Revision as of 03:13, 8 September 2012 by MChowdhury (Talk | contribs)


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Scott A. Banta:

Scott Banta received his PhD from Rutgers University in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering and he went on to a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Engineering in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is currently an Associate Professor in Chemical Engineering at Columbia University and his research is focused on applied protein and metabolic engineering. His group works on different projects in gene and drug delivery, protein and peptide conformational behavior, biomolecular recognition, biosensors, biocatalysis, bioelectrocatalysis, and bioenergy applications. In his scant spare time he enjoys dominating his fantasy football leagues.

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David Orbach:

David Orbach joined Cooper Union in the summer of 2008 with a BS in Agricultural and Biological Engineering from Cornell University and a MS in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Rochester. Before joining Cooper he also earned an MD, did an intern year, and developed an interest in improving efficiency and patient throughput in the Emergency Room setting. He teaches several biology and biomedical engineering courses, including cell and molecular biology, physiology, and microbiology; helps direct the Kanbar Center for Biomedical Engineering; and serves as the college’s pre-medical advisor. Outside of Cooper, David now helps create iPhone apps and workbooks for children. See

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Dionne Lutz, Laboratory Technician:

Dionne loves working as the technician for the Kanbar Center for Biomedical Engineering at Cooper Union. She enjoys having a biology-centric prospective in an engineering environment. An avid knitter, she also spends her time making cookies and playing Minecraft.

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Sudipta Majumdar, Ph.D. Student:

Sudipta Majumdar is a research scientist at the Columbia University Chemical Engineering Department pursuing his interest of the application of biochemistry for the development of next generation biofuels. Before coming to Columbia he went to Wesleyan University and University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and received his PhD in Chemistry.

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Kevin Dooley, Ph.D. Student:

Kevin is a Ph.D candidate in chemical engineering at Columbia University.

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Jason Candreva, Grad Student:

Jason is a graduate student at Columbia University.


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Adam Cerini:

The organism “Adam cerini” is a species of civil engineering student. The Cooper Union is his natural habitat, although he has been observed to migrate to Huntington, NY during the summer months. He appears to have matured to the “sophomore” level. One marked feature of Cerini is his intelligence, a characteristic shared by many species in the engineering family. This feature is suspected to be the cause of his interests in civil engineering, architecture, biochemistry, nanotechnology, environmental science, and biomimicry. Cerini has been shown to undertake complex projects of various types and levels of success, such as mimicking cuttlefish camouflage with LCD’s, constructing a marimba from PVC pipes, designing a bamboo hut for refugees, building an electronic game via breadboards, composing electronic music, and most recently, genetically modifying bacteria for iGEM.

Marjana Chowdhury:

Despite being from the bustling streets of New York City, Marjana was born to live in the wild. This nature lover and rising sophomore intends to major in Environmental Biology at Columbia University. In the past, Marjana's research has scaled a size spectrum ranging from immense invasive species to minuscule endangered species. As part of the Columbia-Cooper iGEM team, she is excited about her newest and smallest challenge yet, microorganisms.

Sara Chuang:

Sara just finished her third year as a Chemical Engineer at Columbia University. She is interested in pharmaceuticals and protein engineering. IGEM was particularly appealing, because she wanted a chance to pursue a fun application of synthetic biology. Sara also enjoys super hero movies.

Ciera Lowe:

Ciera is a rising junior at The Cooper Union majoring in chemical engineering with a minor in biomedical engineering. She joined the iGEM team because this competition provides an amazing opportunity to gain hands on experience in synthetic biology, an exciting field full of potential to improve the world we live in. In addition to her studies, Ciera keeps busy by playing foosball on Cooper’s newly acquired table, playing basketball with Cooper’s women’s team or organizing events with the engineering student council and Cooper’s National Society of Black Engineers chapter.

Anna Mai:

Anna Mai is a rising junior majoring in chemical engineering at Columbia University, with a minor in environmental engineering. She joined IGEM because it presented an interesting medium for interacting with engineers around the world and providing hands on experience in the highly applicable field of synthetic biology. In her spare time she enjoys playing ultimate Frisbee, building paper crafts, and serenading her neighbors (not well).

Yuta Makita:

Yuta Makita is a rising sophomore studying chemical engineering at the Cooper Union. Yuta joined the iGEM team with an interest in research based study and process of synthetic biology and the microscopic world. In addition to academic studies, he enjoys taking part in orchestra related activities by playing the viola.

Nicholas Mannarino:

Nicholas Mannarino is a rising sophomore at The Cooper Union. He is studying chemical engineering, with a hope to specialize in biomedical engineering and biotechnology. He joined IGEM because it seemed like a great way to spend a summer getting acquainted with a field he is interested in. In his spare time, Nicholas enjoys playing the guitar and long-distance running.

Aakash Mansukhani:

When he’s not obsessively watching American Idol videos or playing tunes on his guitar, Aakash Mansukhani studies chemical engineering at Columbia University. As a rising sophomore, Aakash hopes that participating in IGEM will help him learn more about how principles from chemical engineering and synthetic biology can be combined to program bacteria. In his free time, Aakash loves to sing and reinvent pop songs by putting his own acoustic spin on them.

Steven Neuhaus:

Steven Neuhaus is a rising sophomore who studies chemical engineering at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. He’s quite fond of the idea of using little things to solve big problems, and joined iGEM because it provides a tremendous opportunity to do just that (and also time to play in the lab!). Steven also enjoys pointing out that writing about oneself in the third person is extremely awkward, is interested in most things that are interesting, and if you show him something cool, he’s usually more than glad to run with it.

Kirsten Nicassio:

Kirsten Nicassio just finished her freshman year at The Cooper Union. She is majoring in chemical engineering, with an intended math minor. She joined IGEM because of interest in the field of biomedical engineering. In her spare time, Kirsten enjoys reading, knitting, and swimming.

Udochukwu (Ud) Okorafor:

Ud Okorafor is a rising senior at Columbia University. He is majoring in chemical engineering and has interests in protein engineering and pharmaceuticals. He joined IGEM because he enjoyed the research he had done previously on genetic engineering of E. coli. In his spare time, he enjoys playing various sports, reading science fiction books, and watching movies.

Saimon Sharif:

Saimon is a rising sophomore at The Cooper Union. He is studying Chemical Engineering and intends to minor in Mathematics. He joined IGEM because it gives him the opportunity to apply engineering and creativity to biology. In his spare time, Saimon enjoys listening to alternative rock and watching science fiction television shows.

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Vincent Xu:

Vincent is a rising senior at Columbia University majoring in chemical engineering and minoring in applied mathematics. He is more interested in computational modeling than lab work and has been doing research in the applied math department since the summer of his freshman year. He decided to join IGEM because he thinks that it’s a good chance to learn something about biology, which is a subject he hasn’t studied since high school, and to get involved in any computational or modeling work. In addition to enjoying popular activities that college students engage in, such as eating and sleeping, Vincent does ballroom dancing.

High School Students

Richard Shi:

Richard Shi is a high school research student at Jericho High School. He had previously studied and written a paper based on the Dye Sensitized Solar Cell at Farmingdale University. He joined iGEM to vary his exposure to different sciences (moving from the engineering sciences to synthetic biology) and hopes to collect data for the upcoming Intel STS competition. He hopes to bring much to the table, despite being in high school.