iGem @ Colombia


The Team


Juan David Olarte Plata

Juan David Olarte

Juan (born 20 October 1989 in Villavicencio, Colombia) is a Chemical Engineer and an undergraduate Physics student at Universidad de los Andes. He is very interested in synthetic biology and systems biology, and currently he is investigating the circadian clock of S. Elongatus doing frequency modifications, as the thesis project for Physics. He likes moving around the city by bike, and supporting Millonarios F.C. at "El Campín". Juan loves progressive rock, indie and electronic music.

Olga Pinzón Rodríguez

Olguita Pinzón

Olga is a Physics student at the Universidad de los Andes who wants to work in Cosmology and Nuclear Astrophysics. She got involved with Synthetic Biology through an advanced physics course, and she liked it so much that she decided to join this amaizing iGem team. Although Olga didn't know anything about how to work in a Microbiology Laboratory, she has learned pretty much and she spends some of her free time in the lab.

Thanks to iGem, Olga has known some friends and bacteria, but she's not very good at making jokes!

Gabriel Martínez-Gálvez

The Joy of Clowning Around

Gabriel is last year microbiology undergraduate student with a minor in physics and half way through a double major in biomedical engineering. He is also a gamer to the bone, and a heavy soccer and basketball fan. Since high school he found it fascinating and exciting to think about programming cells into living bio-robots automated to perform specific actions inside the human body. For that matter he found in systems biology and synthetic biology his main motivations for his studies and graduation thesis with the Biophysics Lab at the Universidad de los Andes.

He is very interested in the design of new biological processes through synthetic biology, dendritic cell information integration towards specific immune response coordination in humans as well as molecular psychology for a better understanding of emotions and aging phenomena.

Feel free to follow him on twitter or challenge him in PSN (PSN ID: ksk_89)!

Óscar Ortega

Oscar is a Physics student at the Universidad de los Andes, he likes biophysics and synthetic biology. He joined the Colombia iGEM team as a opportunity to learn a lot of things about molecular biology and synthetic biology. Through this experience he has known new friends and has learnt about teamwork.

Laura Marcela Guzmán Rincón

Laura always gets perfect grades
Laura is an undergraduate student in Mathematics at the Universidad de los Andes. She is a Bachelor in Physics graduated from the same university, and the main area of work is the Information Theory and Theoretical Physics. She finds in IGEM a good opportunity to explore the multiple connections between physics, mathematicas and biology. She also loves computer programming, arts, music and is very happy to know the amazing world of Synthetic Biology.

David Alejandro García Grisales

Deivid Alejandrou Garzcia Grisalues

is pursuing a degree in physics and mathematics as a member of the University of the Andes` class of 2014. David decided to participate in iGEM because he felt it would be an excellent opportunity to understand and manipulate the brick of the life to solve a big spectrum of problems. Outside the lab, David spends his free time playing the piano, reading some philosophy and literature, swimming. David also participates in a wide variety of academic activities such as in the “problem clinic” where he helps other students to solve difficulties in the resolution of problems in physics and being a prefect in a class of nanotechnology. After graduation, he wants to pursue a PhD in theoretical physics or nanotechnology. Check my video profile Here!

David Andrés Ayala-Usma

Red Bull gives you Wings!
David is a senior of Biology and junior of Microbiology that, one day, simply was in the right place to get involved with Synthetic Biology and became part of the team. He likes Molecular cell biology, Geosciences, Astronomy and some other science stuff. Also, he loves reading all kinds of tales and stories for children (like him), eating desserts, looking at the sky, taking pictures, playing at the PC, sleeping a lot, and talking, and talking, and talking... xD

He expects to eventually become a Ph.D. in Cell Biology, Earth Sciences or both, just to go around there talking about his favorite molecules, discovering new exciting things and earning money for that.

He also likes to be in contact with people around the world, and invites people with his same interests to add him on Twitter.

Roberto Carlos Lenis


Roberto is a 19 years old, undergraduate student in Biology and Microbiology at the Andes University. He is fascinated by the regulation systems implied in cellular biology, especially with epigenetic processes and the post-transcriptional regulation systems as the RNA Induced Silencing Complex. Now that he is involved with Synthetic Biology he thinks it is one of the most powerful tools of these era, and he dream to work some day on a synthetic biology mediated response against pathogenic infections as HIV and Malaria. In his experience trough IGEM he is focused on stracting the genes we need out of Vibrio fischeri to create the new biobricks for our project, he also may be a little bit distracted but the fines he payed for that and his work are really helpful.

He got involved with Molecular Biology in the 2002, at the Molecular Biology Estudy Center of the School Gimnacio Campestre in Bogotá [1]. There he worked on different projects including: The development of the Gorgona`s turtle karyotype, the stimulation of bioinsecticide producction by Bacillus thuringiensis by nutrient variations, the searching of new strains of Bacillus thuringiensis in the Colombian Andes, and the characterisation of the genes encoding for natural oxidation in some endemic plants of the Andes region. Now at the Laboratory of Mycology and plant Pathology of the Andes University, under the guidance of Dr. Silvia Restrepo and Dr. Adriana Bernal, he is working on preventing the natural browning of the fruits by silencing the expression of these genes.

Grad students (Also known as the Aging ones!)

Javier Tabima, M. Sc.

Oh noes, the wiki is down!
Javier is a Ph. D. student at the Laboratory of Mycology and Phytopathology and the Group of Computational Biology and Evolution at the Universidad de los Andes. He is a Master of Science and a Bachelor of Science of the Universidad de los Andes where he worked with Molecular phylogenetics and population genetics. His main area of research is Bioinformatics and Molecular Evolution, but he does a little bit of wiki design and tech support once in a while. His role in the group is still unknown, but he does the best to give a little heads up, one or two practical jokes and to draw his lab mates as they work. Additionally, he likes to spend his free time doing slideshows and videos, so lets hope his hobbies are as useful as his bioinformatics knowledge.

A more serious profile Here - Only in Spanish! Sorry!!

Jorge Alejandro López

Jorge López
Jorge Alejandro is a Master student who works at the Laboratory of Mycology and phytopathology (LAMFU) at the Universidad de los Andes. He is a Bachelor of Biological Sciences, graduated at the Universidad de los Andes as well. His master work is about a metabolic reconstruction of Solanum tuberosum while the infection of the pathogen Phytophthora infestans is stablished. His main area of research is Bioinformatics and Plant-Pathogen Interactions. His role in the development of the iGEM project, is help with molecular biology and cheer up the team.

Andrés Felipe Simbaqueba


Andrés Felipe was born in Florencia (and that’s at Colombia, not Italy...) and he is a Chemical Engineer and M.Sc student in Chemical Engineering at Universidad de los Andes. Actually, he has been researching in bioindustrial processes in order to produce biofuels from cellulosic biomass. He knew about iGEM through an advanced course in physics that he took last semester. He thinks that iGEM is a good opportunity to understand biological processes from a more scientific point of view. However, his life is not reduced only to full-time researching... also he spends his little free time going to the cinema, hanging out with some lucky friends, meeting new people and traveling around the whole world.

Mariana Restrepo

Mariana Restrepo

Mariana is a Master student in Biological Sciences at the Laboratory of Mycology and Phytopathology at the Universidad de los Andes. She is a Bachelor in Microbiology and Biological Sciences of the Universidad de los Andes. Her main area of interest is Pathogen-Host Molecular Interactions and Molecular Biology.

Paola Reyes

Our lovely and dearest paito-pet!
Paola is a pretty enthusiastic Master Student at the Laboratory of Mycology and Phytopathology of Universidad de los Andes. She has been working in molecular biology for more than two years now. Her research interest is the molecular interaction between plants and phytopathogenic bacteria. Her role in the iGEM team has been to help undergraduate students on wet lab activities and in diverse areas. She loves drama but she is kind of cool most of the time.

Extensive academic profile [2]

Nathaly Montenegro

The Black Fury!

Nathaly is a M.Sc Biological Sciences (Microbiology) at the Mycology and Phytopathology Laboratory (LAMFU) at the Universidad de los Andes. She is a B. Sc in Microbiology of the Universidad de los Andes, where she worked with plant-pathogen interactions. Her main areas of interest are Phytopathology, Molecular Cell Biology, Systems and Synthetic Biology . She is currently investigating the type six secretion system and effectors of the type three secretion system in Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. manihotis. Extensive academic profile Here

Silvia J. Cañas

Silvia Cañas

Silvia is a M.Sc student in Biological Sciences (Microbiology) at the Biophysics Laboratory and the Mycology and Phytopathology Laboratory (LAMFU) at the Universidad de los Andes. She is a B. Sc in Microbiology and B. Sc in Chemical Engineering of the Universidad de los Andes (Minors in Bioinformatics and Bioengineering), where she worked with Metabolic engineering. Her main areas of interest are Molecular Cell Biology, Systems & Synthetic Biology and also Epigenetics. She is currently investigating the effect of Sigma factors transitivity on persisters generation in Escherichia coli K12 . Some of the approaches she is using are based on Molecular Biology, Systems biology & Epifluorescence Microscopy.

Estefanía Luengas

Estefanía Luengas

I am interested in the geographic referencing and analysis of biological data. I have worked in landscape transformation for a coffee certificate, databases development for social cartography and development and standardization of cartographic databases of administrative data for social processes. Currently, I am working in early stages on climatic modeling of Phytophthora infestans, the causal agent of potato late blight, involving collection to determinate severity curves.

David Botero

The Best ideas ocurs in your sleep!
David is a master student at the Laboratory of Mycology and Phytopathology and the Group of Computational Biology and Evolution at the Universidad de los Andes. He is a Bachelor of Science of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia where he worked in immunogenetics and evolutiionary immunolology. Furthermore, like undergraduate he worked in medicine and physics. His main area of research is Bioinformatics and System Biology. His role in the group is advise the theoretical bases of the project and to get sponsors to support the travel and the project.

Nelson Rojas M

Nelson Rojas

Nelson Rojas is a M. Sc. Student of the Bacterian Community and Comunications group at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. His main interest is Circuits in Quorum Sensing of gram-negative Bacteria.


Silvia Restrepo Restrepo, Ph. D.

Silvia Restrepo, Ph. D.
Dr. Restrepo is the leader and main researcher at the Laboratory of Mycology and Phytopathology of the Universidad de los Andes. Additionally, she is the dean of the Department of Biological Sciences.Her main research topic is phytopathology, and her favorite organism is Phytophthora infestans, of course!.

Website:Lab. Page

Juan Manuel Pedraza, Ph. D.

Juan Manuel Pedraza, Ph. D.

Prof. Pedraza leads the Systems/Synthetic Biology division of the Biophysics Laboratory at Uniandes. His specialty is stochasticity in gene expression, but is getting more and more interested in evolution and the consequences of phenotypic variability.

Catalina Arévalo-Ferro, Ph. D.

Catalina Arevalo-Ferro, Ph. D.

Dr. Arevalo-Ferro is a Professor at The Universidad Nacional de Colombia. She is the group leader of the Bacterian Community and Communications group.

Link: Group Page

Adriana Bernal, Ph. D.

Adriana Bernal, Ph. D.

Dr. Bernal is a Associated Proessor at the Universidad de los Andes, her main research topic is the Plant-Pathogen interactions of Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. manihotis with its main host. She is the co-director of LAMFU with Dr. Silvia Restrepo.

Webpage: LAMFU Webpage

Martha E. Cárdenas, Ph. D.

Martha E. Cárdenas, Ph. D.

Dr. Cardenas is a Research asisstant at LAMFU, and is a professor at the Unversidad de los Andes and the Universidad Militar Nueva Granada. Her research is manly in evolutionary dynamics of P. infestans, in which she obtained her Ph. D. at the Unviersidad de los Andes. Her Role in iGem is to keep the lab from collapsing, and to keep the lab as organized as possible!

Where we come from

Bogota Header.jpg

Bogotá is the main city and capital of Colombia. With at least 7 million inhabitants, its one of the world's largest cities. It is also the academic central of Colombia, and often called the Athens of South America due to the number of Universities and Libraries (106 Institutes of High Education). The Universidad de los Andes and the Universidad Nacional has been ranked in the top 500 Universities in the world.

Colombia is a country that has been stigmatized as a violent and problematic country, but in the last years the level of security of the country has improved significantly, and tourism has been one oh the main incomes due to the beauty and biodiversity (we are listed as having the fourth highest biodiveristy in the world and de first in amphibians and birds) of the country. Highlands, wet tropical forests and deserts are just two of our many landscapes. Diverse cities, town, and people, coasts in two oceans and the presence of the hugest natural forest (The Amazon) gives the country a touch of diversity and multiclimates, making this one of the culturally and naturally most blessed countries in the world.

People in Colombia are amongst the kindest and coolest people in the world. We are hard working, passionate, highly productive and the girls are beautiful.

We hope, with all our wishes, that you can come to Colombia, to understand and to have the experience of enjoying the Athens of South America!

More info in Tourism in Colombia go to this page