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Team Profiles

Click the thumbnails below to learn more about each member of the team!

James Thorogood

I am in my second year of Mechanical Engineering with a biomedical specialization. This summer I had a blast with iGEM Calgary, where I have been responsible for the development of the biosensor hardware and software package. This is my first time partaking in research, and I have learned volumes about biology, genetics, engineering and more. After my time at iGEM, I am beginning to consider an engineering career path in/around these fields. I also learned that biologists are people too. In my free time, I play various sports, hike and cliff-jump in Banff, browse GrooveShark, lose to Colin in foosball, jam, and spend time with friends. I also devote my time to the position of Sports Director with the Engineering Student’s Society, and the team-lead for a youth engagement group in Engineers Without Borders.

Nick Cassar

Hello, my name’s Nick, and this is my first year involved with iGEM. What a wonderful experience this has been, from building circuits to dabbling in programming to getting everything to work perfectly. I love coming to work every morning, and it’s always a pleasure to be with everyone here. In my spare time I enjoy playing guitar/piano or just hitting up the gym. Go Team!

Robert Mayall

I'm Robert, a fourth year student studying Biomedical Science at the University of Calgary. This is my second year in iGEM and I haven't been scared off yet. I like long walks on the beach and genetically modifying bacteria to do my bidding. My main focus in our iGEM project is FRED, and I get to do the electrochemistry. I have no idea how the others can say things about the world outside of iGEM, who has time for a life with all these projects?

Peter Qi

I am a fourth year Bachelor of Health Sciences student (biomedical sciences stream). Before iGEM, my research interests are in obesity and type II diabetes mellitus. I was part of the Calgary iGEM team last year. I am super excited to be part of the iGEM project this year again. I am working towards finding genetic elements that acts as a specific and sensitive sensor for the environmental toxin, naphthenic acids. In my spare time, I like to play basketball, the clarinet, or watch movies.

Adam Hasham

Hey, I’m Adam a second year Chemical Engineering student at the Schulich school of Engineering. This year I helped iGEM Calgary primarily on the bioreactor subgroup making the bioreactor prototype and helping with the Maya animations. This is the first time I have been a part of iGEM and I had a wonderful experience. In my spare time I like to play soccer and video games. I also love traveling with friends and exploring the world. My favorite place in the world is Grenada, Spain because of culture and history of the city.

Ali Honarmand

Hi I’m Ali and I’m starting my third year of biological sciences this fall. iGEM is my first research experience and so far it’s been awesome: Learning about synthetic biology, being part of a great team and having fun. This summer I was part of the desulfurization subgroup mainly mutagenizing genes. I think the best part of iGEM is being able to test new ideas. Besides university I play soccer, bike, run, volunteer, read and snowboard.

Anya Kornilo

I finished my 3rd year as a joint major in Biological and Computer Sciences. I am looking forward to participating in the wet lab component of iGEM this summer. This will be my first time trying out independent research in the lab. I'm excited to be a part of such diverse group of students and can't wait to see what we can come up with! In my spare time I am involved in swimming, gymnastics and enjoy many kinds of music.

Asim Chawdhry

I am an undergraduate student pursuing a double major at the University of Calgary. I am currently in my fourth year of a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in Biological Science, and my third year of a Bachelor of Commerce degree with a specialization in Marketing. This has been my first experience working with iGEM, and I have primarily been involved in the wet lab with the hydrocarbon decarboxylation team. I believe that iGEM provides a great opportunity for students from several different disciplines to get together and combine their knowledge and interests, and work towards a common goal. Whenever given the opportunity, I love going out to the mountains to ski! I am also an avid car enthusiast.

Chenzhe Qian

I’m in my last year of Computer Science and Biological Science in University of Calgary. This program combination is always confusing people. Not many knows what can happen if computer meets biology, a magic. Here is the answer, iGEM! This is my first year in iGEM and I love it. This is the place where I can do exactly what I want to do. I am interested in bioinformatics, genetics, microbiology as well as programming. In past two years, I’ve involved two modeling projects. One is aim to model human kidney in 3D for education purpose, and the other one is using individual-based model to simulate ecology system. In my spare time, I like to do some reading, writing, drawing random things or maybe thinking for nothing.

Colin Brown

Hello, my name is Colin Brown. I am a second year student at the University of Calgary studying mechanical engineering with a biomedical specialization. This past summer was filled with lots of learning about the vast field of synthetic biology, as it was my first year with iGEM Calgary. I came to realize that engineering has many different applications in biotechnology, and is a field I have become very interested in. Over the past few months I helped design our team’s bioreactor, which included design research, computer modeling, and physical prototyping. I am also a sports director with the Engineering Student Society, and am a new member of the formula SAE (society of automotive engineers) design team with UofC. Other interests of mine include hockey, golf, outdoor activities, and spending time with family and friends.

Emily Hicks

This is my fourth summer in iGEM, which probably means that I really need to get a life. This summer I will be working on both team OSCAR and FRED as well as yelling at people in the lab for leaving the gel boxes open and moving the enzymes. I’ll no doubt be enjoying the late nights in the lab and hope to learn by the end of the season how to successfully carry a gel from the lab to the imager in one piece. In my spare time I enjoy beating David at flight control, collecting stuffed pandas and other important tasks.

Jeff Addison

Prior to attending the University of Calgary I completed a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology at McGill University and am now working towards a second degree in Biology. This is my first iGEM experience and I've really enjoyed the opportunity to develop my research skills and learn from a great team of advisors and fellow students. My work in the lab has been concentrated on the denitrogenation project within the hydrocarbon team. Typically this involves doing endless PCR, digests, and transformations, followed by more PCR. In my spare time I enjoy the outdoors, specifically riding my bike and backcountry hiking/mountaineering, as well as watching my favourite sports teams.

Lisa Oberding

I have just graduated from the University of Calgary with a degree in Cellular, Molecular, and Microbial Biology. This is my first year with iGEM, which I got involved with as a chance to gain more research experience, learn about synthetic biology, and further define my research interests. Outside of the lab I enjoy snowboarding in the Rockies (sliding down the mountain on my face), camping (being chased by angry insects), reading, and drawing (possibly the only two safe hobbies I have- unless you count paper cuts). On the team this year I have mostly been a part of the desulfurization project, as well as helping out with a transposon library screen. And, as of yet, I have not set myself or anything else on fire.

Mike Mooney

I am a biochemistry student entering into the fourth and hopefully final year of my undergraduate degree. I am not yet certain what I'm going to do with this degree, but I have lofty aspirations to go into dentistry in the long term. More likely, I will end up pursuing higher education in biochemistry. iGEM is my first genuine (non-class based) lab experience and has imbued me with the wondrous powers of science. I am very excited to gain some useful and practical knowledge of lab work. In what little spare time I enjoy, I like to draw pictures of things, write about other things, and lie around loudly lamenting how busy I usually am.

Stephanie Willatt

I am going into my third year of biological sciences specializing in Botany. This is my first summer working in a research lab and I am excited about this new experience. I will mainly be working in the wet lab component. During the summer I hope to gain new knowledge about synthetic biology as well as learn new lab techniques. Outside of school, I am interested in music, playing the bassoon, cycling and snowboarding.

Tsarina VanWieren

I am entering into my fourth year of Biological Sciences at the University of Calgary. Being involved in iGEM has been a very interesting and exciting experience for me and I have learned a great deal from it. Over the summer I have taken part in the wet lab portion of the research, in finding a means to decarboxylate napthenic acids via microbial modification. I am an active individual who enjoys getting involved in the community, and I am also fond of reading novels, swimming, hiking, travelling, and listening to music. Synthetic biology has always intrigued me, making iGEM a fascinating learning experience, and I have especially enjoyed the strong team aspect of the project.

Chris Wintersinger

I am a Biomedical Sciences major in the University of Calgary's Bachelor of Health Sciences program. I enjoy candlelit dinners, long walks on the beach, and balancing magnesium salt concentrations for creating PCR master mixes. When I'm not in the lab using glucose to repress transcription of S7 micrococcal nuclease, you will find me lusting after beat-up pickup trucks listed on the Internet, or using my Brownie Hawkeye box camera to take pictures that look like I smeared the lens with Vaseline. After I graduate from iGEM, I hope to pursue a career as a chimney sweep, door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman, or failing those, perhaps a biomedical engineer.

Cooper Davies

I am a third year biological science major, hoping to specialize in genetics further down the road. I really enjoy mostly three things. Reading, Music, and Movies. Kurt Vonnegut, or Joseph Heller would be my favourite authors, and I assume that explains quite a bit about me in and of itself anyway. In my spare time I also enjoy boxing as a sport. This would be my first time doing both iGEM, as well as any actual research at all, and I must say I quite enjoyed it this summer! It was a good time getting to know the the team as well as doing the occasional lab help.

Himika Dastidar

Hi my name is Himika and I am a veteran iGEMer, I was on the Calgary team in 2010. This year I decided to rejoin the team. I recently graduated from Biomedical Sciences honours and will be starting a Masters degree in September 2013. In my free time I do martial arts and painting.

Iain George

I just completed my undergraduate degree in Cellular, Molecular and Microbial Biology at the University of Calgary. Currently, I work in Dr. Howard Ceri and Dr. Ray Turner labs studying how bacterial biofilms can be used to cleanup toxic environments. My research has focused two species of Pseudomonas that can interact with and possibly degrade naphthenic acids and chlorinated biphenyl while contending with heavy metal conditions. This fall I am beginning a Masters project studying functional genomics in yeast. This is my first year working with the team and it has given me the great chance to mentor my teammates and learn new skills. When I am not living in the lab, you'll find me in the amazing mountains and trying my hand at photography.

Jay Wang

I am a third year student in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Calgary.This is my first year in iGEM, but not my first year doing research. I had research experience in gastrointestinal and cardiovascular fields and astrophysics. I am super excited to be part of iGEM because I get the opportunity to explore micro-molecular biology! Unfortunately, I won't be working in wet lab; I will mainly work with the human practice and the business team. In my spare time, I love to volunteer, learn about any fields of science, collecting rocks, stamps, and coins, and watch movies.

Jaya Mishra

Annyeong haseyo! My name is Jaya and I am a student of general biology. Although I chose this major to explore the diversity of living things, I have recently become interested synthetic biology and its usefulness in solving major issues. I participated on the KillSwitch and Human Practices on the project this summer and thoroughly enjoyed developing and expanding my lab skills. As you can tell from my greeting, I am extremely interested in Korean language, culture and most importantly, entertainment. Apart from my strange fascination of Korean television, I like learning about invertebrate zoology.

Kevin Huie

I have currently finished my first year of Biological Sciences at the University of Calgary. This is my first year in iGEM as well as my first taste in working on a research project. Being a part of the University of Calgary iGEM team has been and continue to be a great learning experience from hands on work to gaining knowledge from team members’ past experiences I have developed better skills in multitasking and multi-managing. This year I have been working on the wet lab part of the project, in particular the killswitch. I enjoy playing soccer, drawing, building things and hanging out with friends.

Nirab Pant

I joined the Calgary iGEM team after completing my first-year at the UofC and spending the summer with the team has been quite a thrill. The field of synthetic biology is really dynamic and I have been involved mainly in the design and construction of the desulfurization components in the conversion of NAs to useful hydrocarbons, as well as in developing an integrated human practices element to the project.

Patrick Wu

I'm wrapping up my fourth year in Bioinformatics, which means that once I graduate, I will pretend to know both biology and computer science. In reality, the only computer science I can probably do is HTML, and so my primary work this year was building this wiki. And drawing cute things. Both of these responsibilities have made me into a pretty big design geek over the summer. This is my third year in iGEM, and I continue to work against the advice and concerns of my friends and family physician. In my "spare time" I draw, do karate, and sleep (a dying art).

Peter Liu

Currently in my second year of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Calgary, I have a passion for any biological research that involves advanced technology, the potential to benefit our society in the long run, and innovative areas that no one else has explored before. Our iGEM project is an ideal example of this type of project. Focusing on the human practice component, I wanted to combine what I have learned as a mock trial competitor, debater, and future scientist to explore the feasibility and any potential obstacles that our project might encounter in the real world. When I don’t have my pipette at hand, glasses on, and juggling between school and humanitarian advocacy campaigns, I volunteer, do martial arts, and coach aspiring ninjas in my city.

Rai Chaudhuri

Hello! My name is Rai and I am a current third year student at the University of Calgary. I am majoring in Biomedical Sciences and minoring in Health and Society. This is my first time being a part of iGEM and I can truly say that it has been a memorable summer. I have learned a lot, made great new friends, and have broken all of my previous records of caffeine intake and sleep deprivation. I have also learned that I am not a fan of parafilming. My response to most things either giggling or threatening to pipette stab. I really enjoy dancing, especially salsa, Bollywood movies, eating spicy food, the colour red, and I have always wanted a tiger cub for a pet.

Roberta Menezes

I have just graduated from University of Southampton, UK, with a BSc (Hons) in Biomedical Sciences. I love spending my summers volunteering in different labs around the world. I have done this previously at the University of Zaragoza, Spain, helping research on atherosclerosis, and at the Evandro Chagas Institute, a centre for tropical disease, in Brazil. It is my first time taking part in iGEM and it has been an amazing experience being involved in the wet lab part of the project. Not only have I experienced the world of synthetic biology, but I have also made many great friends. Some of my hobbies outside of the lab include, painting, dancing, and eating good food!

Zhibek Salimbayeva

Initially from Kazakhstan, Zhibek grew up in the cold heights of the Tian Shan Mountains amongst the country’s symbolic snow leopards. In 2004 she moved to Canada in hopes to start an eagle hunting business with her brother Borat in the prairie provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. However, due to the strict regulations and small market the business soon went downhill. She is now in her 3rd year of biological sciences at the University of Calgary, and is hoping to pursue the field of Medicine. Her favorite cuisine includes Kazakh traditional horsemeat sausages (kazy), roasted sheep head, and salty cheese balls (qurut). In her spare time she practices archery, camel riding and playing music on a dombra.

Dr. Anders Nygren

I have a PhD from Rice University, Houston, Texas, and MSc degrees from the University of Houston, Texas and the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. I am an Associate Professor in the Centre for Bioengineering 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 few years ago that the modeling methods used in this research also can be applied to an area I knew nothing about at the time: Synthetic Biology. This is the fourth time I am involved as one of the facilitators for a U of C iGEM team.

Dr. Doug Muench

I am a Plant Cell Biology Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Calgary. I completed a PhD in Genetics at the University of Alberta and spent a few years as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Institute of Biological Chemistry, Washington State University. My main research focus is on the study of subcellular dynamics, however, this past year my research group initiated a project on the identification of plant genes that are important in the reclamation of tailings ponds. As an iGEM rookie myself, it’s exciting to see a group of students with diverse backgrounds come together and use their individual expertise to approach an important environmental problem.

Dr. Lisa Gieg

I have been doing research in the field of environmental microbiology for about 20 years. I hold a Ph.D. from the University of Alberta, and worked for a dozen years as a PDF and Senior Researcher at the University of Oklahoma before coming to the University of Calgary as an Assistant Professor in Biological Sciences. My research focuses on petroleum metabolism by microbes in the context of oil spill clean-up, microbial enhanced energy recovery, and in oil sands tailings ponds remediation. This is my second year being involved with iGEM. It is a pleasure to work with dynamic, smart, and talented students and colleagues who are exploring the use of synthetic biology to solve real world problems.

Dr. Mayi Arcellana-Panlilio

I am an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. I have been involved with teaching/mentoring in the Bachelor of Health Sciences program since 2003, primarily to develop and deliver the Honours Cell & Molecular Biology course, a core requirement in the curriculum. I have taught every offering of that course and received numerous accolades from the Faculty and the students, most recently winning the Teaching Excellence Award for 2010-2011 from the University of Calgary Students Union. This is my second year as an iGEM Instructor and my interest in the program springs from my belief in the value of inquiry as a means to getting students engaged in the pursuit of knowledge and developing habits of becoming lifelong learners.

David Lloyd

This is my fourth year being involved in iGEM in which time I have had the opportunity to work with the Alberta team for two years as an undergraduate and now as a team advisor for Calgary for the second year. I am in the process of completing my MSc in Biochemistry and have many interests including Genetics, Immunology, Cell Biology, Bioinformatics, and Microbiology. In the future, I hope to merge my passions for Biochemistry, Cell Biology, and Synthetic Biology into an exciting career, opening up a biotechnology company around biological solutions to everyday problems. iGEM has been an amazing opportunity and I greatly look forward to another year in the competition!

Dylan Silver

Dylan is a 4th-year Ph.D. candidate in Plant Biochemistry studying starch metabolism. First-time member of iGEM, he joined the 2012 University of Calgary team as a Senior Advisor after learning about the intriguing and challenging project focused on the remediation of oil sand tailings ponds. His extensive knowledge in molecular biology and enzymology provides assistance to students with their experimental design and troubleshooting. Dylan is thrilled to be part of the iGEM team – an enriching community that offers valuable experience for future endeavors in research and development in synthetic biology.

Maggie Renaud-Young

I am in my fourth year of the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology PhD program in the Southern Alberta Cancer Biology Research Group at the University of Calgary. The focus of my studies is the cellular response to obstructed DNA replication, and how disturbances to this process contribute to genome instability using the budding yeast model system. This is the second year that I have worked with iGEM and it is has been a great experience for me. I really enjoy the team approach of taking composite parts to build systems that can perform unique biological functions. I love the social aspect of being on the team and I especially look forward to attending the Jamborees.