Following the each BioTreks conference, judges award badges to manuscripts that demonstrated exceptional qualities in areas that are important for scientific writing and design. Since badges are granted based solely on the achievements of individual projects, it’s possible for more than one submission to receive the same medal.

Biosafety and Ethics. Safety and ethics should be the team’s number one priority when conceiving and designing synthetic biology experiments.  Students are encouraged to consider both the risks of performing the experiments in the laboratory and the potential impact any engineered organisms might have on the environment and society. This medal recognizes teams for carefully considering each of these issues and documenting their decisions in their paper.

Problem Solving. Experiments often don’t work correctly the first or second time through. This medal is given to teams that show a high degree of perseverance and ingenuity in identifying, diagnosing, and addressing problems that they encounter in their research.

Scientific Rigor. In science it’s important to correctly interpret your results without reading too much into them or forcing them to fit your original hypothesis. This badge recognizes teams for providing concise and well reasoned interpretations of their experimental outcomes, regardless of whether the experiments produced the expected results.

Innovation. This badge is given to teams that envision new and creative applications of synthetic biology or experimental methods to solve an important scientific, environmental, or social issue.

Education. A major objective for the BioTreks conference and journal is to help others understand and apply synthetic biology research in their own schools. This badge acknowledges the teams that do an outstanding job in communicating their knowledge and techniques to their peers.

Collaboration. Researchers succeed when they work together to articulate and achieve community goals. This badge is given to teams that collaborate with other groups by (1) citing earlier BioTreks papers and building on the work proposed in these papers and (2) carefully describing achievable Next Steps in their own BioTreks manuscript. This award also applies to teams that address the community objectives described in their own, previously published, BioTreks papers.

Visual Communications. Tables, graphs, and diagrams are often the most effective vehicle for communicating scientific data and concepts. This badge will be given to teams that excels at using tables and figures to augment its presentation.