Nevada Undergraduates
Elaine Bersaba
Elaine Abante Bersaba is a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major with a Chemistry minor at the UNR. She aspires to be a pediatrician someday and has a passion to help people. This is her second year in iGEM and last year, she was very honored to experience Team Nevada win a silver award. Currently, she is the president of iGEM Team Nevada 2011 for this year's team. She was also active in fundraising and research last year. She completed her Biochemistry Senior Thesis that involved working with a stress-inducible rd29A promoter. Her family loves to travel and she is privileged to have lived in several countries such as the Philippines, the Sultanate of Oman, Auckland, New Zealand, and also have visited Australia before moving to Reno, Nevada. You may contact her at
Casey Lear
Casey is an intelligent and sociable person with great life ambitions. She is a quick learner and can take criticism well, making changes when necessary. Although she has a lot to learn, for her, science is not only practice but passion, and she is willing to learn all that she can. Other things that she enjoys include: singing, dancing, riding bikes and watching movies. She one day hopes to take her education to pharmacy school and become a licensed pharmacist. You can contact Casey at:
Vadim Gladwill
Vadim is a senior undergraduate student majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology. He was a member of the 2010 Nevada iGEM team, which won a silver medal. Vadim greatly enjoyed his iGEM experience last summer and decided to come back this summer with a greater understanding of molecular biology. Vadim’s main goals are to finish his bachelor’s degree, get accepted into medical school, and become a surgeon. Vadim’s hobbies include: traveling, sports, and spending time with family and friends. You can contact Vadim through email:
Megan Tabor
Megan is working towards a degree in Biotechnology at the University of Nevada Reno. She will graduate in the fall of 2012. This is the first year that she has joined the iGEM team. She is very excited to use her molecular biology skills during this summer’s research. This summer her focus in iGEM is to use Bay Laurel Thioesterase in E. coli to produce medium chained fatty acids. The medium chained fatty acids can be used to produce biodiesel. After graduation Megan plans on achieving a research position in the field of genetic engineering. During her time away from the lab Megan enjoys spending time with her friends and family, and doing outdoor activities with her dog Ebony. You can contact her at
Sahael Hatefi
Sahael is a sophomore pursuing a degree in biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Nevada Reno. When she is not busy with school and homework she enjoys spending time with her friends and family, reading, and eating sushi. Sahael can be contacted through email:
Matthew Bowden
Matt is a Senior working on his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering with an interest in Renewable Energy at University of Nevada Reno. He enjoys automotive, motorcycles, and welding as hobbies. When he can he also enjoys hiking and snowshoeing for exercise. Matt can be contacted through email:
Dru Nelson
Dru is a Senior working on his undergraduate degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. His scientific interests lie in molecular medicine, neurological disorders, and mycology. He is currently in the process of applying for graduate school, with the goal of obtaining a Ph.D in Biochemistry. His career goals lie in molecular medicine research and drug development. Dru is a part of the ADP-glucose-pyrophosphorylase (AGP) knockout/Gibson Assembly sub-group for Nevada's iGEM team. Dru's hobbies include writing music and eating good food. Dru can be contacted at:
Tutku özarpacı
Tutku is our foreign exchange friend from Turkey! She was a great contribution to the Nevada iGEM team.
Ronald Truong
Ronald is a junior at UNR studying biochemistry and molecular biology. He is pursuing a career as a medical doctor although, he is currently unsure of what kind of doctor he wants to be yet. Outside of labs, Ronald is normally busy studying for classes; running AMSA (pre-med club) at UNR; playing the viola with the UNR symphony; or prepping for MCATs. During his very limited free time, Ronald is quite fond of paddling his kayak around Lake Tahoe and reading GQ; Top Gear; and New England Journal of Medicine.
David Koehn
David is a biochemistry and molecular biology major. David is a part of the ADP-glucose-pyrophosphorylase (AGP) knockout/Gibson Assembly sub-group for Nevada's iGEM team. In his free time, David loves to cook with friends and indulge in the beauty of the Western United States. He also likes to rock out on the guitar with Dru Nelson. You can email David at:
Marguerite Christian
Marguerite is a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major at the University of Nevada, Reno; and is currently a Junior. She aspires to do genetic research with CYP450 genes later in her career. She is currently working on the ThiE knockout/GLF knock-in construct for the Cyanobacteria portion of the project. You can contact Marguerite at
Jen Minor
Jen Minor is neuroscience major with chemistry and theater minors. She will be graduating spring 2012. She is currently a Brown belt with black stripe (one belt from black belt) in Ho Kuk Mu Sol (traditional korean martial arts). She grew up on an angus cattle ranch in Dayton, Nevada.
Chris Clifford
Chris Clifford will be a junior biochemistry undergraduate at the University of Nevada Reno. His future plans include applying to medical school in the summer of 2012. In the lab, Chris spends most of his time conducting simple procedures and playing catch up with the rest of the team since he is still learning necessary lab techniques. His other interests include, playing for the UNR Orchestra, volunteering at local clinics and hospitals, being the chapter president of the UNR AMSA club, and getting his hands on basically anything medical related. He also plans on being a member of the Nevada iGEM team for 2012.
Laura Bond
Laura Bond is currently enrolled in the Biotechnology B.S./M.S. program. She initially graduated in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a minor in Animal Science. She worked as a licensed veterinary technician for six years before she decided that she wanted to go back to school to receive higher education. She hopes to work in medical research and development when she graduates in 2012. Recently married, Laura spends most of her free time at home with her husband, Buddy and their two dogs, Missy and Lupe and their cat, Buster. As an avid movie watcher, her favorite way to spend a Friday night is at the movie theater.
Lauren Thomas
Lauren Thomas is a senior with a major in Biochemistry and a minor in Spanish. Besides working in the lab she likes to run with her dog, referee soccer, go camping and eat cookies.
Jovanna Casas
Jovanna is a senior pursuing her degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Outside of lab, she enjoys hiking around Lake Tahoe, spending time with family and friends, kickboxing, and frozen yogurt. She is working on ethanol production using Pyruvate Decarboxylase and Alcohol Dehydrogenase in E.coli. You may contact her at
Matt Clifford
Matt Clifford is an undergraduate junior and majoring is neuroscience at the University of Nevada, Reno. He likes to get involved with school and clubs because he loves learning and interacting with other students. He is an officer of the AMSA club at his school and he also is volunteering at the local hospital in hope of one day getting into medical school. His other hobbies include snowboarding, biking, boating, and just hanging out with friends. He also plans to be part of next years team Nevada for iGEM 2012.
Destiny Raikas
Destiny is majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Nevada, Reno. She is currently unsure of where her degree will take her with options like medical school, research or a masters in biotechnology. She is excited about all the research experience gained through the iGem competition to help with decisions later on. You can contact her at
Sam Dugan
Sam is a Biochemistry Major with a minor in physics. He plays soccer for the University of Nevada and has played since he was old enough to walk. He is a little funky, so he plays music in lab and frequently breaks out his air guitar. He wants to go to medical school and become an orthopedic surgeon so he can rule the world! He likes to joke and he insists on having a good time with lots of laughing. He is working mainly with the E.coli side of the project and the PDC/ADH and trc promoter as well as BTE used in fatty acid production.
Dafne Ordonez
Dafne is a biochemistry major. She enjoys eating cake and watching movies in 3D. This summer in iGEM she assisted Megan Tabor, Lauren Thomas, and Jovanna Casas.
Bryson Wheeler
Bryson is a recent graduate of UNR's Biochemistry & Molecular Biology program, and this is his second year with Nevada's iGEM team. This year, his focus is on media optimization for the co-cultivation of E. coli and cyanobacteria. Bryson's hobbies include rock climbing, programming and unwinding at the end of the day with an episode of MST3K. He can be contacted at
Matthew Hoff - Web designer
Matt Hoff is a senior Mechanical Engineer major at UNR. He works as a fire fighter on the military air base in Reno, NV. He enjoys flying and is currently working on acquiring his pilots license. On what little free time he has he is a cross fit coach.

Nevada Advisors
Dr. Christie Howard
Dr. Howard has been a faculty member at University of Nevada, Reno of 14 years. This is her third time participating in Nevada iGEM and she is always impressed by her students’ motivation and energy. You can contact Dr. Howard at:
Dr. David Shintani
David is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Nevada. His research focus is in the area plant biochemistry and metabolic engineering with an emphasis on rubber biosynthesis in plants. David has participated as a faculty advisor for the Nevada iGEM Team since 2009. He enjoys long walks on the beach and riding on unicorns! He is currently working with the Cyanobacteria group for the 2011 Nevada Team.You can contact David Shintani by e-mail at or by phone at (775)784-4631.
Patricia A Ellison
Dr Patricia Ellison graduated from the University of Sheffield in the UK with a BSc in Microbiology and PhD in Biochemistry. She subsequently worked at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg, Germany, and Washington State University, USA. She is now an Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Nevada, Reno and co-director of the undergraduate program in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Her main areas of expertise are in protein purification and characterization and steady-state and rapid-reaction enzyme kinetics. Even after 11 years in the USA, she still pronounces 'laboratory' and 'capillary' incorrectly. Dr. Ellison's email: