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iGEM Panama

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Members of Panama Team




Complete name: Natasha Natalia Gómez Pérez

Age: 19 years

Career: Biology degree.

Specialization area: Zoology

Institution: University of Panama.


Hobbies: read books, papers, write about general things that happened in life and that pass through my mind, play guitar, sing, play tennis, spend time with my family and messing around with friends and finally, one of the most important things for me, be absorbed in my own thoughts.

iGEM expectations: This is a great step for doing something for the humanity. The entire world could change for good thanks to the synthetic biology. The power is in our hands, let`s do better things for the future.

Research interests: I am extremely interested in conducting research in order to contribute to the knowledge and development of humanity in the scientific field. Since I was a child, my passion has been to study animal behavior. However, since I joined to study biology, the ecology and the environmental biology has been very important to me primarily because we are living a crucial moment for the world as global warming. Now I see more clearly that the synthetic biology is a good new increasing field to combat this and one good example is what we are doing in our project with rhamnolipids. I have many questions, there are now many aspects of biology that I like to investigate. I am looking for many answers. To go deeper and deeper into the wonderful world of the study of life, I reaffirm the maxim of Socrates, "I only know that I know nothing", and that gives me more thirsty of wanting to know.



Name: Ernesto Bolivar Gómez Pérez

Age: 24

Degree: Microbiology Undergraduate student

Institution: Universidad de Panama, Smithsonian Tropical Reasearch Institute intern


Hobbies: Think, learn about life, fungus growing ants biology, read about phylosophy, history, science and sci-fi, listen music (playing guitar, drums, sing, specially rock music), write, I like to hear and talk with my parents and old people, I love to work in the lab and outdoor lab, sleep is the greatest pleasure, pursue of happiness.

The iGEM Experience: One of the best scientific experiences that I have had. I feel that I am part of something huge in terms of scientific development. I am learning a lot from the instructors, advisors and my colleagues in the lab in respect to biotechnology. As a biology student I am trying to understand life through evolution and how life works in its multiple forms. With the iGEM experience I am starting to see life with another perspective under the umbrella of synthetic biology, that is trying to figure out how to design and modify biological systems into a standard way. Richard Feynman said ‘What I can not create, I do not understand.’ this became one of the slogans for us, as biological engineering. Now I have a better way to understand life with the synergy between Biology and engineering. The iGEM program made me a pioneer in this new scientific discipline in my country and I really want to keep working in this field.

Research Interests: Life understanding through evolution is my passion. I am an undergraduate student in Biology oriented in microbiology. I have been working these years with the biology of the fungus growing ants as intern in the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. In the department of behavior and evolution I started my travel into scientific research, studying how ants interact with microorganisms, how ants work against diseases, evolution of profilactic behaviors in the fungus growing ants. Simbiosis, antagonism, co-evolution, bacterias, fungus, antibiotics, ecology are terms with which I have been familiarized. The development of engineered biology became one of my interests when I was studying microbial genetics, the manipulation of DNA brings to us a full knowledge of how life works and I am really interested to be involved in this kind of investigations. Now with iGEM, the Synthetic Biology appears to me as one step further of biological engineering and I am doing a complete diving in biotechnological techniques with the aim to learn how to design and modify biological systems. I will continue studying and working in this field because it leads us to the full application of biology as a substance.


Name: Nicole M. Tayler S.

Age: 25

Degree: Biotechnology

Institution: INDICASAT


Hobbies: I really don't think of myself as a person that has or cultivates "hobbies" at this point in my life since all of my time is shared between my thesis project (almost done! Yeay for me!) and the iGEM venture. This keeps me in the lab A LOT but I enjoy it very much. A few of the things that I do to blow off steam is sing (not only in the shower) because it helps me concentrate and make an otherwise bad day into a less stressful one. I absolutely enjoy the times when my best friend and I go out to have nice meals, as my grandmother used to say "Eating is the only thing that we bring with us when we go back to mother earth." A little hippie, I know. Finally, hanging out with my friends from the lab is one the things that I very much enjoy. When we are all together, we have a really hard time keeping a straight face. That's good.

The iGEM Experience: When I first learned about this, I had no idea what it was all about. Once it was all clear, let's get to work. All of the work done at the lab has all been worth it in order to come up with something that would help the world in some way, something that would further solidify Panama's position on the world map of research; a position that has been and continues to be nurtured by the best. I hope that everyone enjoys learning about our rhamnolipid project as much as we have enjoyed concieving and producing it.

Research Interests: Sometimes I feel that I should know by now what is it that I want to invest the rest of my life doing, but being in biotechnology has taught me so much in so many areas that sometimes it's hard for me to make up my mind! I've always wanted to know what makes things tick (bacterias, viruses, parasites, etc.), with a little bit of that knowledge, I can try to find better ways for them to tick or, stop them from ticking (only if it's a bad tick). For my immediate future, I'm very interested in pursuing a doctorate degree in Pharmaceutical biotechnology.



Name: Laura Maria Pineda Rodriguez

Age: 30

Degree: Environmental Biology

Institution: INDICASAT

Hobbies: I like very much to read and ride bicycles and clear my mind from time to time. I like to bake cakes that I feed to my friends and co-workers. That makes me and them very happy.

The iGEM Experience: At first I was worried that I couldn't make it into the team, but once I started I realized that there was a lot I didn't know about synthetic biology, much less to have it so close, I understood that there is so much that can be done in that field and it has been a great learning experience.

Research Interests: I'd llove to have the opportunity to work with marine ecosystems, specially with coral reefs or whales. I love to dive and snorkel, I believe that the ocean is greatly diverse and it is impressive. Earth also has a great diversity but, the depth of the ocean is something so marvelous with all of the creatures and it is a shame that we cannot study it so easily.

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Name: Lorena Michelle Coronado Vásquez

Age: 24

Career: Biotechnology

Institution: INDICASAT


Hobbies: I spend most of my time at the lab, my co-workers are all very good friends so we have a very good time, but on my free time I love to go to the movies or watch a movie at home. For me, that is the most relaxing thing there is! I love to spend time with my boyfriend, to travel and know new places. Even though I'm not a great cook, I love food! Every outing is complemented with a good meal.

The iGEM experience: Everything has been learning. From learning how to organize ourselves, to the procedures that we have done in the lab. We have learned from each other, from our own mistakes and how to fix them. It has been an intense job, how to juggle our daily work, english courses, personal life and iGEM has been tough but not impossible. In the end, all of it has been worth it. I hope that everything that we have learned helps the next teams that participate in representation of Panama.

Research Interests: I'm a Biotecnologist therefore, my main interest is Molecular Biology. I'm currently working in the area of Parasitology and I hope to continue learning about that field and continue in Biomedical research.



Age: 23

Career: Biology

Specialization: Microbiology and parasitology

Institution: INDICASAT, Universidad de Panamá

Hobbies: I am movie-lover, I like all types of movies with the exception of horror films. I like to read, to stay healthy by doing excercise. But what I like most of all is to travel.

The iGEM Expectations: It has been a new experience where I have learned a lot and we've worked very much; staying at the lab until late running the experiments. We would like to win very much so we can prove to the panamanian people that there are a lot of young people in Panama with the entreprenurial spirit.

Research Interests:


Name: Yaraví Suárez

Age: 24

Institution: University of Panama / INDICASAT-AIP

Career: Undergraduate student in biology with specialization in Microbiology and Parasitology

Hobbies: I love watching movies!!!, read, take pictures, travel Panama (my goal to know from start to finish), music…makes me happy :), playing with my cats, cooking for my family and friends ... as well as spending time with them.

IGEM experience: to show that people from different areas can agree on one goal and achieving it ... it's exhilarating



Name: Ezequiel Aguilar

Age: 24

Degree: Computer Science

Institution: Technological University of Panama


Name: Carolina De La Guardia

Age: 23

Degree: Biotechnology

Institution: INDICASAT-AIP

Hobbies:In my free time I like playing piano, playing tennis, watching movies and reading. Some of my favorite books are Anna Karenina, 1984, Sophie's World, Pride and Prejudice.

The iGEM experience:hard work, team work and a huge learning experience.


Name: Carlos Mario Restrepo Arboleda

Age: 24 years.

Career: Biotechnology. Specialization Area: Biomedical and Industrial Biotechnology.

Institution: INDICASAT-AIP.



Hobbies: Music (especially hard rock, heavy metal, post-grunge, punk-rock, alternative, rock-pop, country-rock, classical), song writing and singing, entrepreneurship and investments, science philosophy, hanging out with my family and friends.

iGEM Expectations: To increase my genetic engineering and systems designing skills in order to be able to design complex synthetic biological systems useful in biomedicine and the industrial field.

Research Interests: Gene Therapy for cancer and genetic diseases, induced pluripotent cells for cell therapy and tissue engineering, molecular markers for population genetic studies, vaccines development, microbial fuel cells, bioremediation, DNA damage and repair mechanisms, biophysics and nanobiotechnology, bacteriocins as antimicrobial compounds and food preservatives, reengineering processes and quality control.

Elias Grimaldo

Name: Grimaldo Elías Ureña M.

Age: what?

Degree: Electromechanical Engineer; Master of Science Graduate in Mechanical Engineering with emphasis in Renewable Energy & Environment

Institution: Technological University of Panama

Hobbies: The right word for me is passions, because my passions are Karate Do, running, math & physics, read (a lot) and philosophy. On the other hand I like to watch sports and scientific programs.

The iGEM Experience: As a scientist I am really excited to be part of this and could work in state of the art science field. Now I want to continue understanding and learning of Synthetic Biology. But as philosopher I think that actual science has fallen in “do” without thinking, works in fields that not understand without the necessary “why” questions about (f.e. What are we really doing and why are we doing it?). People accept new approaches without questioning about the implications.

Research Interests: Science and Philosophy, fundaments of reality and believes, how can we create a model to explain something? Scientist’s human practice. I work in Remote Sensing of Environment & Tropical Forest with the SENACYT - FIM, but you know I studied Mechanical & Electrical Engineering, in few words I am interested in a lot of things.



Complete name: Claudio Manuel Monteza Moreno

Age: 20 years

Career: Biology degree.

Specialization area: Zoology

Institution: University of Panama.


Hobbies: I enjoy cooking, read books, papers, listen to music, spend time with my friends and finally being with my family as much as I can.

iGEM expectations: Sometimes you feel like you really want to do something good for all world and I think iGEM is a perfect way to do it. Through iGEM we as students are able to create new and good things for us.

Research interests: I am not only interested in making science. Since I was a child "I HAVE A DREAM", as well as Martin Luther King, but in my case it is to study animal behavior in order to establish a better link between nature and us.