Waterloo student design team wins silver at 2018 International Genetically Engineered Machine competition

Friday, December 7, 2018

A team of University of Waterloo undergraduate students, including 6 from the Faculty of Mathematics, returned with a silver medal from the 2018 International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition in Boston.

The Waterloo iGEM 2018 project E. co-light : Dynamic Optogenetic Control of Co-cultures sought to dynamically control the growth of bacterial populations in co-cultures by using optogenetics (light-induced gene expression). The team included students from the Faculties of Mathematics, Science and Engineering, and the students directed the project themselves, carrying out the experiments, and developing the necessary mathematical modelling.Lights used by iGEM as part of their experiment

iGEM teams get to select a project or problem, and design and carry out student-led experiments over the course of a year. Students are also required to evaluate the societal impacts of the project, and participate in several outreach initiatives. In competition, each team gets to present their project in a 20min presentation, and poster session, and are evaluated on their presentation, poster and online wiki.

This is the 13th year that University of Waterloo students have participated in iGEM, the world’s largest synthetic biology competition. iGEM offers competitions for high school, undergraduate and graduate teams, with the goals of fostering innovation, collaboration and ethical reflection, applying engineering design principles to biology, and interdisciplinary research.

Among the student participants are 6 undergraduates with ties to the Faculty of Mathematics:

  • John Dewhurst (4B, Applied Mathematics)
  • Cody Receno (4A, Computer Science)
  • Atmn Patel (2A, Computer Science)
  • Shreya Prasad (2B, Computational Mathematics/Statistics)
  • Issac Ellmen (4A, Combinatorics and Optimization)
  • Michael Astwood (2B, Mathematical Physics, Pure Math minor)

The team’s presentation and results are available in full detail on the Waterloo 2018 iGEM website.

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