The International Genetically Engineered Machine competition was established in order to advance the field of synthetic biology and foster international cooperation in the sciences. Nearly 300 teams from around the world participated at the 2016 International iGEM Competition from October 17th to October 31st in Boston.
The Nebraska iGEM team was awarded a silver medal in this year’s competition. This is the first ever iGEM team from the state of Nebraska. The research goal of the team is to use engineered bacteria to reduce high nitrate levels in Nebraska waterways caused by fertilizers. High nitrate levels lead to eutrophication, hypoxia, and a resulting dead zone where few fish or wildlife can thrive. The National Academy of Engineering listed the management of the nitrogen cycle as one of the 14 grand challenges of engineering for the 21st century.
The Nebraska iGEM team consisted of four faculty mentors Jiantao Guo (chemistry), Wei Niu (chemical & biochemical engineering), Massimiliano Pierobon (computer science & engineering), and Myra Cohen (computer science & engineering). The undergraduate student team members included chemistry junior Danny Dooling (team leader) and sophomore Madison Bierman, chemical & biochemical engineering junior Brynne Schwabauer and senior Joshua Mueller, computer science & engineering sophomore Colton Harper and junior Phuong Ninh. The two graduate student instructors of the team were Nanxi Wang (chemistry, Guo lab) and Eroe Daniel (chemistry, Guo lab).
The undergraduate student team members conducted their research project in the Guo lab of the chemistry department. They spent 40 hours per week this summer in the lab. The team was supported by the UCARE program, the National Science Foundation, and the departments of chemistry, chemical & biomolecular engineering, and computer science and engineering. The team also received sponsorship from Nature Technology Corporation, LI-COR, Monsanto, Integrated DNA Technologies, and New England Biolabs.
Congratulations to our students and faculty members!