center for systems

& synthetic biology

an NIGMS national systems biology center


iGEM team focuses on feeding a growing population

June 21, 2013

After two weeks of “bootcamp” and brainstorming, the 2013 UCSF iGEM team is focusing their research efforts on a synthetic biology project that will help improve the world’s food supply – specifically, crop yields.

The team presented their proposals to an audience of graduate students and postdocs on Friday, June 21st, for feedback to further refine their ideas. This year’s team is made up of 10 students ranging from recent high school graduates to college seniors. This is the seventh year UCSF has sponsored a team, and the team has been supported and mentored by the UCSF Center for Systems and Synthetic Biology since 2010. The iGEM competition is the premier undergraduate competition in synthetic biology. In 2012, the UCSF team brought home a gold medal for an example of synthetic bacterial symbiosis, i.e., synthesizing two strains of bacteria that could work together to make a product, thus lessening the metabolic burden on each one.

The team practicing their presentations ahead of time.

Education Coordinator Veronica Zepeda introduces the iGEM team.

The 2013 team waits for their turn to present their project ideas to the audience.

Priyanka Dadlani introduces some of the modeling ideas to support the projects.

Erik Wong and Derrick Lee present ideas for developing a vaccine against crop viruses.

Felicity Jika presents a project idea to engineer E. coli to provide nutrients for plants.

Graduate student Justin Farlow and postdoctoral fellow Jesse Zalatan listening to the team pitch their ideas.