGEM teams (between 3-10 teams) will be selected by the judges as iGEM Finalists. These teams will be selected based on the overall excellence of their entire project, from choice of project, to new Parts and Devices, to the quality of the Project Description, Poster, and Presentation, to the success and impact of the project, to consideration of issues of Human Practices, and so on.

  1. Grand Prize: also known as the aluminum BioBrick Trophy; best overall undergraduate team project
  2. First Runner-up: the next highest ranking undergraduate team project
  3. Second Runner-up: the next highest ranking undergraduate team project
II. Area/ Track Prizes The iGEM 2012 judging committee hopes to award the following Area prizes, conditional on the accomplishments presented by the teams. Each prize will be awarded at the discretion of the judges. Below are brief descriptions for each Area prize:
  1. Best Food & Energy Project: People need to eat. Planes, trains, and automobiles need to eat too. Can biotechnology be responsibly used to produce food or energy without causing widespread shortages of either, and without harming the environment that future generations will inherit?
  2. Best Environment Project: The quality of the air, water, and land, both on Earth and other heavenly bodies, limits the happiness of humans and other creatures. Can biotechnology be used to help clean the air, provide fresh drinking water, restore or enhance soil quality, terraform a near-Earth asteroid, or protect, preserve, or enhance natural biological diversity?
  3. Best Health & Medicine Project: Many health and medical problems might best be addressed by improved biological technologies. What can synthetic biology do?
  4. Best Manufacturing Project: Have you ever heard of nanotechnology? Well, biology is a nanotechnology that already exists, and that actually works. The ribosome is a programmable nanoassembler embedded within a reproducing machine. Could we responsibly use biology to manufacture useful products, from the nanoscale (atoms) to the decascale (buildings and bridges)? What can biology be programmed to manufacture?
  5. Best New Application Area: We're guessing that you have great ideas that nobody has ever thought about, or if they have they forgot to tell somebody else. Can you imagine an entirely new application area for biological technology?
  6. Best Foundational Advance: Just thirty-five years ago, scientists could not cut and paste pre-existing fragments of genetic material like we can today. The discovery and application of DNA recombination allowed us to assemble new genes. The synthetic biology community needs other enabling technologies that help to make new accomplishments possible. What are other types of basic tricks does nature use? Have you discovered and applied one that could revolutionize synthetic biology?
  7. Best Information Processing Project: The diversity and abundance of biological properties, behaviors, and parts presents a huge information processing challenge. Has your project led to an innovative system that allows us to navigate and use lots of information quickly and effectively?
  8. Best Software Tool: Software is an important, growing and sometimes overlooked research area in Synthetic Biology. Have you written code that can help design new proteins? Can you create better tools to access the registry and compose parts together? What tools can you create to make iGEM and the Registry of Standard Biological Parts better?
III. Special Prizes:
  1. Best Human Practices Advance
  2. Best Model
  3. Best Poster: Posters concisely present your team's work. Keep the Poster Guidelines in mind as you create your team poster.
  4. Best Presentation
  5. Best Wiki
Please send us any comments or suggestions for awards and judging by email to the judging committee at judging AT igem DOT org.