2012 iGEM - University of Lethbridge

Our Team

We were very lucky this year to have a diverse group of students with a diverse skill set. Some of our students are new to the iGEM team while others are joining us again in our research endeavors.

Alvin Lee

I am currently majoring in Biochemistry at the University of Lethbridge, and I will be entering my second year in the fall. This will be my first year contending in the iGEM competition. I joined the UofL iGEM team to exploit the many opportunities it has to offer. And so far, the program is very rewarding: it allows me to explore an alternative and fascinating field of biology, and provides me with the privilege of working alongside and learning from veteran iGEMers. But enough of the science-y stuff! When I’m not working in the Kothe RNA lab or the iGEM lab, you can find me on the battlegrounds defending the Sanctuary from the Prime Evils or living vicariously through the Game of Thrones series. But aside from the medieval fantasy, I also enjoy hiking, and playing badminton.

Anthony Vuong

Anthony Vuong, that is my full name. I am brother to the one with the same surname (Ben). Majoring in Biology; the University of Lethbridge I am attending. This will be my last year—oh my, so near the ending. Also, this is my third year iGEMing. A single beer is all it takes for a crimson glow to grace my face. A common problem, they do say, for the people of my race. For me, it is a bother, though not one for my younger brother. Is it ironic that “Red” is my favourite colour? Some may say I have a unique sense of fashion. Though shy I once was, not one for social interaction. But now, others shout “Eccentric” whilst smirking at my actions. A lion’s head, I may embellish in a dance of which I do so relish—a musical exhibition originating from the Chinese tradition (Chinese Lion Dance).

Ben Vuong

I was born and raised in Lethbridge. I have just finished up my second year at the University of Lethbridge currently majoring in Neuroscience. This is my second year participating in the iGEM collegiate division, as well as my first year as an advisor for the 2012 Lethbridge High School Division team. I plan on pursuing a career as a Veterinarian after finishing up my undergraduate degree at the University of Lethbridge. I look forward to working with all the other team members and any other labs we have the opportunity to collaborate with. In my spare time I find myself enjoying badminton, basketball and exercising.

Boris Lam

Lambo is back once again!

This will be the second time in all of iGEM history! Returning from the great iGEM experience I had in 2011. This will be my fourth year of university where I am currently majoring in neuroscience. When I am not sweating over a bunsen burner or mass murdering bacteria in lab, you can find me on the battlefield wearing shiny sneakers and protecting the entire human race from supernatural beings with just a mere xbox controller. On my days off, I enjoy jamming/dancing to music (not in public of course ^_^), playing hockey, golfing and any kind of sport in general. I look forward in meeting everyone at the Jamboree this year!


Dustin Smith

Hi! I'm Dustin. I was born and raised in Lethbridge, and this is my final year as an undergraduate majoring in biochemistry. This is my second year in iGEM, and as always it has been a great experience. The U of L iGEM team is a great group to work with and I'm happy to be a part of it. Outside of school my favourite activities are snowboarding, working out, or hanging out with friends.

Harland "the Cowboy" Brandon

This young cowboy has lived for several years on canned beans and buffalo jerky whilst on the pursuit of fortune along the rivers of southern Alberta. Armed with only his quick wit and his two “hand gunz” (see picture) has he been able to survive day to day in the rolling coulees he calls home. Some say that his smile has the power to scare packs of coyotes away while still able to lure deer into his striking range. While he has given up the solitary life of a rogue cowboy for life in a research lab he has not given up his true identity as the lone ranger in these parts. His dreams include designing and building a synthetic biology project with space application such that he may one day become a space cowboy. Seriously, he does want to invent and/or help invent a space synthetic biology project!

Ryan Pederson

Entombed by walls of monolithic stone while barred from vistas of bucolic plateaus regularly interspersed with the linear and euclidean masonry of modernity awash in the scintillating light of a gibbous moon occluded by peripatetic clouds, I toil on my work as scion of Darwin and Mendel peering at incalculable numbers of lilliputian bulbous creatures of peculiar properties imposed upon them by the contriving mind of man in the midst of a rancour of vacuous ribald jest and interminable pedantic criticism, precisely the sort pernicious and incessant buzzing that produces a deleterious effect on those possessing particularly sensitive sensibilities of the anachronistic variety. Or, in non-Lovecraftian speak, I work in a synthetic biology lab with no windows and discussions by me and my lab-mates are not always suitable for all audiences.

Sutherland Dube

Hey, I’m Sutherland (yes, that is my first name) and I just completed my undergrad in Neuroscience and will be beginning grad school in the fall. This is my second year on the Lethbridge iGEM team, in addition to being an advisor for the 2012 Lethbridge High School team. iGEM has been a great experience over the past couple of years— I’ve learned a ton! When I’m not in the lab (either neuroscience or iGEM), I love playing soccer and reading.

Richard McLean

Howdy y’all! I’m Richard and I’m entering my fourth year of biochemistry at the U of L. I spent a few years out of school before last fall exploring the culinary world so now I spend most of my time trying to catch up on my studies; The rest of my time I divide between iGem and the local Research Center. I like to think that if I wasn’t as busy, I would fill my free time with activities that would make this bio a more interesting read… At any rate, I’m looking forward to meeting everyone at the workshops and jamboree.

Jenna Friedt - Advisor

Hello! I am a graduate student at the U of L currently completing my Masters degree in Biochemistry and am looking forward to my second year participating in the iGEM competition. Since I’m convinced I was born in the wrong era, I’m currently looking for assistance in inventing a time machine to send me back to the ‘50s, where I would happily fit in with the bubblegum rockers and poodle skirt-wearing youth of the day. Until that happens, I’m content to read a good book, knit, or do crossword puzzles to pass the time outside the lab. Best wishes!

Fan Mo - Advisor

Fan currently works as a lab technician in the Wieden lab. In her spare time she likes to play badminton, computer games and dancing in the rain. She currently holds the title for best score playing gold miner among the Wieden lab. This is her third year in iGEM as a supervisor and looks forward to another year on the team.

Dipankar Goyal

Fellow iGemers, we all know Synthetic Biology has moving applications, solutions to problems that may go unresolved otherwise. I have been extremely fortunate to have been a part of the U of L iGEM for two years now and I can say the experience has been absolutely magnificent. Synthetic Biology defines one part of me; I also have keen interest in the field of medicine especially programs such as the Doctors without Borders. In my spare time, if any, I am either figuring out ways to park free of cost at the university or paying university parking tickets downtown.

Nathan Dawson

Hello! I’m Nathan a student at the University of Lethbridge, currently entering my second year of Neuroscience. One thing I’ve long known about myself is that I love the sciences, so when I found an opportunity to volunteer in a biochemistry lab this spring I took it without hesitation. Through the volunteer experience I gained a wealth of knowledge (something I’m always hungry for), and a desire to continue exploring the opportunities at the university, for more learning experiences. Being on the University of Lethbridge’s iGEM team has been a gateway to the exciting world of synthetic biology. When I’m not in one of the labs (Ute Kothe’s, or iGEM), I enjoy reading, biking, scuba diving, snowboarding, and volunteering with St. John Ambulance.

Iain Barkley

A 3rd year neuroscience major with an interests in synthetic biology for biomedical applications, in particular by engineering and modifying genetic circuits to facilitate enhanced communication and information processing between cells. Iain wishes to design more refined methods for neurobiological research by building upon the pre-existing knowledge of synthetic biology principles. He is captivated by iGEM because he believes it acts not only as a nexus for innovative and extraordinary applications that will shape and define the 21st century, but is a community rich in intellectual resources through which undergraduates previously had limited access to. He plans to pursue a career in biomedical research focusing on creating new treatments for neurodegenerative disorders.

Isaac Ward

Hello, I am a 3rd year Neuroscience major, and looking to gain all the experience I can in my undergrad career. So I am back for a second year of iGEM. I think iGEM provides great opportunities to diversify my skill set and while opening the doors to new possibilities. As an example this year I got the opportunity to be an advisor for the first Lethbridge High School iGEM team, it was an amazing experience to say the least. When I am not busy in the labs (like that ever happens), I enjoy being out having great adventures.

Jenn Huynh

Hello world! My name is Jennifer and I have currently only slogged through three full years of my major, Biochemistry. I have just recently been sucked into this whirling vortex of a world known as iGEM due to many persuasive arguments and have not yet lived to regret such a decision (which is a good thing). Hopefully the science and technology, that will further our lives in the very near future, will keep the remainder of the summer and the beginnings of autumn refreshing and fascinating. In the mean time while I am not slaving away in the lab I will occupy my time with catching up on sleep that I have missed during my time as a real student of the University of Lethbridge. It’s a pleasure to introduce myself and hopefully new friendships will emerge in the nearby future. Peace out … for now.

Justin Luu

I am an undergraduate student at the University of Lethbridge. I will be going into my second of four years in the B.Sc Biochemistry program. This is my first year competing in the iGEM competition and I am extremely excited. When I am not in the lab I enjoy sleeping, eating and spending time with family/friends. Oh wait! Movies are pretty good too! Thanks for taking the time to read my bio.

Katherine Gzyl
Hi I’m Katherine, and I am in my fourth year of biochemistry at the U of L. In my free time, when I have any, I enjoy snowboarding and the outdoors. I got involved with iGEM last year, because synthetic biology fascinated me. I find anything to do with science interesting, and iGEM was a great way to get into research. This year I have stayed on the team because we have a very interesting project and a team composed of some awesome people.

Makay Murray

Hi, my name is Makay Murray (and yes there is to letter ‘c’ in my name, but everyone thinks there should be) I’m currently collecting pre-requisites for Radiology which I plan to take in 2013. I was invited onto iGEM by Isaac and felt that actually working with bacteria in a lab would be very enlightening to know the deeper workings of cellular activity and how to manipulate these natural processes to create something new. While at school I am also the host of a CKXU 88.3fm radio show entitled University Power Users where I talk about stuff that I think students should know but will never be taught in any classroom. When I’m not at school I’m either working at Able Dental Group as a IT tech or enjoying the wonders of technology by playing various videogames like minecraft, DayZ and Halo.

Zak Stinson

Hey, I'm Zak. The only real reason I get up in the morning is the ever-looming eventuality that humanity will integrate with technology, creating a vast, swarm-like intelligence bent on the consumption of whole stellar systems. To help advance us towards our inevitable conquest, I am studying neuroscience and have decided to take part in the iGEM competition this year! This firm belief also explains my obsession with all consumer technology. I occupy the time between now and our eventual fate with bike rides, camping, and dance parties. Oh yeah, and resistance is futile.

Mackenzie Coatham - Advisor

Hi iGEMers! My name is Mackenzie and I’m a fourth year biochemistry major who is competing in iGEM for a THIRD time! I’ve been involved in scientific research since high school and still love every minute of studying proteins in translation or exploring what synthetic biology has to offer. When I’m not in a lab coat holding a pipette, I can often be found dancing or watching my fair share of So You Think You Can Dance!

Hans-Joachim Wieden - Supervisor

Originally from Germany I moved to Canada in 2005 to start a research group on the structure and function of the bacterial protein synthesis machinery, a cellular process targeted by over 50% of the known antibiotics. I am intrigued by the molecular design and function of this essential bio-nanomachine. I try to unravel the underlying design principles in order to enable the rational design and engineering of novel bio-nanomachines. I am essentially asking the question if such novel bio-machines can be constructed from simple and fundamental principles or are these assemblies just to complex. Well and that’s why it was extremely easy to rope me into doing iGEM.