University of Alberta - BioBytes

Project BioBytes

Kalon Armstrong
Molecular Genetics
I've recently completed my BSc in Molecular Genetics and will be entering the Engineering program in the fall of 2009. Most of my growing-up took place in the small town of Cochrane, Alberta. My ultimate goals consist of working in the Biotechnology or health care industry. While my interest in music, movies, snowboarding, and hanging out with friends may seem stereotypical on the surface, they feel unique in their own right and keep me busy most of the time. This will be my first year on the U of A iGEM team and I am excited to help take the competition to a new level. I think that iGEM will be a great experience because it demands innovation and collaboration on levels rarely seen in undergraduate programs.

Eric Bennett
Electrical Biomedical Engineering
I am entering my final year of engineering at the U of A. After graduation, I hope to do research either with a biotechnology company or in grad school. I think that iGEM is a great way to gain valuable experience and is an effective way of accelerating the field of synthetic biology. My interests include brain-machine interfacing, genetic engineering, and robotic control systems. My hobbies include playing guitar, video games, the occasional sport, reading, and fixing my car.

Max Buchko
Honors Biochemistry
I am in my third year of Honors Biochemistry and wish to pursue a career in medicine. In my time away from the lab I enjoy a wide variety of sports including soccer, boxing, and rifle silhouette shooting. I have also been known to strum a chord or two at an intolerable volume to the annoyance of the people living upstairs. I hope for the best with iGEM at MIT in 2009. This competition is a means of proving yourself at an exemplary level amongst many of the top international minds, and it is this challenge that I look forward to the most.

Oscar Cort├ęs
Bsc. Specialization molecular genetics
My future plans include entering into a Masters program in Medical Genetics or Human Genetics, and pursuing this discipline towards a PhD. I enjoy reading books about the human genome and advancements in stem cell research. In my spare time I like to play a variety of sports that I am not necessarily good at: soccer, softball, and dodge ball. I see iGEM as an extraordinary opportunity for me to be exposed to real life research, in which my knowledge of molecular genetics will be challenged, and will help me further my understanding of Synthetic Biology. "Man with all his noble qualities still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin"- Charles Darwin

Anh Dao
Biological Sciences and Chemistry
I am interested in a research career after I finish my degree. I am leaning towards the field of Microbiology to study the many micro-organisms that have not yet been discovered. However, I may enroll in graduate studies after my undergraduate degree to expand my knowledge and gain more experience in the laboratory. Being in a competitive team and atmosphere is a motivating and exciting opportunity that I do not want to miss out on. By creating the smallest artificial E. coli genome we can extend future research. We are attempting to understand and standardize the E. coli genome so that this methodology can be applied to more complex model organisms.

Uchechukwu Davidson
Honors biochemistry
I am in my final year of Biochemistry at the University of Alberta. I wish to pursue a career in medicine after my degree. I enjoy sports, movies, and music at my time away from studies. The iGEM provides an opportunity to experience creativity, innovation, and ingenuity which are sometimes absent at the undergraduate level of science.

Youness Elkhalidy
Honors immunology and infection
I am a first year student at the University of Alberta. I hope to enter medical school in the near future. I am currently taking part in mitotic-spindle regulation research from a genetics perspective. I have a passion for science and enjoy sports such as basketball and soccer. iGEM is an great learning experience not only in the cutting-edge field of Synthetic Biology but also in leadership and business management. I will enjoy taking part in research that combines many fields of science as well as socialize with many of my team members who share common interests.

Justin Fedor
BSc. Honours Biochemistry
I have completed my undergraduate degree in Biochemistry this year and have began my PhD studies this September. I play piano and am attempting to learn the cello. My nerdy tendencies are obvious when I say that I like Star Trek TNG but not DS9. Last summer I worked in the biomedical research lab of Dr. Larry Unsworth of the National Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT), which has further piqued my interest in the field of nanotechnology. In the hopefully not too distant future I plan on becoming a researcher studying the mechanisms of membrane bound enzymes, particularly oxidoreductases. iGEM has proved a fantastic experience, it has served to mature me further as a scientist.

Jason Gardiner
BSc. Specialization in Botany
Jason is a veteran of iGEM 2007, where his team "The Butanerds" won first place in the Energy track. His hobbies include Softball, Beach volleyball, soccer, as well as playing the guitar and fiddling with the iGEM 2009 Wiki. Jason has applied to continue his education in graduate studies at the University of Alberta in 2010. His degree in Botany focuses mostly on the molecular side of plants and he hopes to use this knowledge applying Synthetic Biology to plants. One day he hopes to solve all of the world's problems using plants and Synthetic Biology.

Erin Garside
Biological Sciences
I completed my BSc. degree this year and plan to do graduate work in biochemistry. After that - who knows? I think iGEM will be a great experience, and that it's about time Synthetic Biology really took off. In my spare time I like to read, play computer games (especially the Sims) and raise cats.

Boris Henriquez
Biological Sciences
I have just completed the third year of my BSc. degree. My favorite classes so far have been in the fields of Biochemistry and Genetics. I am most interested in human development and embryogenesis and hope to learn more about these topics in my fourth year. My ultimate goal is to have a career in the medical industry as both a physician and as a researcher. When I'm not busy with school or work my usual activities are pretty standard. I like to hang out with friends and family and I crave the outdoors. This is my first year with iGEM and I'm really excited to learn more about Synthetic Biology.

Stephen Jahns
Molecular Genetics
I am in my second year at the University of Alberta. After taking a year of engineering, I decided to transfer to molecular genetics in order to fulfill my childhood desire of creating an army of giant bat-rabbits. I plan on going on through to graduate school to earn a PhD in order to reach my goals. In my spare time I like to run around, ride my bike, play music, cook delicious food, and pretty much all the other fun things kids are doing these days. In my first year I helped to build a car with the U of A's Formula SAE fabrication team. I had a good time building stuff out of metal, and this year I know that I'm going to have a blast building (or at least attempting to build) a novel organism out of DNA parts.

Eric Leung
Honors Pharmacology
I am currently in my final year of an Honors Pharmacology degree. What I do after this degree is up in the air but it is definitely something in the health sciences. In my spare time, I like to play basketball, badminton, run, and catch up on TV shows. Soon I hope I can become a professional baker in my free time. Traveling to Europe, Mexico, and Japan is also in the books somewhere along the way.

David Lloyd
I am a fourth year student, studying at the University of Alberta. While Biochemistry is my major, I have many interests including Genetics, Immunology, Cell Biology, Bioinformatics, and Microbiology. In my spare time I can be found playing sports like soccer, volleyball, or squash, as well as playing piano, listening to music, and playing video games. In the future, I hope to continue into a graduate program in Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Synthetic Biology, or in another field. iGEM is of great interest to myself because of its application to the future of Synthetic Biology. It is an awesome challenge which will hopefully help me to cultivate myself.

Enoch Ng
Biological Sciences/Business
I am entering my fourth year of studies at the University of Alberta, and am looking forward to the challenge that iGEM provides. In the future I hope to travel across the world and meet people ranging from Meshaal to Obama and remain a glorified generalist.

Emera Nguyen
BSc. Biological Sciences/Economics
I am a BSc student entering my fourth year in a Biological Sciences major and Economics minor. This year will be my second year on an iGEM team, and my first year representing the U of A team. In my downtime, things I enjoy include spending quality time with friends and family and traveling to lesser-known parts of the world. One year's experience later, the iGEM competition still impresses me with the unique opportunities it provides for student growth. This research competition is one of the highlights of my undergraduate experience.

Mitch Paquette
BSc. Honors Molecular Genetics
I have transfered into the honors program in Molecular Genetics from a BSc General program in Physical Sciences. After my degree is completed I plan to apply to graduate studies in Molecular Biology, after which I hope to work in research or academia. What excites me most about iGEM is the opportunity to gain research experience in such a new field.

Amber Paul
BSc. Specialization Immunology and Infection
I plan to find the cure for cancer. Seriously. Will be attending graduate school to earn a PhD following my undergraduate degree. I would like to live somewhere warm that allows me to do research, preferably Maui. iGEM is a developmental forefront to Synthetic Biology, something that I love to be part of. Its challenging and fun. To be able to determine the minimal genes for a simple prokaryote, we provide a scaffold to future research on larger, more complex cells such as cancerous tissues, simple eukaryotes, etc.

Julia Pon
Honors Molecular Genetics
My future plans include pursuing PhD in Medical Genetics. I've worked in biological research labs for the past two summers, with last summer spent at the German Cancer Research Institute in Heidelberg, Germany. I'll be working in both the iGEM lab and a Medical Genetics research lab during summer 2009. My heritage is a mixture of English, Chinese, and Danish. iGEM helps move biology to a streamlined, standardized, abstracted process that opens the door to interdisciplinary collaborations and new applications. I'm excited about the many applications of Synthetic Biology and am enjoying the student-directed and team-oriented nature of iGEM.

Alina Ponomarev
Biological Sciences
I am currently a second year student in Biological Sciences and I am considering transferring into the Immunology and Infection program for my third year. I joined iGEM at the end of my first year and can honestly say that it has been an unbeatable learning experience. It is very exciting to think that the progress we have made can positively impact synthetic biology and society in general. In the future, my career goal is to become a Pediatrician. However, after doing labwork at the iGEM lab this summer, I have begun to consider a career in medical research.

Kelly Robinson
Hon. Biochemistry
I completed my BSc. in Biochemistry this year and have enrolled in the University of Alberta's Chemical Engineering program in hopes of fusing the fundamental science of biological machines with the entrepreneurial world of engineering. I got involved in iGEM a couple of years ago when I went to a presentation put on by one of the past teams. I ended up applying in the middle of the night on the last day of registration. That said, it has been a great experience ever since. I'm glad that this year I get the opportunity to do some full time work and really get into the project. Overall, iGEM has a lot to offer anyone who gets involved (including incorrigible advisors: you know who you are!).

James Rodway
Electrical Engineering
I am currently finishing up a co-op Electrical Engineering degree, and am aiming to do some graduate work in more of the computer area, specifically modeling. At the University, I've been involved with the ARVP and iGEM. I haven't really had much time for hobbies in a while, but when I did I played more video games, the guitar, and I actually read books for entertainment value. During my time on last year's iGEM team I found that it was a pretty cool multidisciplinary project, which drew in a few different disciplines that I have never really interacted with previously. It was very impressive to see what we, and all the iGEM teams, had accomplished by the end of last year's competition.

Andy Spencer
Honours Biochemistry
In 5 years I see myself on one of two different paths, medicine or oncology research. I grew up in the Okanagan, British Columbia, and love spending my summers at the beach . In my spare time I enjoy playing squash and bouldering. iGEM to me represents a fundamental value of science as a discipline; that people can from diverse backgrounds with a common interest and curiosity can work as a cohesive team to overcome barriers and problems.

Jonathan Tam
Honors Cell Biotechnology
I have completed my Bachelor's degree in Honors Cell Biotechnology and intend to pursue a degree related to medicine in Germany in the near future. I am very interested in the fields of Molecular Biology and Immunology. For the last two years, I have been keeping myself busy studying the development of macrophages in the lab of Dr. Daniel Barreda. Outside of the lab, I am an avid photographer and downhill mountain biker. The iGEM competition accelerates the development of Synthetic Biology as a field. To be a part of our University of Alberta team is an excellent opportunity for collaboration and advancement.

Jennifer Yau
Honors Biochemistry
I am currently in the second year of my undergraduate program with the ultimate goal of attending graduate school to pursue a research career in Geriatric Medicine. Additional science related activities of mine include my interest in astronomy and promoting science to elementary students through volunteer work. Otherwise, I dedicate the majority of my free time to the arts of chainmaille, knitting, and jazz/classical piano. This is my first year on iGEM and I am ecstatic to be partaking in a project that requires such diverse disciplinary backgrounds. Not only will this be a great learning experience in so many perspectives, but also an opportunity to contribute significant ideas to the ongoing research in Synthetic Biology

Zach Wiltshire
BSc. Specialization in Cell Biology
I am entering into my fourth year in the Cell Biology program at the U of A and have already experienced iGEM once before as a member of the 2008 National Institute for Nanotechnology team. Through my degree I have found myself to have interests ranging from immunology to both eukaryotic & prokaryotic cellular anatomy & physiology. I also happen to be very fond of molecules that fluoresce. My experience with iGEM last year opened my eyes to the possibilities which engineering biological systems can offer. Over the course of the 2009 competition I hope to have just as many opportunities to learn as I did last year.

The Supervisors

Mike Ellison

Doug Ridgway

James Maclagan

Faculty Consultants

Chris Backhouse
Department of Electrical Engineering
Nanobiotechnologies give us the ability to manipulate and sense at the level of individual molecules, with a tremendous potential impact on both human health and the economy. To a large extent, this potential is likely to be realised through the development of Lab on Chip (LOC) technologies. Although the LOC technologies are powerful, the complexity of the infrastructure required to support LOC operation has hindered the widespread adoption of LOC methods in life science applications. A central theme in the work of the Backhouse lab (the Applied Miniaturisation Lab, AML) is the development of extremely inexpensive (e.g. $1000) systems for implementing nanobiotechnologies/molecular biology, especially for medical diagnostic applications.

Robert Campbell
Department of Chemistry
Robert E. Campbell is an associate professor and Canada Research Chair in Bioanalytical Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry of the University of Alberta. Research in his laboratory, (the Campbell Research Group), is focused on protein engineering and the development of new fluorescent protein variants for construction of FRET-based biosensors.

Linda Reha-Krantz
Department of Biological Sciences

Tracy Raivio
Department of Biological Sciences

Jon Dennis
Department of Biological Sciences