Team:Virginia Tech/Team


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Who We Are

The Team

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Mark Stewart is a computer science and biochemistry student at the University of Maryland. He is interested in software development, particularly with respect to application tools for the research sciences and social media. His other interests include data visualization, scientific futurism, skeptical inquiry, and kittens. D'aw, kittens. He will graduate in 2012 and be pursuing a career in software development.
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Mandy Hagen is a rising junior at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is studying bioengineering with a concentration in drug discovery and delivery. During the school year she works in the Neuromuscular Bioengineering Lab as a researcher and at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center as a bartender. She is the Recruitment Chair for the Society of Bioengineers and an active member of Alpha Omega Epsilon, the engineering sorority. She participates as a Engineering School Ambassador and as a Honors College Ambassador in her spare time, of which she admittedly has very little. When not studying or engaged in academic activities, she plays club field hockey and enjoys napping. Following graduation she will either attend graduate school for biomedical engineering, pursue a career in professional engineering, or earn an MBA and go into industry. She'll be sure to let you know once she figures it out. Cheers.
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Adam Grose is a student at Bluefield State College in Bluefield, WV and is a Biology major. His aspiration is to attend graduate school in the medical field, possibly studying medicine. His academic interests include microbiology and physiology; he is an automotive enthusiast, enjoys spending time with his family, and likes taking his dog, Cody, for a swim. This is his first research experience, and he has found it to be very rewarding to bridge academia with practicum. He is thankful to be a part of of the iGEM team at Virginia Tech.
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Swetha Pasala is a Biology and Premedical studies student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is interested in biomedical research, particularly in the fields of pharmacology and signal transduction pathways. She is also interested in international affairs and diplomacy. She will graduate in 2014 and will, hopefully, be attending medical school thereafter.
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Brittany Nicole Harwell

like: Brittany Murphy and Brittany Snow NOT like: Britney Spears
Meaning(s): (1) a region in France. (2) derived from 'Britannia' a 2nd century Roman goddess. Appears on British coinage (source:

interests/hobbies: knitting, baking, playing Angry Birds, hiking, hot air ballooning, storm chasing, long walks on the beach, levitating.

I also enjoy playing field hockey and ping pong. I played field hockey for about 10 years up until college. I still play ping pong, but now everyone always steals my ping pong balls.

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Judith Eeckman is a french engineering student at the Grenoble Institute of Technology, Ensimag, where she studies maths and computer science. The main subjects of her academic curriculum are statistics and numerical optimization. She is interested in computer simulation of physical systems. Next year, she will go to the University of Lausanne ( Switzerland ), to enhance her knowledge in this area.
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Meghan Savage is a rising junior at Virginia Tech. She is working towards her degree in Biology with a possible Microbiology and Immunology concentration. Following her graduation in 2013, Meghan is considering pursuing a career in medicine and plans on attending medical school . Her other interests include nutrition, biomedical research, and physical therapy. Apart from her academic endeavors, Meghan enjoys running and camping.
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Hayley Schaefer is a biotechnology and pre-pharmacy student at James Madison University. She's interested in biomedical research, drug development, and genetic engineering. She currently is doing dengue virus surface protein undergraduate research at JMU. She as an interest in Japanese language and culture and has studied abroad at Keio University in Tokyo. She will be graduating in 2012 and hopes to possibly continuing her education and maybe work in developing new biopharmaceuticals in the future.
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Loran Steinberger is currently studying to complete her B.S. in Honors in Biochemistry at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. She is interested in the health field applications of stem cell research, genetic engineering, and drug research. She also currently enjoys reading Nietzsche, playing Shadow of the Colossus, and feeding ducks in her spare time. She expects to graduate in 2013, and to continue her education roughly along the lines of how humans function at a molecular level.
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Daniel Thorpe is a rising senior studying biology and math at The College of William & Mary. He is interested in synthetic biology, self-organizing systems, and any efforts to leverage the elegance and power of natural systems to improve human engineering and design. His other interests include rock climbing, meditating, exploring the intersection of science and art, and reading The Onion. After he graduates in 2012, he plans to attend graduate school to study synthetic biology.

The Advisors

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Laura Adam is a PhD student in Genetic, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at Virginia Tech. Previously, she earned a master degree in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics in the french engineering school ENSIMAG. At present, she works on GenoCAD; her research, supervised by Dr. Jean Peccoud, focuses on using computational linguistics to design synthetic constructs. She also advised the 2010 VT-ENSIMAG iGEM team who worked on GenoTHREAT, a biosecurity software.

Website: Contact:

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Julie Marchand received her Master degree in Cellular and Molecular biology from Laval University in Quebec city, Canada. Her dissertation consisted of studying how the various molecular structures of the small heat shock protein 27 (Hsp27) affect its cellular functions and localization. In 2008 she joined the Synthetic Biology Group at VBI where she focuses on designing and fabricating molecules as well as genetically modified microorganisms used for live cell imaging or the validation of in Silico simulations.
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David Ball received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Tennessee Space Institute in 2006. His dissertation work focused on the development of hardware to improve the throughput of Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy (FCS) to be used for determination of binding efficiency in drug discovery assays. Through the course of his graduate work, Dr. Ball was involved in the design and construction of custom optical systems for the detection of single fluorescent molecules, as well as the characterization of photon detectors.

In 2007, David joined the Synthetic Biology group at VBI as a Postdoctoral Research Associate, and later became a Senior Research Associate under the supervision of Jean Peccoud. Here, he has developed image processing algorithms for analyzing time-lapse microscopy movies, in order to extract gene expression data on single cells in vivo using fluorescent protein fusions. This work has been used in collaboration with John Tyson to explore protein expression in the yeast cell cycle. Currently, Dr. Ball is improving this software to allow for real-time image processing, in order to adaptively control microscope acquisition.

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Dr. Martha Eborall earned her Ph.D. at Virginia Tech. She is currently a Professor of Biology at Bluefield State College, teaching a diversity of classes including Microbiology. While participating in a RET at Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, she worked with Virginia Tech’s 2007 iGEM team. Last year she served as a faculty advisor for the Virginia United iGEM team. She has returned this year to advise the 2011 Virginia Tech team. Her iGEM experiences have been very rewarding.
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Dr. Jean Peccoud is an expert in computational synthetic biology. His current scientific interests include the development of linguistic models of DNA sequences, the optimization of DNA fabrication processes, and the development of new instruments to measure the dynamics of gene networks in live cells. Dr Peccoud's group is leading the development of GenoCAD, an open source web-based application to design synthetic DNA molecules from libraries of standard genetic parts. In the 1990s, Dr Peccoud pioneered the development of stochastic models of genetic networks.

Dr Peccoud joined the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech in 2006 as Associate Professor. Prior to joining VBI, he was responsible for a research program at Du Pont focused on gene and regulatory network discovery, the design of DNA transformation vectors, and the development of methods to analyze the genetic properties of gene networks. Dr Peccoud has been a visiting professor in the department of electrical engineering at the University of Washington, a visiting scholar with Wolfram Research, and the recipient of a NATO Fellowship. He serves as Academic Editor of PLoS ONE.