Carnegie Mellon University

Image of CMU-Q students

December 13, 2017

Student Team Creates Test To Lessen Environmental Impact of Offshore Oil Extraction

By Angela Ford

Angela Ford
  • Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar
  • +974 4454-8665

A team of students at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar was awarded the Bronze Achievement Award at the International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) competition hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston. This is the first time CMU-Q has fielded a team at the annual iGEM competition, which included 310 teams from 44 countries.

The team developed an easy, quick way for the oil industry to test for biofilm build-up in offshore pipelines. A rapid and reliable test could help the oil industry reduce its use of biocides, which would lessen the negative impact on the marine ecosystem.

"This project is exciting because it has a practical application that can make a big impact on the health of the ecosystem in the waters around Qatar," said Annette Vincent, assistant teaching professor of biological sciences and the team's faculty adviser. Vincent said the next step is to develop a strain of harmless bacteria that would replace the biocide altogether.

The interdisciplinary student team includes Yasmin Abdelaal, Albandari Al-Khater, Dina Nayel Al Tarawneh, Najlaa Al-Thani, Aisha Fakhroo, Al-Reem Johar, Saad Rasool, Kawthar Alsadat Jafarian and Fatema Abdul Salik. The team received additional coaching by Cheryl Telmer, a research biologist at Carnegie Mellon's Pittsburgh campus.

The team will present the project at the Qatar Foundation Annual Research Conference in 2018.

The International Genetically Engineered Machine Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to education and competition, the advancement of synthetic biology, and the development of an open community and collaboration.