Revision as of 03:55, 27 October 2010 by KarinaA (Talk | contribs)


Meet The University of Alberta Team

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The University of Alberta Genomikon Team has worked hard this summer to bring our kit to life for high school students. Our diverse backgrounds, skills, and talents have allowed us to work efficiently and achieve success. Click the names on the left panel to learn more about our members, advisors, and support staff. Special thanks to our support staff and sponsors for aiding our project!

Karina Arnesen

Honors in Biochemistry (4th Year)

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This is my first year with the Alberta iGEM team, and so far so good! I plan to continue into further studies after my degree. Otherwise, I enjoy martial arts, playing piano and reading modern fiction.

Eric Bennett

Electrical Engineering, Biomedical Option (Graduate)

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This is my second year involved with iGEM. I expect this year to be as enjoyable as last year and even more successful. My experience with the U of A team has exposed me to concepts and experiences that I could not have received elsewhere in my undergrad experience. My interests include brain machine interfacing, computational intelligence, haptic teleoperation, and of course, synthetic biology. I hope to do research and development of technologies in at least one of these areas whether it be in grad school or industry. iGEM has proven to be a fascinating and rewarding experience and I am looking forward to the competition.

Stephanie Cornfort

Specialized in Marketing Bachelor of Commerce Program (3rd Year)

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I am in my third year of university, attending the Alberta School of Business and majoring in marketing. I am involved in a number of students groups including iGEM, EDGE Business Competition, and Campus Recreation. In my spare time I coach figure skating in the Edmonton community.

Oscar Cortes

Specialized in Molecular Genetics (Graduate)

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My future plans include entering into a Masters program in Medical Genetics or Human Genetics, and pursuing this discipline towards a PhD. I enjoy reading books about the human genome and advancements in stem cell research. In my spare time I like to play a variety of sports that I am not necessarily good at: soccer, softball, and dodge ball. I see iGEM as an extraordinary opportunity for me to be exposed to real life research, in which my knowledge of molecular genetics will be challenged, and will help me further my understanding of Synthetic Biology. "Man with all his noble qualities still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin" - Charles Darwin

Anh Dao

Biological Sciences & Chemistry (5th Year)

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Since I enjoy learning new things, the General Science program allows me to explore a broad range of subjects, from Biochemistry and Microbiology to Classics and Nutritional Food Sciences. My goal is to get into graduate studies in either Microbiology and Biotechnology or Microbiology and Genetics. Thus, I believe iGEM is a fascinating opportunity to learn about Synthetic Biology, to gain experience conducting experiments in a laboratory and work with various people with different educational backgrounds. When I am not slaving away with studying and schoolwork, my hobbies include: producing digital art on Photoshop, listening to music, playing the piano and chasing my ankle-biting dog when he slips past the backyard fence because he plans to wreak havoc around the neighborhood.

Mark Elliott

Biology with Business Minor(2nd Year)

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I am looking forward to the upcoming year. It’s my first year involved with iGEM and I am excited about the project that we are working on. The team is awesome and I couldn’t have asked for a better group. I am interested in the commercial applications of synthetic biology as I think it has a huge potential in the biofuels market. I am amazed at what can be done in the field already and am excited to see how it evolves and flourishes. I hope to be involved in business in some manner in my future and I think it would be an incredible experience to own a biotech or green energy company.

Kim Freeman

Biological Sciences (4th Year)

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I am about to graduate from my undergrad degree in biology and plan on pursuing a postgrad degree in a much, much warmer climate. Other than science, my favorite things include cooking, music, running and flying. I joined iGEM because of the sheer potential synthetic biology offers and to gain a little insight into what is already a hugely controversial field. After an inspiring introduction, I am quite excited to see where we'll be in 10 years!

Paige Hacking

Biological Sciences (3rd Year)

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I am currently a third year student en route to completing a BSc degree. Although I’m not set on a particular career just yet, I am interested in optometry and medicine. When I’m not studying, I’m busy volunteering, singing with my choir, teaching dance or indulging in random vegetarian cuisine. I believe iGEM offers undergraduates a unique opportunity to collaborate with individuals from not only science, but many other fields of study. As a first time team member, I am excited to take what I’ve learned in lecture and apply it to a project with huge business and educational potential. I look forward to a fun summer and an intense competition!

Pieter Hak

Biological Sciences with Chemistry Minor (4th Year)

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I’m already done my bachelors at the UofA, I’ve just been tagging along with iGEM over the summer as a volunteer. From iGEM I’m looking toward studies and work related to synthetic biology. I really hope to see synthetic biology open up the intricate machine-like world inside cells to engineering applications. For now, help from the biofuels industry seems to be a safe bet, as long as oil prices stay high. I’m also a fan of rally racing, DnB, military aviation, eastern and western philosophy/metaphysics and you can find me on Starcraft 2 occasionally.

Arni Hansen

Specialized in Molecular Genetics (Graduate)

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I was born in Toronto, Ontario but have spent nearly my entire life in Edmonton. I aim to contribute my knowledge and abilities in this field to the U of A iGEM team. I look forward to being a part of a team that offers its students a chance to participate in the scientific community and to contribute to the burgeoning field of synthetic biology. My outside interests are: sport (soccer, rock climbing), music (playing kit drums, listening to nearly all genres), and languages (fluent in one, nearly-functional in three more, and can say at least “thank you” in about 30 others). I sincerely hope to help ensure that the U of A team continues to prove itself as an organization in the vanguard of scientific innovation. I also love to laugh…ha ha.

Stephen Jahns

Computing Science / Genetics (4th Year)

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Steve is pretty much the coolest guy I know. He grew up out in the bushes, and had to knife-fight a fully grown grizzly every day before school. Now, he's made it his mission to clean up the streets, and will stop at nothing before Eric Bennett and his gang of hooligans are brought to justice.

David Kramer

Honors in Biochemistry (4th Year)

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This is my first year being involved with the iGEM team. As Biochemistry is one of my major, it serves as my primary interest to study the inner workings of life and I find synthetic biology and it's ability to play with these processes extremely interesting. In my spare time I can be found reading up on current scientific advances, gaming, or drinking ridiculous amounts of coffee. I hope to either pursue Synthetic Biology through a PhD or study Medicine in the future. So far, iGEM has been an excellent opportunity to learn about the potential that biological systems hold for future industrial applications. I look forward to seeing everyone in Boston!

Jacqueline Lee

Honors in Bioinformatics (3rd Year)

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This is my first year in iGEM. I joined iGEM because of the opportunities it presented in learning about research, synthetic biology and the applications of computing science to these fields. I am interested in mathematical modeling, genetics and molecular biology and I would like to pursue these interests by obtaining my doctorate and doing research into mathematical modeling of biological systems. I am originally from Red Deer, Alberta and in my free time, I enjoy traveling around the Canadian Rockies doing activities such as backpacking, canoeing and biking. I look forward to solving problems and working with and meeting new people through the course of this project.

Kurtis Letwin

Bachelor of Commerce Specialized in Accounting (3rd Year)

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I am a third year Accounting major at the Alberta School of Business, with a minor in Strategic Management and Organization. I am originally from a small town northeast of Edmonton where it takes only five minutes to drive through the whole community! Currently, I am an External Director for the EDGE Business Competition and a Teacher's Assistant with the Management Science Department at the School of Business. As well, I am a Student Ambassador for the Alberta School of Business and represent the school at various social and recruiting events. I have attended a number of conferences and competitions on behalf of the business faculty, most notably the 2010 Deloitte National Leadership Conference. I am a complete sports fanatic and when I can find some spare time I enjoy officiating minor hockey games. I love meeting new people and iGEM is definitely a place where I will get to do just that.

Darren Liviniuk

Bachelor of Commerce Specialized in Accounting (4th Year)

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I am in my final year at the Alberta School of Business and an active representative of the University of Alberta, as President of the Accounting Club, as Captain of the JDC West Taxation Team, as a Student Ambassador, and as the Business Blogger. I attended the Deloitte National Leadership Conference in 2009 and will join the firm’s Edmonton office in 2011. Finally, in my spare time, I am an avid reader, a dismal golfer, and play soccer and basketball.

David Lloyd

Honors in Biochemistry (5th Year)

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This is my second year being involved in iGEM. While Biochemistry is my major, I have many interests including Genetics, Immunology, Cell Biology, Bioinformatics, and Microbiology. In my spare time I can be found playing sports like soccer, volleyball, or squash, as well as playing piano, listening to music, and playing video games. In the future, I hope to continue into a graduate program in Biochemistry, Cell Biology, or Synthetic Biology. 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!

Amanda Pisio

Honors in Molecular Genetics (Graduate)

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I was born and raised in the city of Edmonton. I plan on continuing on to do my masters at the University of Alberta this following year. I hope to spend my career doing research in the field of immunology or developmental biology. During my free time I rock climb, dance, play Ultimate Frisbee. In the summers I love to camp, hike and spend time at lakes. I also take as many opportunities as I can to travel. This coming fall I will be backpacking around Europe. I joined iGEM because I believe that it will be an interesting experience in a field that I have little experience in and I hope to spend the summer tackling all the difficult problems that come our way.

Alina Ponomarev

Honors in Immunology and Infection(3rd Year)

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This is my second year with iGEM. Last year was an incredible learning experience and I am very excited for this upcoming year. In the future, I hope to pursue a Medical Degree or a PhD in Immunology and Infection. I moved here from Russia ten years ago. In my spare time I like to jog, dance and drive.

Fahad Safi

Biological Science and Chemistry (4th Year)

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I am entering my fourth year in my undergrad degree in Biological sciences and chemistry at the University of Alberta. I love my degree because it allows me to gain experience in a wide variety of subjects. I enjoy research because it allows me to apply my knowledge, challenge myself and think critically. Working with iGEM is an opportunity in a life time and I am very glad to be a part of this very exciting group that is sure to help make many breakthroughs in modern synthetic biology and genetics. In my spare time I like to go to the gym, tan and then do my laundry. I also enjoy boxing and call of duty.

Ravina Singh

Biology (3rd Year)

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I am currently a third year BSc student with a major in biological sciences and minor in psychology. I still have no idea what I want to do after my degree; hopefully I have figured it out by the time I graduate. This was my first year on the iGEM team and I have to say that synthetic biology has definitely sparked an interest in me. In my spare time I like to read, play video games and catch up with my favourite TV shows.

John Taggart

Economics with Biological Sciences Minor (4th Year)

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I am most passionate about botany and as such am fond of all things plants. This is my first year with the iGEM team and I am very excited because I see synthetic biology as a vehicle to help relieve many of the challenges facing humanity. To solve problems using game theory (an economic tool) we must work our way backwards to the beginning. All life begins with a genetic code.

Jeremy Thomas

Pharmacology (4th Year)

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After I finish my degree, I plan to continue into medical research. I’ve always been interested in how things work- my primary interests are in Physiology and Pharmacology. I’m motivated by challenges, and I’m glad to be joining the university's iGEM team this year. I find Synthetic Biology to be incredibly fascinating. I have high hopes for the field and our part of it this year. Though I was born and raised in and around Toronto, I came to Edmonton to get another perspective on the great big country that I live in. I’ve also always wanted to see the Northern Lights. I’ve learned many things in my time here, and I’ve truly grown to hate the cold. In my free time, I enjoy running, playing the piano, and flossing (dental hygiene is important!).

Mike Wilson

Biology with Computer Sciences Minor (4th Year)

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My interests are diverse (evolution, music, visual arts, robotics, artificial intelligence, and more) but at the root of them all is my interest in creativity. I am constantly in awe of the creative power of evolution and the astounding diversity of the life on our little planet. What better way to learn more about the the inner workings of the living things around us than to tinker with them and reassemble their parts in new and strange (hopefully useful) ways? I very excited to be a part of the iGEM team and participate in the development of new tools and methods in the field of Synthetic Biology. I hope to continue researching in this area beyond my undergrad, and ultimately use these tools for the creation of microbial robots.

Zach Wiltshire

Specialized in Cell Biology (4th Year)

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I am entering into my last year in the Cell Biology program at the University of Alberta and this will be my third year involved with iGEM. In addition to iGEM, my other research experiences have included synbio and biophysics projects. iGEM has proven to be an amazing eye opener for the potential of biological engineering.

Gaby Wong

Visual Communications (4th Year)

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I am finishing my last year in the BDes program, majoring in Visual Communications. My addiction involves following design & art blogs and reading design books. I spend my free time repurposing furniture, doodling, decorating cupcakes and listening to music. iGEM has given me a great opportunity to apply my design knowledge to something real and practical.

Saima Zamir

Biology (4th Year)

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I am an international student and was born and raised in Pakistan where my home and heart is. I wish to actively pursue neuroscience for graduate studies and look forward to serve in the health care industry. This is my second year in iGEM, first being in 2008 where she had a good learning and research experience while working on 'Bisphenol Eh' project. My interests include badminton, nature, writing, and volunteering. Finally I appreciate good company and good books as well as art and craft.

Mike Ellison


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At the beginning of his career, Mike Ellison’s interests were primarily centred on the structure and function of complex biomolecules. More recently his interests have tended towards the possibility of constructing synthetic biological devices that perform useful functions.

As Synthetic Biology theme leader of the Bioconversions network, his current efforts are directed toward the creation of microbial systems with the capacity to produce high value chemical feed stocks from provincially available sources of biomass.

He continues to be a strong advocate for innovative science. He has served on the boards of Genome Prairie, the Alberta Network for Proteomic Innovation and has played a major role in bringing new technologies to the university through two multi-million dollar investments from the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

Kim Ellison

Maryla Lupicki

Doug Ridgway


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David Evans

Chair of Medical Microbiology and Immunology

Jack Moore


Jack Tuszinsky

Cross Cancer Centre

Carl Amrhein

Provost and Vice President (Academic) University of Alberta