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The Team

Our team is comprised by students from the biological sciences, chemical and biomedical engineering, physics, and mathematics departments at the Universidad de Los Andes at Bogotá, Colombia.

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Daniel Giraldo

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Daniel is an undergraduate Chemistry and Chemical Engineering double major senior at Universidad de los Andes. Although he decided to study Chemistry, he has always had an interest for science and is always eager to learn about other fields. He is very interested in learning more about organic chemistry applied to biological systems, which is why iGem is the perfect opportunity for him to explore a little bit into microbiology and synthetic biology. His very passionate about research and working at the lab. Currently he is working in the Ralstonia group at iGem Colombia.

Daniela Olivera


Daniela is an undergraduate student in Chemical engineering and Microbiology at the Universidad de los Andes. She is interested in bioinformatic and biomedical engineering research. Currenly, she is one of the outstanding students in chemical engineering department and there are too many proffesors that wants her in their research groups. She loves to spend her little free time playing with her cat (named Anastasia), working on iGEM with her lucky friends, going to cinema and burning calories in the gym.

David A. Ayala-Usma

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David is an undergraduate senior of Biology and Microbiology that, one day, simply was in the right place to get involved with iGEM and Synthetic Biology. He likes Molecular Cell Biology, Paleoecology, Geosciences, Astronomy, and some other science stuff. Also, he loves reading all kinds of tales and stories for children (like him), eating desserts, looking at the sky, taking pictures, playing at the PC, sleeping a lot, and talking, and talking, and talking... xD

He expects to eventually become a Ph.D. in Cell Biology, Earth Sciences, both or something in between, just to make a life and a living out of his passions, his favorite molecules, and discovering new exciting things. He also likes to be in contact with people around the world, and invites people with his same interests to add him on Twitter or Facebook.

Juanita Lara


Juanita is a biology and physics undergraduate student. She is very passionate about science and unveiling the mechanisms underlying biological systems is what she wants to do in life. For that reason she joined the Biophysics Group at Universidad de Los Andes, and is currently working on the characterization of thermosensors in Bacillus subtilis using molecular biology techniques and biophysical approaches. She sees in iGEM a great opportunity to meet new people and have the chance to learn from them.

Laura Rodriguez


Laura is an undergraduate student in Chemistry and Microbiology at Universidad de los Andes. She is passionate about science, likes organic chemistry and loves bacteria! She is also curious and a realll hard worker. For her, iGEM has been an opportunity to learn, practice lab skills and making good friends! Currently she is working in the Ralstonia group at iGEM Colombia. She is really excited to meet people involved in science from another countries, this will give her a perspective of science outside her country and will also be a cultural enriching experience.

Javier E. Vargas

Javier already finished his thesis for the B.Sc. in Microbiology, but also is currently a senior student of Design at the Universidad de Los Andes. During his Microbiology thesis, he worked with the S-layer protein of Lysinibacillus sphaericus applied to bioremediation of chromium using an immobilization matrix to improve the protein stability. In general, He is interested in molecular biology, synthetic biology, experience design and design of narratives. Also, he practices soft combat, fencing, climbing and enjoys painting (a lot).

iGEM is a great opportunity to apply his knowledge and creative instinct to demonstrate him self their capacities, gaining more lab experience while doing what he likes the most.

David Alejandro García

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David is pursuing a degree in physics and mathematics as a member of the University of the Andes` class of 2014. David decided to participate in iGEM because he felt it would be an excellent opportunity to understand and manipulate the brick of the life to solve a big spectrum of problems. Outside the lab, David spends his free time playing the piano, reading some philosophy and literature, swimming. David also participates in a wide variety of academic activities such as in the “problem clinic” where he helps other students to solve difficulties in the resolution of problems in physics and being a prefect in a class of nanotechnology. After graduation, he wants to pursue a PhD in theoretical physics or nanotechnology

César Augusto Quintana

Cesar was born in Popayan (Cauca), he is a Physics and mathematics undergraduate student at the “Universidad de los Andes”. He began participating in this project because of an enormous interest in life systems founding along this time a crescent fascination about the theme. Beside science he likes a lot to play the acoustic guitar and watch movies.

Luis Alberto Gutiérrez López

Luis is an undergraduate Physics student at the Universidad de los Andes. Since his school years he’s been interested in science, deeply fascinated by the way our Universe works and particularly by the mechanisms of life. His interest in biology led him to explore other fields like physics. This passion for science and knowledge made him a very devoted student which enabled him to be awarded as Best High School Graduate of Colombia in 2011.

Besides his enthusiasm for study, he loves physical activity, especially swimming and jogging. He also enjoys literature.

He decided to join iGEM because he considers it an excellent opportunity to become familiar with research and learn many useful things about molecular biology, mathematics and programming.

Roberto Moran Tovar

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Roberto is a second year undergraduate Physics and Mathematics student at Los Andes University. He loves physics since he was at high school and thinks that the science ( specially physics) is the most amazing thing that could exist. Recently, he has been interested in the study of life, evolution and in general the whole biology. He thinks his best quality is the curiosity because lets him to explore the universe in a very funny way! He is a good soccer player, likes to play video games and likes good Rock&Roll.

Diana Wilches


Diana is a B.Sc in Biology and a last year Microbiology undergraduate student of the Universidad de los Andes. She is highly interested in Environmental Science and Biotechnology, mainly in the development of strategies and alternatives that could allow to reduce the impact of the human being in the world. With this aim, she has worked in biological control of insects, bioremediation and with this iGEM project she wants to help in the development of new alternatives to the use of chemicals products in agriculture. Furthermore, Diana is passionate for traveling, old history, languages and cultural exchange.

Gabriel Martínez-Gálvez


Gabriel is a B.Sc. in microbiology and last year student in biomedical engineering (minor in physics). He is also a gamer to the bone, and a heavy soccer and basketball fan. Since high school he found it fascinating and exciting to think about programming cells into living bio-robots automated to perform specific actions inside the human body. For that matter he found systems biology and synthetic biology to be his main motivations for his studies and graduation thesis with the Biophysics Lab at the Universidad de los Andes.

He is very interested in the design of new biological processes through synthetic biology, dendritic cell information integration towards specific immune response coordination in humans as well as molecular psychology for a better understanding of emotions and aging phenomena. Feel free to follow him on twitter or challenge him in PSN (PSN ID: ksk_89)!

Diana Sanchez


Diana is a design student with emphasis on communication design and textile design. She has high interest in the dialogue between arts and science. Especially in biodesign, perception, interaction design, and art direction. Her projects focus on the boundaries between the biological and the technological and how this changes our perception. She has also worked as a Field Researcher at future trends in the Observatorio de Tendencias de la Cámara de Comercio de Bogotá and Future Concept Lab Milan. She is interested in how science can bring metaphores and processes to design manifestations that allow us to experience the world in a more significant way.

Luz Alba Gallo

Luz is a last year Design student. Her focus is on social innovation and strategy. In the last year she had the opportunity to work on a project named "Let's meet your baby!" that was related with maternal health in low income communities. Also she is an active participant in Design communities such as OpenIdeo and TechoLab. She is interested in the posssiblities that the Design offers to all the other areas of knowledge to improve the life quality and the world.

Grad Students

Silvia J. Cañas

Silvia is a M.Sc student in Biological Sciences (Microbiology) at the Biophysics Laboratory and the Mycology and Phytopathology Laboratory (LAMFU) at the Universidad de los Andes. She is a B. Sc in Microbiology and B. Sc in Chemical Engineering of the Universidad de los Andes (Minors in Bioinformatics and Bioengineering), where she worked with Metabolic engineering. Her main areas of interest are Molecular Cell Biology and Systems & Synthetic Biology. She is currently investigating the effect of Sigma factors transitivity on persisters generation in Escherichia coli K12 . Some of the approaches she is using are based on Molecular Biology, Systems Biology & Epifluorescence Microscopy

Vivian Bernal Galeano

Vivian is a M.Sc student in Biological Sciences at the Laboratory of Mycology and Phytopathology at the Universidad de los Andes. She is a Bachelor in Biology of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. She has worked in the area of molecular phytopathology, in the pathosystem Cassava-Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. manithotis (Xam), for two and half years and currently she has studied the small ncRNA of Xam. Her role in the iGEM Team is to participate in the lab activities and to coordinate, plan and develop, with her teammates, the activities related to the human practices, she enjoys that!!

Paola Reyes

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Paola is a pretty enthusiastic Master Student at the Laboratory of Mycology and Phytopathology of Universidad de los Andes. She has been working in molecular biology for more than two years now. Her research interest is the molecular interaction between plants and phytopathogenic bacteria. Her role in the iGEM team has been to help undergraduate students on wet lab activities and in diverse areas. She loves drama but she is kind of cool most of the time.

Laura Avelleneda Franco

Laura holds a B.Sc in Chemical Engineer, and a B.Sc in Microbiology, both from Universidad de los Andes. She is a second year M.Sc student of Biological Sciences at the Center of Microbiology Research (CIMIC) at the Universidad de los Andes. She is interested in biotechnology from molecular scale to industrial scale. She is excited for new branches of biotechnology such as synthetic and systems biology. She believes that the deciphering of new biological pathways from genes to signal cascades are highly important for the research and development of new products and processes.

Andrés Felipe Simbaqueba Sánchez

Andrés Felipe was born in Florencia (and that’s at Colombia) and he is a Chemical Engineer and M.Sc student in Chemical Engineering at Universidad de los Andes. Actually, he has been researching in bioindustrial processes in order to produce biofuels from cellulosic biomass. He thinks that iGEM is a good opportunity to understand biological processes from a more scientific point of view. However, his life is not reduced only to full-time researching... also he spends his little free time going to the cinema, hanging out with some lucky friends, meeting new people and traveling around the whole world. Feel free to follow him on twitter

Estefanía Luengas

I am interested in the geographic referencing and analysis of biological data. I have worked in landscape transformation for a coffee certificate, databases development for social cartography and development and standardization of cartographic databases of administrative data for social processes. Currently, I am working in early stages on climatic modeling of Phytophthora infestans, the causal agent of potato late blight, involving collection to determinate severity curves.

Juan Enciso

Juan is a M.Sc. student in Biological Sciences at Universidad de los Andes. His interests lie in the fields of bioinformatics and molecular evolution. He's currently searching novel groups of Oomycetes, organisms which include several important animal and plant pathogens such as Phytophthora sp. and Saprolegnia sp., among others.


Silvia Restrepo Restrepo, Ph. D.

Silvia Restrepo, Ph. D.
Dr. Restrepo is the leader and main researcher at the Laboratory of Mycology and Phytopathology of the Universidad de los Andes. Additionally, she is the dean of the Department of Biological Sciences.Her main research topic is phytopathology, and her favorite organism is Phytophthora infestans, of course!.

Website: Lab Page

Juan Manuel Pedraza, Ph. D.

Juan Manuel Pedraza, Ph. D.

Dr. Pedraza leads the Systems/Synthetic Biology division of the Biophysics Laboratory at Uniandes. His specialty is stochasticity in gene expression, but is getting more and more interested in evolution and the consequences of phenotypic variability.

Adriana Bernal, Ph. D.

Adriana Bernal, Ph. D.

Dr. Bernal is a Associated Proessor at the Universidad de los Andes, her main research topic is the Plant-Pathogen interactions of Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. manihotis with its main host. She is the co-director of LAMFU with Dr. Silvia Restrepo.

Webpage: LAMFU Webpage