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Biological Sciences

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Best Poster Award at the iGEM North America 2013 Jamboree

This year’s Carnegie Mellon iGEM Team traveled to Toronto to compete in the North American iGEM Team Competition and returned with the Best Poster Award. The poster, titled “Light-Activated Antimicrobial Phage,” was one of 64 presented by teams that attended the Regional Jamboree. Team members Kathy Bates (BME/ChemE 2013), Ben Beltzer (CompBio 2016), Andrew Nadig (Bio2015), Eric Pederson (Bio 2015), and Evan Starkweather (ChemE 2015) tackled the problem of antibiotic resistance with an alternative, phage therapy. The bacteriophage that they designed had a secret weapon, it could be activated by light to kill bacteria. The team was generously supported by MCS and the Department of Biological Sciences, CIT and the Departments of BME, ChemE and ECE, and by the Lane Center for Computational Biology.

As a new year begins, we are now accepting applications for the Carnegie Mellon iGEM 2014 Team. The iGEM Team is a group of undergraduates interested in synthetic biology (see for more information). The team will conceive and complete a project and participate in the International Genetically Engineered Machines Competition at the World Jamboree in Boston from October 30 – November 3, 2014.

There will be info sessions on Wednesday, January 29 and Thursday, January 30 in the UC Dowd Room. Refreshments will be available at 4:30 p.m. followed by a presentation at 5:00 p.m. Applications consist of the student’s resume and a one-page description of why they are interested in iGEM and how they would contribute to the team. These items are to be sent to Dr. Natasa Miskov-Zivanov ( by February 10, 2014.

This is a competition where every project is an invention! The interdisciplinary team will identify a problem and a need, design and build a prototype from standard biological parts (this is Synthetic Biology), and then share their project with the community.  The core values of effort, accomplishment, respect, cooperation and especially scientific integrity and truth are promoted and achievements are celebrated at the World Jamboree.

The project of interest is designed, planned and managed by the team members with advisors serving to provide guidance. In the lab, the parts are cloned, combined, tested, documented and submitted to the Registry. Models of the system or device are developed and validated with lab results. Human Practices are designed to communicate the synthetic biology project. Skills are developed for communication of projects using wikis, posters and oral presentations.

This is a great opportunity to work with an interdisciplinary team, receive a stipend and academic credit, and participate in the World Jamboree!

(Pictured above: Left to Right, advisors Natasa Miskov-Zivanov and Cheryl Telmer, and team members Evan Starkweather, Eric Pederson, Ben Beltzer, Kathy Bates and Andrew Nadig. Advisors Diana Marculescu and Marcel Bruchez are absent)