About the Team

This year our iGEM team consists of four undergraduate students and five high school students. We are being advised by one professor, a research associate, and a PhD student.

Undergraduate Students

Thomas Patrick
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Hi. My name is Tom Patrick, and I am on the University of Alberta iGEM team this year. I just finished my first year studying engineering, and I am going to specialize in environmental engineering. Synthetic biology is a field I find very interesting, and I am excited to be participating in this competition. I have no previous experience working with any of the biological sciences, and this experience has been a great introduction to this incredible field. My hobbies include skiing, listening to music, watching movies, and playing cards.
Easwar Vasi
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I am entering my third year of Immunology and Infection in the department of IMIN at the University of Alberta. Although, I have previous experience in labs (research and course), iGEM is going to be a new and exciting experience for me. As this is my first year in iGEM, I hope to apply the skills I learned from hands-on experience in labs and the knowledge gained in lectures. What truly makes me excited about iGEM is the independence and cooperation. The goal of the project, the methods undertaken to accomplish it, and the success and inevitable failures of the experiments rests entirely upon us (the team). I hope to increase the rate of success by working hard in the lab. Outside of the lab, I like to read science fiction books, play video games, and attempt to live a healthy lifestyle by playing badminton.
Nien-Tsu (Rick) Tseng
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I graduated in the summer of 2012 from the Biological Science program at the U of A. I am very proud to have had the opportunity to participate in the iGEM project. This project not only provided me with the laboratory work experience, it also fueled my interest to go into the research field. iGEM provided me the chances to share some different views about the future with other participants. The goal of the project was to provide me and other participants with techniques and way of thinking to successfully solve synthetic biology problems. Furthermore, the greatest teammates, TA, and professors in this iGEM team are like a microcosm world that gave me memories that I will never forget in life. I am looking forward to having lots of fun and excitement with my teammates in the future iGEM competition.
Spencer Short
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My name is Spencer Short. I am currently a third year genetics student studying at the University of Alberta. As a Genetics student, I was fascinated by the possibilities of synthetic biology, and quickly joined IGEM after my friend informed me of the competition. IGEM has opened my eyes to the inherent joys and frustrations of lab work and given me a greater respect for research scientists as a whole. The communal aspect of IGEM also appeals to me; sometimes we forget that science is living, breathing, mutualistic organism. When you meet like-minded people from across the globe just like you, in pursuit of a greater goal it really affects you: you become aware of something bigger than yourself. Science, and life for that matter, is about coming together with people and bettering society. Although it would be nice to win a gold medal this year, I’m just happy to be at the start of such an exciting, beautiful stream of science. When I’m not at the lab, I enjoy reading, meditating, running, working out, socializing, snowboarding, and playing soccer and softball.
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High School Students

Sarah Haeubl
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I am a high school student going into my grade 12 year at Strathcona High, where I am taking all three major sciences. My interests lie in many other areas, including music, theatre, and history, but biology stands out in particular. Coming from an academic family, I’ve always been intrigued by research and science, and I am thrilled to be participating in the iGEM competition where I have the opportunity to experience both of these things. I hope that I can get a clearer idea of what science at the university level is like over the course of the summer, and see some of the different post-secondary paths that appeal to my interests.
Torrin Lemire
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My name is Torrin Lemire, and I recently finished high school at Archbishop MacDonald in Edmonton. Next year, I will be attending the University of Alberta in the engineering program. I have some lab experience, having previously worked in an engineering lab developing and testing dry adhesives. As this is my first year participating in the iGEM program, I am looking forward to learning about synthetic biology and developing new lab skills. In my spare time, I enjoy playing competitive soccer, reading, and biking in the river valley.
Peter West
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I have had an interest in science for most of my academic career, with taking all three major sciences in high school, and competing in the Edmonton Science Olympics competition being among my scientific activities. However, I also enjoy art, having taken part in my school’s musical as well as its jazz and men’s choir. I spent last summer working in a machine shop, and I am excited for the new challenge of taking part in the iGEM competition. I am especially interested in getting the best results I can get, and making positive contributions to science in general.
Abdullah Farooq
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I am going into grade 11 next year. I have always been interested in the natural world around me, and this interest has cultivated into a keen interest in synthetic biology. I have participated in science fairs and competitions related to science. I have always loved experimenting in the kitchen, much to the pain of my family and parents. I previously worked on a carbon monoxide biosensor. I really appreciate the opportunity to do work in a laboratory on an iGEM team. In addition to my academics, I enjoy parkour and freerunning, tae kwon do, and growing yogurt.
Aidan Burke
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I have a very small background in science, but participating in the IGEM competition has sparked a new interest and hobby. I have a large background in theatre and have been fortunate enough to be cast in plays with the Edmonton Citadel Theatre, and the Edmonton Fringe Festival. I enjoyed being involved with my high school’s musical this year, and participating in my high school’s men’s choir and jazz choir. A huge thanks to Dr. Ellison for making me a part of an awesome team.
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PhD Student Supervisor

Ryan Mercer
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I am a PhD candidate from the Department of Biology at Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland. I have recently relocated to Edmonton where I am finishing writing my PhD thesis and assisting with supervising the University of Alberta 2012 iGEM team part time. I have a strong background in molecular microbiology and hope to share my knowledge and experience with this year’s team as they use recombinant DNA cloning to complete their project. Outside the lab, I have interests in general science, fitness and sports.
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Mike Ellison Doug Ridgway
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