Student Biographies

Full-Time Students

Chelsea Leishman

I just finished my fourth year of Biological Sciences specializing in Cellular, Molecular and Microbial Biology at the University of Calgary. I have research experience related to the phytoremediation of the oil sands and as such, I hope I will be able to apply some of that knowledge to this project. I have never been involved in iGEM before, but I am very excited to be participating in the wet lab portion of it this year. I am positive that iGEM will be a great opportunity to learn about synthetic biology and to develop my independent research skills. Some of my interests outside of academia include playing competitive soccer, riding my bike and traveling.

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Ellen Widdup

I am entering my fifth year (final semester) of Botany in the department of Biological Sciences. This is my third summer doing research and although I am new to the bacterial world I’m sure that my previous experience in molecular biology will be beneficial. This is my first year with iGEM and I will be involved in the wet lab portion. I am excited to work as part of the iGEM team in a rare interdisciplinary setting. I am very interested in oil sands remediation and hope that we will produce some useful results. My hobbies include playing recreational soccer and hiking with my dog.

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Emily Hicks

This will be my third summer as a member of the University of Calgary’s iGEM team and as always I am super excited for the year. I will predominantly be helping out in the wetlab and marketing aspects of the project this season. I’m most excited about showcasing our project as well as teaching others on the team. I am also very excited about working with a new group of people this year on a subject brand new to me. I know that I will gain a ton of new knowledge this summer and have a chance to hopefully step out of my comfort zone and learn a bit more about modeling and website design. In the fall I will be going into my fourth year of biomedical sciences, and I bring my previous lab experience as well as my theatre experience in public speaking to the team. In my spare time I am involved in theatre in Calgary as well as competitive highland dancing.

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Felix Chung

I'm a third year student in Chemical Engineering with a specialization in Biomedical Engineering. I take an avid interest in both engineering and biology, and I hope to be involved in both wet lab and dry lab aspects of this project. As this is my first year being involved with iGEM, I hope to make an impact by bridging the gap between the computational and wet lab requirements of synthetic biology research. Specific research interests before my involvement in iGEM include stem cell growth, tissue engineering, and chemical process optimization. In my free time, I enjoy playing the violin, tinkering with computers, and riding my bike. I look forward to getting to know everyone in Indianapolis and beyond!

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Niko Hornbruch

I’m in my third year of Electrical Engineering with a specialization in Biomedical Engineering. In the little spare time I have I like to read fantasy books and play rugby. In the past three years my team has won three city championships and two provincial championships. iGEM is the first summer research I am involved in. While I don’t have prior knowledge in biology, I am looking to learn more about it this summer. My job in the team is to develop software applications to support the wet-lab work and to think of possible applications of our bacteria.

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Patrick Wu

I'm currently in my third year in the Bachelor of Health Sciences program (Bioinformatics stream) at the University of Calgary. This is my second year in iGEM and I am very excited to be a part of the team again. I believe that iGEM offers an amazing and rare opportunity for undergrads from multiple disciplines to come together and learn about synthetic biology first-hand. This year I'm working primarily on the drylab components of the project, as well as building this very wiki. I do karate and I dabble in writing, video games, and drawing in my spare time, as well.

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Peter Qi

I am a Bachelor of Health Sciences student, majoring in biomedical sciences, going into my third year of undergraduate studies. I am a “molecular biologist”. Before iGEM, my research interests are in obesity and type II diabetes mellitus. I am super excited to be part of the iGEM project this year. I am working towards finding genetic elements that acts as a specific and sensitive sensor for the environmental toxin, naphthenic acids. In my spare time, I like to play basketball, the clarinet, or watch movies.

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Robert Mayall

Hi, I'm Robert, and I'm in my third year of Biomedical Sciences at the U of C. I've never done any kind of research work before iGEM so I was really excited to have the opportunity to help out with the development of the biosensor this year. The best part of this job is that there's a Timmies (Tim Horton's - a coffee and donut store) on the walk here, so I'm full of energy by the time I get to the lab. The summer will be lots of fun, working with great people and learning a lot about science along the way!

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Saeed Mohammed

I am a third year student at the University of Calgary studying Biomedical Sciences. In Junior High, I memorized the entire Qur'an, and became class Valedictorian in high school. I have an avid interest in both medicine, specifically clinical genetics, and in Islamic Law and hope to pursue both these career paths. This is my first year in iGEM and I will contribute primarily to the wet lab portion of the research, by identifying a suitable reporter for the naphthenic acids biosensor and in helping to create a promoter library using pseudomonas. I hope to gain valuable research experience from working iGEM this summer and to work towards creating a solution to naphthenic toxicity in Alberta's oil sands.

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Stephen Dixon

Hi! I'm a third year student in Software Engineering with a Biomedical Specialization. In high school, I was the silver medallist at the Provincial Debate Championships, and Bronze at Europeans. In my spare time, I am an avid programmer and am working on solving mathematical puzzles at Project Euler. I also judge at debate tournaments, and participate in badminton and swing dancing. I am very excited about iGEM this semester - it promises to be a very mind-expanding activity.

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Part-time Team Members

Jacqueline Smith

Jacqueline completed her first degree in Biology in 2007. After reassessing career goals, she decided to return to full time studies to pursue a Bachelor of Applied Science in Civil Engineering, specializing in “Energy and the Environment”. This fall she will be entering 2nd year of her program. Forever an advocate for environmental awareness and sensitivity, she ultimately hopes to make a significant contribution to minimizing human impact as a byproduct of development. Drawn to iGEM/synthetic biology for its intrinsic fusion of the disciplines of biological science and engineering, she was delighted to discover the potential of this powerful new field to work towards just that.

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Margaret Renaud-Young

I am in the third year of the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology PhD program in the Southern Alberta Cancer Biology Research Group at the University of Calgary. The focus of my studies is the cellular response to obstructed DNA replication, and how disturbances to this process contribute to genome instability using the budding yeast model system. This is the first year that I have worked with iGEM but I am excited to be part of such an enthusiastic group with a fresh approach to biological study.

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David Lloyd

This is my third year being involved in iGEM in which time I have had the opportunity to work with the Alberta team for two years as an undergraduate and now as a team advisor for Calgary. While my Masters focuses on developing new treatments for breast cancer, iGEM and synthetic biology have always been near and dear to my heart. I have many interests including Genetics, Immunology, Cell Biology, Bioinformatics, and Microbiology. In my spare time I can be found playing soccer, volleyball, or squash, as well as playing the piano, listening to music, and video games. In the future, I hope to merge my passions for Biochemistry, Cell Biology, and Synthetic Biology into an exciting career. iGEM has been an amazing opportunity to gain additional skills in a variety of fields and I greatly look forward to another year in the competition!

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