UI Student Team Receives Bronze Medal at Worldwide Competition

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December 7, 2017

A group of UI undergraduate students from many different disciplines across campus recently received a Bronze Medal for competing in the International Genetic Engineering Machine (iGEM) Competition at the annual Jamboree in Boston. iGEM is an international foundation that sponsors the annual worldwide synthetic biology competition for undergraduate students. Each student team strives to solve real-world challenges by building genetically engineered systems using standard, interchangeable parts.

The multidisciplinary group of students from the UI were the first team from the state of Iowa to enter the competition. The UI team’s project focused on the environmentally sustainable and affordable production of industrial bioplastics using microorganisms to produce the platform chemical, 3- hydroxypropionic acid (3-HP). To facilitate this process, the team has constructed a light-emitting device that allows real-time monitoring of 3-HP production and circumvents the need for expensive and time-consuming high-performance liquid chromatography.

The research and fundraising for this project was primarily student-driven with guidance from three faculty advisors: Jan Fassler (Biology), Craig Ellermeier (Microbiology), and Ed Sander (Biomedical Engineering). The Department of Biology also contributed by providing equipment, supplies, and space for the students to work throughout the summer and fall.

Congratulations to these former and current UI undergraduate students: Nicholas McCarty, Paul Taufalele, Mason LaMarche, Shahaed Hasan, Kevin Lin, Alison McCarty, Nina Vanderzanden, Paige Noble, James Cory, Donaldo Lopez Maldonado, Henry Conlan, and Titus Hou. Shahaed Hasan and James Cory were the team’s representatives at the competition. For more information about the UI team’s project, please visit uiowa.edu/igem
Results from the 2017 competition and details about iGEM can be viewed at igem.org