University of Calgary




As the second stop of our tour, we have an introduction to our team! We are a diverse group of 15 undergraduate students and 4 supervisors from health sciences, engineering, kinesiology, and computer science. Read below for some introductions about us and our fantastic university: The University of Calgary. Afterwards, you can click HERE for the next stop of our tour.

Prima Moinul
I’ve just completed my first year in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Calgary. I have a strong background in basic cell biology, DNA replication and lab work with E.coli bacteria. As a team leader for iGEM marketing, I will focus on promoting and marketing our project to a larger audience and work with sponsors to fund our project. The idea of a student-run research program immediately caught my attention because it encourages undergrads to work collectively in a group as well as individually to exercise our own creative thoughts, ideas and innovations. I also enjoy the interdisciplinary system of the iGEM project, especially the wet lab and marketing components. Aside from iGEM, I am also actively involved in the community with numerous volunteer activities. In my spare time, I love reading, camping, biking, travelling, and most importantly, shopping! I’m looking forward to working with the team and learning about synthetic biology!
Sung Yong (Kevin) Shin
I am majoring in Biomechanics of Kinesiology. As part of the wetlab section of the team, I am responsible for carrying out biological lab procedures and communicating with both the wetlab and computer modeling groups. I joined because I am interested in the concept of engineering bacteria as well as application of physics and biology. I have always liked playing with legos, which is quite similar to synthetic biology, with some background biology and nerdiness. I am interested in putting parts together in order to make one big system work, such as legos and electrical circuits. Outside of iGEM, my hobbies include hiking, fiddling with electronics, and playing sports. I am quite excited to be working with the iGEM team as it will be my first real opportunity to do research in the biology field.
Katie Ovens
I have just completed my first year of Health Sciences in the Bioinformatics stream. I became interested in iGEM because I saw it as a chance to learn about the emerging field of synthetic biology. Being part of a team environment was also desirable due to this project being my first research experience at the university level. I am interested in working on the implementation of technology in science, and developing my own skills as my educational career progresses. I am working with the Second Life team to construct educational tools to further promote science by using technology. The goal will be to provide a high quality service to a large audience that has the potential to be more personal and effective than traditional teaching methods. It will give me the chance to apply my current computer programming skills as well as learn from the other team members and experience the difference between computational problem solving and traditional laboratory investigation.
Patrick King
My major is in Bioinformatics under the Bachelor of Health Sciences program at the University of Calgary. I was a member of the iGEM team in the University of Calgary's first and second iGEM competitions in 2006 and 2007. In the past, I have worked on the chemotaxis and quorum sensing projects. It's exciting to be back again this year, guiding one of our 2009 projects: online outreach and education via Second Life. I'm most interested in the standardization and characterization aspects of synthetic biology, and I have gained lots of wet-lab and programming experience through my experiences in iGEM.
Carol Chan
I am currently studying chemical engineering with a biomedical engineering specialization at the University of Calgary. Prior to starting my engineering degree, I completed a degree in biomedical sciences. The reason I decided to join the 2009 iGEM team is because the idea of synthetic biology is new and exciting. More importantly, I have the great opportunity to experiment engineering with biology, which is where most of my interests lie. I will also be exposed to collaborative teamwork which is an essential element of engineering. Some of my other interests include sports, sports and more sports. I don't play very many sports, but I sure love watching football and hockey on TV! I also like cooking, learning new recipes from dad and watching movies!
Vicki Komisar
I just wrapped up my fourth year in the University of Toronto’s Engineering Science program, with a specialization in biomedical engineering. I am excited to be back in Calgary and representing my hometown in my first iGEM experience, with a focus on the lab work and modeling. My experience over the last four years has been all across the board, with summer research projects in biomechanics and rehabilitation engineering; as well as coursework that entailed a series of rather nefarious biomedical and nanoparticle-based wet labs. When I’m not satisfying my lust for bacterial genomics, I’m usually either swimming, skating or learning German in preparation for a work placement in Bern, Switzerland. If you’re at the jamboree, come say hi. I’ll even throw in a free horoscope reading for the fun of it! Cheers!
Chinmoyee Mukerji
I am a 3rd year student studying Chemical Engineering at the University of Calgary. This year, I will be helping to promote iGEM alongside the Marketing and Management teams. I joined this team because synthetic biology fascinates me. I believe that it is paving the way for a technological revolution. I hope to increase awareness in the community about synthetic biology and how it may open doors for further advancements through the accomplishments of our iGEM team. Outside of summer work, I enjoy playing the piano. I often sing classical Indian songs. I love painting, sketching- anything involving art! I also love photography and gardening.
Fahd Mirza
I am in my second year at the University of Calgary and am majoring in Health and Society in the Bachelors of Health Sciences. I love cellular biology and I have taken courses in Biology and Medical Sciences. I have also worked with bacteria in biology labs in my first year. I love cooking and soccer and I am a huge Manchester United fan. I also enjoy volunteering and spending time with my friends. I want to pursue a career in Public Health and work for improving the health and wellness of society. I have strong communication and organizational skills that will also help contribute to the team. I have had marketing experience while volunteering in a hospital in 2006. I helped the marketing department in creating health awareness literature and in organizing health awareness programs. I believe that with my skills and background, I can help the University of Calgary iGEM team achieve its goals.
Emily Hicks
I’ve just finished my first year as a Health and Society student in the Bachelor of Health Sciences program. I have taken Medical Science and biology courses as well as ethics and Health in Society. I joined the iGEM team because I’m really excited to have the opportunity to work on something that’s novel and part of a very diverse team. I think synthetic biology is an interesting and powerful field that will only grow in the near future and it’s exciting to be a part of something that may be able to come up with solutions to global problems. This summer I’m going to be working on the outreach team as well as in the lab and the iGEM wiki. I will be helping to present our project to high school students to try to build more interest in synthetic biology in Alberta. In my spare time I compete in highland dancing, play the oboe in the University of Calgary symphonic band and participate in plays with Storybook theatre.
Stefan Marcus
Stefan is a second year Biomedical student currently completing his Bachelor of Health Sciences in the faculty of Medicine. It is the first time he has entered the iGEM competition. As a health science student he has experience in molecular biology as well as important disciplines such as ethics and health in society. He is excited not only to be a part of the Second Life team in creating a virtual educational tool but also to help out with the lab, marketing and outreach components of the project. He hopes to bring the team together with enthusiasm. In his spare time, Stefan likes milksteak, not going to the zoo and writing in third-person.
Jeremy Kubik
I have just finished my second year at the University of Calgary in biomedical sciences in the Bachelor of Health Sciences program. In the summer of 2008, I worked under a private investigator in the field of pulmonary surfactant. This year I am quite excited to be part of the iGEM team primarily because it is student-directed research and as a result, we are encouraged to provide input to the research tasks. This year, I will be part of the wetlab team working on mutant circuits in order to test the overall signaling circuit, and I will also be helping with the iGEM team wiki. I expect to learn about all the relevant laboratory techniques in the field, as well as receive a thorough understanding of the second life and marketing aspects of the project which will be required to ensure the overall team's success. Outside of my interest in biology, I am quite involved in all types of sports, in particular, being part of the U of C Dinos swim team.
Mandy Cheung
I’ve just completed my second year in the Biomedical Sciences program at the University of Calgary. In 2007, I participated in the Sanofi Aventis biotechnology Challenge. This year, as a member of the iGEM team, I will be involved in developing community outreach to educate the community, mostly junior high and high school students about synthetic biology through the creation of a 3D virtual learning environment. I hope to better understand the use of technology in developing initiatives that promote education through exploration. I am excited to work with students from different disciplines to further explore the technology and applications of synthetic biology through multiple aspects, from the mathematical modeling of systems to the marketing of projects. Outside of the iGEM, I’ll most likely be baking, playing video-games, or going out with friends. I believe this summer will be an incredible learning experience. (^▽^) V - <3
Jamie Feng
Finishing up my first year in the Biomedical Sciences stream of the Health Sciences program, I have taken a smattering of molecular biology courses. My first iGEM experience this summer will see me helping out with lab and marketing. The reason I decided to join was the added challenge of doing molecular biology work and adding in aspects of engineering, marketing, outreach and education. In my two years of previous research work the focus was on molecular biology, ranging from protein isolation to biofilm destruction. Beyond the iGEM environment, I find myself involved with volunteer organizations such as AIESEC, recreational swimming and computer gaming. ✌
Afshin Esmaeili
I just completed my BSc degree in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Calgary. I am starting as a grad student in CPSC, under the supervision of Dr. Christian Jacob, working on modeling biological systems using Membrane Computing (MC). My previous research work was on evolution of discrete gene regulatory models and applying heuristic optimization methods toward more stable gene regulatory networks. My research interests are in evolutionary computation, biological modeling and medical sciences. I'll be working with the 2009 iGEM team to help model the Quorum-Coupled Bacteriocin Release system implemented by the wet-lab team using Membrane Computing.
Iman Yazdanbod
I am going into my second year of Bioinformatics in the Bachelors of Health Sciences program at the U of C. I am working on the computing and modeling aspects of iGEM. I will be working on the visualization of the Membrane Computing Project and I’m also helping to add some visual features to the model designed by Afshin. iGEM is a wonderful opportunity to gain a better understanding of cellular structures and gene expression, and since I am interested in cellular and molecular biology and computer programming, I was drawn into this project. I usually listen to music or socialize with my friends in my free time. Everyday I try to allocate some time to hang out with my family. I also play soccer. I am interested in travelling as well.
Thane Kubik
This is my second year as a member of the University of Calgary’s iGEM team. Last year, I was on the University of Calgary Wetware team and I had a blast! I had such a great time that with the help of Sonja, Dr. Jacob and Dr. Nygren, I initiated recruitment for our iGEM team thereby bolstering our ranks from 4 to 16 team members. As a fourth year biomedical student in the Bachelor of Health Sciences program, I approach iGEM as an amazing opportunity to apply some of great biological theory that I have learnt to the design of my own biological systems. This year, as one of the facilitators of the team, I am really enjoying dabbling in all aspects of our project (beyond just the wetlab) including mathematical modeling, marketing, ethics and Second Life. Indeed, incorporating all of these aspects into one complete package represents the most exciting challenge yet!
Sonja Georgijevic
I have B.Sc. degree in Cellular, Molecular and Microbial Biology, and M.Sc. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, both from the University of Calgary. Currently, I am a Ph.D. student in Educational Technology. For the past three years I have been teaching third year undergraduate courses in molecular biology in the University of Calgary Bachelor of Health Sciences program. I have also been involved with University of Calgary iGEM teams, acting as laboratory supervisor and facilitator since the summer of 2006. It is my involvement with iGEM that prompted my interests in undergraduate science education and educational technology. I am interested in developing educational tools for teaching undergraduate level science.
Dr. Christian Jacob
I received my Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany. In July 1999, I joined the Department of Computer Science (Faculty of Science). Since August 2003, I also hold a joint appointment with the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology(Faculty of Medicine), where I am the Director of Bioinformatics in the Bachelor of Health Sciences Program. I lead the Evolutionary & Swarm Design (ESD) research group of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Weare investigating how to apply evolutionary, swarm and collective intelligence techniques in various application domains. So far, the ESD research group has built computer simulations and visualizations of systems such as traffic flow, biomolecular interactions,and swarm architectures. Our project details can be found at the ESD website. I have written two books on evolutionary computing and natural programming paradigms: Principia Evolvica (dpunkt, Heidelberg, 1997; in German) and Illustrating Evolutionary Computation with Mathematica (Morgan Kaufmann, San Francisco, 2001). For the fourth year, I am acting as one of the facilitators for the UofC iGEM team.
Dr. Anders Nygren
I have a PhD from Rice University, Houston, Texas, and MSc degrees from the University of Houston and the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. Since 2004, I am an Assistant Professor in the Centre for Bioengienering Research & Education and the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Calgary. My main research interests deal with the electrophysiology of the heart, using a combination of experimental measurements and computer modeling. I realized a couple of years back that many of the modeling methods used in my research also can be applied to an area I knew nothing about at the time: Synthetic Biology. This is the second year I have been involved in iGEM and, like last year, I think it is fair to say that I have learned more from the team members than anyone has learned from me! We have several Engineering students on the team this year and I am sure there will be even more in future years. The Biomedical Engineering Program here at the U of C is only a few years old, but we already have a great momentum going with lots of great students.

The University of Calgary was founded in 1966 and since then has become one of the top research institutions in Canada. The wide range of Bachelor programs in 16 faculties and 36 research centers offer the almost 20,000 undergraduate students a large array of resources to develop their personal and professional lives in order to become successful. The iGEM team worked in well-equipped laboratories such as those found in the O'Brien Center and in Michael Surette's laboratory in the Health Sciences Center.