Team freiburg.jpg
The FreiGEM 2012 Team

Our interdisciplinary team mainly consists of undergraduate students from every corner of the scientific landscape and beyond: Medicine, Biology, Molecular Medicine, Pharmaceutical Science and even Philosophy.

Our team leader Nicolas started the team in autumn 2011, when he first discussed participation in the competition with a small group of colleagues of his and some molecular medicine students, which were instantly enthusiastic about the prospect of taking part in a famous synthetic biology competition. The remaining team members joined in following up on announcements, through contact with former iGEM members or oral propaganda. The first meeting of our team was held in a Pub in Freiburg in November 2011 as an opportunity to get to know each other. Since 2011, weekly iGEM meetings were set on to get things moving: finding a promising idea, investigating former projects and interesting methods, founding a non-profit association, scouting sponsoring options. In spite of meeting every single week, it almost took us until April, that we finally pinned down an idea for our project: the development of a method to assemble a TAL protein with 14 DNA binding sites in one single reaction and the aim to use these proteins to direct effector enzymes to specific target sequences within the genome. To realize our project, we were able to go back to the unique knowledge of every single team member. Be it in research issues, financial questions or website-related problems, everyone in our team did his or her best to make the most out of the project. During the period of lab work, we tried to spend at least some time together away from the lab to strengthen team cohesion. We had a barbecue in Nico´s garden, bike tours around Freiburg and the obligatory late night search trip for food between gel extractions. Our work together was not only on a professional level but brought us together as friends and we surely will keep it that way beyond iGEM.

In the following, the freiGEM team members will introduce themselves:

Who we are

Student Leader

Nicolas Wyvekens
I´m a third-year medical student and the student group leader of our iGEM team. What I like most about iGEM is the opportunity to work on a project that we, as a team, have come up with and planned ourselves. As a medical student, I hadn’t received much training in molecular biology techniques, so it was very challenging for me to plan the project. Besides learning new lab skills, it was an important lesson to deal with frustration when days (and nights) of intense work turned up no positive results. In the end, it is even more rewarding to see that our idea actually works very well and that it attracts great interest from ’real’ scientists.

Master students

David Siegel
I'm 25 years old and studying biology in the 8th semster at the Albert-Ludwigs University Freiburg. Currently, I'm in the master programm and preparing to start my master thesis in the field of syntehtic biology and biotechnology.
The whole theory of synthetic biology, the idea of organising the seemingly chaotic structure of nature thrilled me since the first time I heard of it. When I got news of a new iGEM team I instantly took the chance and joined. Through the iGEM contest I was able to follow a project from the idea on a piece of paper, all the way to proof of concept experiments and final evaluation. I experienced the ups and downs of being in a team with people of so many disciplines and I got the chance to take part in every step that was necessary to make something happen.

Lisa Jerabek
I´m studying biology in the 8th semester and will start my Master´s thesis in the research area of synthetic biology in October. By joining in on freiGEM2012 I accepted the challenge of planning and realizing a self-made project in my research area of interest. I considered my participation in the iGEM team as an opportunity to broaden my expertise in many respects. For me, a really important experience was to face the difficulties of lab work in a large team of members with profoundly varying skills and to learn how to cope with these discrepancies. My primary role in the team was the management of cell cultural issues, which is what made me the “cell culture lady” of the team. I´m very grateful for the opportunity to learn new methods as well as to get to know new approaches to solving scientific problems and for such a great time with freiGEM2012.

Natalie Knoll
I'm studying biology in the 8th semester and starting to prepare for my master thesis. The iGEM 2012 contest was a great experience for me and im glad i took my last chance to join a iGEM team. It was a great time and i'm sure i will miss my team when the iGEM time ends. When im thinking about the countless hours we spend in the lap, all the days and at the end even the nights, i'm already sure i will miss this time and all the great people of my team.

Bachelor students

Lucas Schneider
During completion of my bachelor of science degree in molecular biology, I joined the IGEM Team of Freiburg. My research interests are molecular biology, bioinformatics and plant biotechnology. My role in freiGEM 2012 was to instruct an interdisciplinary team of students in molecular cloning and experimental design. Finally, I am proud that we got the toolkit and the TAL-Vectors up and running. It was a valuable experience working with such a team.

Lukas Boeckelmann
I am a student of Medicine in my fourth year and have always been fascinated by the opportunities that modern Molecular Biology has to offer. I have just started my MD thesis and many of the experiences I've already made with iGEM help me greatly. I have benefited tremendously from the iGEM project: It has been very rewarding to research a topic in such depth, to discuss it with the wonderful and bright (and funny) people I have met in our team and to then develop methodical solutions that actually function well! I am incredibly excited about the work we have done so far and about the work we will continue to do!

Franz Dressler
I´m a medical student in the 4th year and I joined iGEM due to the unlimited possibilities the project offers. It is a unique opportunity to explore a scientific question or to tackle an everyday biological problem - but the best thing about it: you are completely free to choose what field you want to engage in. From the medical point of view it is also intriguing to get more familiar with molecular methods. In all these regards my expectations have completely been fulfilled. We had an amazing time in the lab, but also exciting discussions and presentations, a vivid and enriching exchange of ideas and knowledge amongst the team members and thanks to the iGEM community. My special contributions to our project were modeling as well as layout and design of our website and posters.

Kimon Runge
I´m studying medicine in the 4th year and I participate in iGEM because I want to get a better insight in the workings of a laboratory. And what better source of insight can you get than operating your own lab as a team? Of course it’s much more than that and an experience I can recommend to anyone. My special mission is to plan the travels of the group.

Sebastian Kuechlin
I'm a medical student and currently in my fourth year of studies. What fascinates me about synthetic biology is the engineering aspect: I love reconsidering the knowledge I have learned thus far in my medical education and applying it in new ways: Participating in iGEM has altered my way of thinking about biology for good. When I'm not in the hospital, the lecture halls or labs, I love making music and have found a wonderful opportunity to do so as a piano player in our university's big band."

Fabian Stritt
I have completed two years of my bachelor of science curriculum in biology in Freiburg and will continue my studies in Strasburg in a bioengineering program. It was my interest in the synthetic aspects of biology, which motivated me to join the iGEM team. My particular contribution to our project was the organization of the film project, the result of which you can see on our website, as well as the representation of our team in Berlin at the 'Biotechnologie2020+' . For me, iGEM was a valuable experience which strengthened my wish to become a bioengineer. >

Philipp Warmer
This is a TALE about Philipp who grew up to become a bioengineer. Once upon a time this Philipp started studying biology at Freiburg University and got very attracted to the beauty that resides within the simplicity of SynBio. As he got older he joined the freiGEM Team to take part in the world wide challenge for SynBio. And so he and the freiGEM Team lived happily ever after... See you all at the Jamboree!

Jan Patrick Steitz
I´m a third year student of pharmaceutics, so most of the time I have to deal with chemistry. iGEM gave me a great opportunity to gain experience on the subject of synthetic biology and, of course, it was a lot of fun.

Leo Scheller
I studied molecular medicine in Freiburg and I just moved to Edinburgh for Systems and Synthetic Biology. I hope to integrate Systems and Synthetic Biology into medical research and iGEM has been a great opportunity for gathering practical skills, for being creative, and for getting to know very cool people. Also I'm happy that we have a very promising project and I look forward to our presentation in Amsterdam.

Dennis Grishin
I study molecular medicine and microelectromechanical systems. With this choice of fields of study my goal is to bring life sciences and engineering together. When I heard about iGEM I realized that for me it would be the perfect opportunity to pursue this objective. I am fascinated by synthetic biology and believe in the great potential of biological engineering approaches. freiGEM 2012 gave me the opportunity to take part in an exciting project and to further develop my lab skills. It was a lot of fun and I have very much enjoyed the work in our team.

Verena Waehle
During the time of my bachelor studies in molecular medicine, I learned a lot about the function of cells as well as of whole organisms. Nevertheless, the field of synthetic biology remained something impalpable for me. When I first heard about iGEM, I was intrigued by the concept, that a group of students should plan and realize a whole project in the context of synthetic biology almost on their own. Considering this a challenge and a great opportunity to broaden my horizon by emerging into a research area that differs profoundly from everything I have done before, I joined in on the team. During the whole iGEM year, I was able to learn a lot about almost any aspect of research life, which is what makes the time with freiGEM such an invaluable experience. I really enjoy the opportunity to be part of such a fabulous project and of an even more fabulous team!

Josip Herman
I´m studying molecular medicine and I was curious about iGEM. iGEM gives me the opportunity to get first insights into the emerging field of synthetic biology, which will very likely influence our future lives. During the time as a freiGEM team member I earned a lot of lab experience and enjoyed the time in the team. May the TALs be with you. See you.

David Fuchs
Biology is going synthetic and it's going there fast. It poses many new and exciting frontiers, so joining in on such a high profile competition as iGEM came natural. Working with people from every corner of the life science landscape and beyond was an eye-opening experience. I learned quite a bit about every facet of lab life during my time with freiGEM, which is what makes this whole endeavor so invaluable. Cheers to all.

Human Practice

Pablo Grassi
I will try to make a long story short: I obtained a bachelor´s degree in biology and I´m currently studying philosophy. I joined the freiGEM-team because of just two reasons. On the one hand, since 2010 I organize an interdisciplinary project at the University of Freiburg concerning the concept of life. In this project, I intend to combine theoretical biology and philosophy of biology to encounter the phenomena of the living. On the other hand, I specialized in the fields of synthetic biology and biochemistry during my bachelor studies. Through combination of these two aspects, the iGEM competition revealed itself as an unique chance for exploring arising philosophical questions concerning our understanding of life. I was lucky I had the possibility to be a member of this great team, which lively promoted philosophical reflection and precise thinking.


Dr. Susanne Proksch
I have joined the iGEM team as an advisor to share my research experience with the younger team members. After studying dental medicine, and post doctoral work in Paris, I´m currently doing research on regenerative dentistry at the Clinic for Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of the “Uniklinik Freiburg”. I decided to participate in the iGEM competition due to my enthusiasm, curiosity and passion for the world of science and my tremendous thirst for new knowledge. Furthermore, it is a great experience to get in touch with the initiative, creativity and cleverness of the undergraduate students which is quite impressive. I got to know synthetic biology as a fascinating field of research and I´m really grateful for this superb experience – Chapeau freiGEM 2012!

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