UGA iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) was able to come back to Athens with the sweet satisfaction of accomplishment after a successful weekend in Boston at the 2015 iGEM Giant Jamboree, an annual synthetic biology competition put on by MIT. The UGA team brought home the gold for its measurement project and was runner-up in the overall measurement competition. In addition to these two major achievements, the UGA iGEM team developed the first Archaeal Interlab study ever in iGEM history. In other words, the UGA team is the first college team to take on the challenge of extensively studying archaea, single-celled organisms that resemble bacteria. To make their success even better, they competed against 2,700 other attendees and 280 teams and were able to perform at the competition’s highest level.
For this year’s competition, the UGA Alumni Association sponsored UGA iGEM’s trip to Boston. This funding was made possible by generous gifts to the Georgia Fund. The UGA Alumni Association uses private support like this to make an impact on campus and in the lives of students, which often includes supporting student groups on campus!
The UGA iGEM team was created in 2012, and from its start, has been a team destined for success in helping to advance the field of synthetic biology. Within a year’s time, this young team went from being the new, “rookie” team to being a dominant, medal-winning team. This year’s medal is just one to add to their collection and like the others, it is the product of constant efforts, passion and excellence in scientific research. The goal of the UGA iGEM team is to establish the feasibility of Archaea in the field of synthetic biology. The 2015 UGA iGEM team includes 16 students and is led by Rebecca Buchanan, a fifth-year student studying biochemistry and molecular biology.
The purpose behind iGEM’s Giant Jamboree is to raise awareness on synthetic biology research as well as to promote collaborations for the development of practical solutions. The teams are judged on their research novelty, impact toward real world solutions, outreach, collaborations and more. All in all, the students that participated in this year’s competition exemplify UGA’s motto of “to teach, to serve, and to inquire into the nature of things,” and the UGA Alumni Association is honored to have helped them achieve their goals.