Team photo large.png
Our team is composed of 7 students from Lincoln High School, 3 first year students from SF City College and 1 undergraduate from Peking University.


UCSF 2010 Students Gallery
Images Courtesy of June Park

Carmen Zhou

My name is Carmen Zhou and I will soon be entering UCSD as a freshman molecular biology major. The seeding of my interest in biotechnology began when I first observed my transformed plate of fluorescing bacteria under a black light. A silly seed, I know, but having been able to see an actual result of one of my experiments first hand was something quite thrilling. This single seed grew as my knowledge of the causes and effects of diseases expanded, which made biology seem more dynamic, disgusting, and like it was begging to be changed. I guess that is where I stand today-on an open field full of possibilities to reverse such diseases. And that is where iGEM comes in. Although I initially joined iGEM as a means to get to learn more about the techniques bioengineers use and to just get an idea of how research is conducted, I was pleased to find out that my iGEM experience was going to be one of those possibilities in the open field. The combination of health, cancer killing, new techniques, and silly mentors just surpassed my expectations and made this summer unforgettable. I can now see myself zooming through lab work with confidence and even landing a research position as an undergraduate!

Lianna Fung

I just recently graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School and am now attending UCSD. I have always been interested in science and the limitless possibilities it can yield. Biotechnology in particular caught my interest after taking a course on it in high school. It fascinated me that we had reached a point where we could modify and improve upon the biology of organisms for specific purposes. This fascination caused me to seek out more opportunities to learn and improve my experience in the field. This led me to my desire to participate in iGEM. iGEM seemed a perfect combination of what I wanted and more. It was a chance to work with others as a team in a welcoming environment. It also gave me the chance to learn new skills that I would normally not be exposed to until further down in my education. My iGEM experience was interesting. It could be tiring and frustrating at times, but it was also very fun and rewarding. iGEM also creates a sort of independence in people that isn’t as easy to find in the classroom. Overall, the iGEM experience was wonderful and well worth the long hours spent on it. As a bonus, I got to meet some very interesting people as well and make some good friends too.

Connor Grant

My name is Connor Grant and I just graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School and will be a freshman at UCSD next year. I almost didn't join iGEM because it conflicted with soccer, but in the end I decided (with some encouragement from my biotech teacher) to spend the summer in the lab at UCSF. iGEM was a great way to learn lab techniques that are used very often in company and University research all over the world. It was good to get experience working in a lab and interacting with post docs and PHD students. It was a good experience over all and I'm glad I did it.

Hannah Yan

I recently graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School of San Francisco and am attending Barnard College. For me, iGEM was a chance for me to see if I wanted get into the field of science and to do something awesome during the summer. It really has been a great experience, with its ups and downs. Despite all the failures I have encountered while doing my cloning and minipreps, the ecstatic feeling I get when something worked made everything worthwhile. During iGEM, I was able to use the skills I had learned in biotechnology class and I learned a few new ones as well. I think my experience at iGEM will help me a lot when I decide to pursue the field of science in the future. My summer has been extremely academic, but being able to work with friends and on such a great project has been a lot of fun.

John Elam

Hey, I'm John Elam from this year's UCSF iGEM team. I was born and raised in San Francisco and am currently attending UC Davis, majoring in molecular biology and biochemistry. I joined iGEM because I knew it would be a great chance to actually do some real lab work before college, and also because I really liked the basic idea for the project that got pitched to us in May. As of right now a four year degree from Davis is all that I am certain about; as for medical school or graduate school, I'd certainly like to go but you never know what will happen in the future. I played football for three years in high school but currently have no plans to play in college. I'm looking forward to presenting at the Jamboree and hope to learn a lot while I'm there.

Crystal Liu

Hello! I'm Crystal Liu, and I am currently an undergraduate at UC Davis majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. I first heard about the UCSF iGEM team as a freshman in high school, and decided that it was an experience I really wanted to be a part of at the end of my senior year. Four years later, I made it onto the team! I definitely had one of the best summers of my life. Working in a lab really opened my eyes to the world of research and helped me understand firsthand why progress and results aren't immediate. In addition to labwork, I am extremely grateful to have met all the amazing people from the Lim Lab & CPL, as well as everyone else who contributed their impressive skills and knowledge to the 2010 UCSF iGEM team. :) On a side note, I love expensive chocolate.

Sam Zorn

Although am still a senior at Abraham Lincoln High School, I am an active participant on the iGEM team. Lab work has been my passion for the last few years of my life. When I was picked for the iGEM team, I was ecstatic. Since that day I have been committed to working as hard as I could to make our project successful. iGEM has given me a real world career experience that has helped me decide on my academic path. The field of synthetic biology has appealed to me greatly, and this summer that I spent at iGEM has more than fulfilled my expectations. I hope that my summer here will not only help me get into college, but also help kick start my career as a bench researcher.
When i'm neither working in the labs nor at school, I enjoy getting out and being active. My favorite sports are soccer, and parkour, although I also like to run track, swim, and spar in various martial arts.

International Student

Min Lin

I'm Min Lin from China; I just got my Bachelor degree in Biological Science from Peking University. This is my second year in iGEM; I'm also in Peking University iGEM 2009 team. I think I've learned a lot in iGEM, and the knowledge will be really useful to me in the future. I like our project this year, because I feel that medicine is a very promising field for synthetic biology applications, although we are still at very first steps. I've been enjoying the nice environment and weather in San Francisco during the summer. And it is really an unforgettable experience to work in iGEM in the Cell Propulsion Lab.

Super Buddies

Ryan Liang

This is my second year of iGEM and I must say that I am excited to do this for a second round! I am a student in City College of San Francisco with an intent on transferring to UC Davis. Early on I had a passion for the arts and pursued it up until high school where I was introduced to biotechnology and science as an industry. This is when I realized that science is more than just reading and memorization - it is life and the most basic fundamentals of each and every one of us. iGEM allowed me to bring forth my passion for creativity in correlation with synthetic biology. iGEM has encapsulated synthetic biology into such a fun and innovative experience that getting the opportunity to participate once again is truly a blessing.

Ethan Chan

IGEM has always been such a great opportunity for all the teams to come up with project ideas are that out of the ordinary. The idea of developing a project that has never been done before is the most exciting part for me. I believe that the work done by iGEM teams have impacted the field so much that it will only get better. I am currently working towards attaining a Biotechnology degree at City College of San Francisco. I am hoping to transfer to UC Davis afterwards. After finding out UCSF's project for the 2010 year, I knew I wanted to come back. Throughout this summer, I have learned to work with mammalian cells. Before the iGEM experience, I was only familiar with prokaryotic cells. iGEM has expanded my skills and knowledge in so many ways. All the skills that i have learned will definitely help me in the future. With all these great pharmaceuticals that are being produced, the field of synthetic biology have proven its effectiveness and its future applications. I am looking forward to being a part of this field in the near future.

Eric Wong

Good Afternoon, my name is Eric Wong and i am a graduate of Abraham Lincoln High School class of 2009. I am current pursuing my education in CCSF hoping to transfer into the UC system with the intended major of Molecular Cell Development. I was apart of the iGem team last year and in the time span of 4 months i have learned so many various things from running Assays, Cloning, Troubleshooting and analyzing Experiments and Data. I enjoyed the experience so much so that i decided to come back this year as a mentor for this year's team. I view this and last years iGem experience as something more than just a competition, I has given me the necessary education experience to prepare me for this field of study and allow me to learn about different project from various teams.

UCSF iGEM Program

Raquel Gomes

I run the UCSF iGEM program for the last three years. I really enjoy designing all the educational components of the Program but especially the 2-week bootcamp. I love teaching and having the iGEM students around all summer. I will miss all their craziness.


James Onuffer

This is my second year of involvement and the second year the Cell Propulsion Lab has hosted the team. It was quite an experience to set up the program this year, especially since this is a subject area that we had not begun working on in the Cell Propulsion Lab. The immune response to cancer is a challenging topic to take on (especially coupled with synthetic biology) and required an intensive two week bootcamp to teach the students basic concepts and endogenous systems/parts that they should be aware of. We challenged the students to come up with designs for synthetic cytotoxicity logic gates and increasing the cytotoxic response. It was quite rewarding to see them propose various devices during their team challenge and to see them take charge of getting them prioritized, made , and tested. Things did not always go smoothly, after all this goes with the territory. They had to learn to be organized, think on their feet, and be problem solvers.......quite a growth opportunity that I’m sure will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Wendell Lim

I have had a lab at UCSF for 15 years. The most rewarding thing is working with bright, open-minded young scientists and seeing them develop. Its great to see that most of the iGEM kids that we have worked with have continued to be excited about science and synthetic biology.


Jason Park

I am a 5th year MD/PhD student in the UCSF School of Medicine and the UCSF / UC Berkeley Joint Graduate Group in Bioengineering. I'm originally from the Los Angeles area and went to college at MIT. I've been in the Cell Propulsion Lab for about two years and I am co-advised by Dr. Wendell Lim and Dr. Bruce Conklin. I became a buddy for iGEM because I thought it would be fun working with bright, motivated high school and undergraduate students for the summer and I knew I would get good experience learning to be a better mentor. (Also, I had been interested in participating in iGEM as an undergraduate at MIT but never ended up doing it!) The best thing about being part of iGEM this summer has been working with and teaching students - together going through the learning process of doing lab research with all of its ups and downs.

Chia-Yung Wu

I am a transplant from MIT, where I participated in iGEM as a graduate advisor for the MIT team in 2008 and 2009. This summer, I joined the Lim/Cell Propulsion labs as a postdoc. It has been a great pleasure working with the UCSF team.

Russell Gordley

I majored in Biochemistry at Swarthmore College, and performed my graduate studies with Carlos Barbas at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA. I am interested in using synthetic biology to understand and enhance the evolvability of biological systems.

After my freshman year in college, I took a summer internship with Jim Stivers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The practice of research turned out to be far more complex and interesting than I could have imagined--an intellectual marathon whose path is revealed with each new data set and disproven hypothesis. I am happy to participate in a program that immerses high school students in the research process. For anyone interested in a life of science, this is a great time to join the pursuit!

Jesse Zalatan

I got started in science research with a summer internship after my junior year in high school and I was hooked! I majored in Biochemical Sciences at Harvard and went on to get my Ph.D. in Chemistry at Stanford, where I studied how enzymes speed up chemical reactions that are otherwise incredibly slow. My current research at UCSF is focused on cell signaling, where enzymes play an important role. I am trying to understand how signaling enzymes maintain specificity for the correct targets and avoid signaling mixups. Being introduced to science research in high school inspired me to pursue science in college and beyond, and I got involved with the iGEM team to help share that experience with new students.

Wilson Wong

My name is Wilson Wong and I am a postdoc at Wendell Lim's lab. I got my undergraduate degree in chemical engineering at UC Berkeley and graduate degree in chemical engineering at UCLA. I am currently working on applying synthetic biology to rewire human T-cell receptor signaling dynamics. I am interested in helping iGEM because I have always enjoy teaching and mentoring. My iGEM experience has been great. I am very happy with the progress they've made so far and I have a wonderful time working with them.

Krista McNally

I am an Associate Specialist at UCSF and handle the Tissue Culture needs for the Cell Propulsion Laboratory. Before coming to UCSF, I was a Research Associate at a Medical Device company performing immunohistochemisty, histology, and thermal imaging. This is the first time I’ve encountered the iGEM program, and it was a great experience to see these young people work so hard as a team to accomplish a meaningful project. During the course of the summer, I gave a lecture to the Team on Tissue Culture and relevant Biosafety concerns, trained some of the students individually to do tissue culture work, and assisted with their use of the Flow Cytometer. I was really impressed with their commitment and diligence during the summer, and enjoyed having so many upbeat and energetic people in the lab.

Silinda Neou

I majored in Biochemistry from Cal State East Bay and now work at UCSF in the Cell Propulsion Lab. I love scientific research and have been chasing a career in research ever since my first internship at a microbiology lab. This summer I got the pleasure of interacting with the iGEM students and watching their overall scientific development. They are a great bunch of kids.

Jared Toettcher

Stacy Fang

Samantha Liang

I’m currently a second-year graduate student at UCSF in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Program, where I am a member of Zev Gartner’s lab. My research involves using chemical techniques to make protein therapeutics more specific and effective. During my undergrad, I majored in Bioengineering at UC Berkeley and worked in Chris Anderson’s lab for 3 years. At Berkeley, I was on the iGEM team in 2006 and loved it so much that I joined again in 2007. I think that iGEM is a unique opportunity for students to conduct research in a fun team context, and also gives them to skills to perform research independently in the future. Because of this, I wanted to stay involved in iGEM during grad school, and that’s why I’m a buddy for the awesome UCSF team this year!


Special thanks to the following instructors for the seminars you provided during our bootcamp!

Derek Wong

Taunton Lab

Dan Hostetter

Craik Lab

David Pincus

El-Samad Lab

Reid Williams

Lim Lab