2021 iGEM synthetic biology team

This project is closed. No applications are allowed.

What is iGEM?

iGEM is an international synthetic biology competition that focuses on how genetic engineering of cells can be employed for useful applications (http://igem.org). The UT Austin iGEM team is composed of undergraduate students with an interest in bacterial synthetic biology, which can include research related to biochemistry, bioengineering, molecular biology, computational biology, microbiology and many other fields.

Participation in iGEM at UT is an in-depth year-long research experience, beginning with idea generation in Nov-Dec, transitioning to a crash course in synthetic biology during the spring semester, continuing with part-time or full-time research during the summer, and finishing with a presentation of the project at the iGEM Jamboree in Oct/Nov. Successful students often continue their research projects beyond the iGEM team to publish scientific papers.

Students will have opportunities to explore new research areas of their own design.

Past examples of UT Austin iGEM team projects have involved creating a E. coli "addicted" to caffeine to measure how much caffeine is in beverages, using systems for expanding the genetic code of E. coli with "sticky" amino acid to make glue proteins, and genetically engineering member of the symbiotic microbial community found in Kombucha!

See the project website for more examples and information.

Because the 2020 iGEM team project was virtual due to COVID-19, the team is planning to include experimental work related to testing some of the predictions and modeling they did this year in their 2021 project. See their project website for more details (https://2020.igem.org/Team:Austin_UTexas).


The 2021 iGEM team is looking for students with experience one or more of these areas: biological/chemical engineering, molecular biology, biochemistry, synthetic biology, entrepreneurship, computation (ex: scripting in Python, data analysis in R, web design).

In general, you should be a sophomore or junior to apply.

To apply, send us:
1) A resume (or CV) and a short (<1-page) statement about why you are interested in synthetic biology.
2) Your resume/CV should include your GPA, your expected semester & year of graduation, and what science-related courses you are taking in Fall 2020 and plan to take in Spring 2021.
3) As part of the short statement, please: (A) Describe any past research experiences and/or other experience that will make you a great iGEM teammate. (B) Briefly describe an idea you have for a possible iGEM project or idea for how you would use synthetic biology to benefit society.

Project Timeline

2020 Fall (Nov-Dec): Idea generation and tryouts (Commitment: 1-hr week discussion)
2021 Spring: One credit hour crash course in synthetic biology and iGEM (Commitment: 1-hr week lecture; optional lab module of ~15 hours if allowed by COVID-19 restrictions)
2021 Summer: Part-time to full-time research on iGEM project (Commitment: 20-40 hr/wk for 10 weeks)
2021: Fall: Finish research project, presentation, poster, and website. Selected students travel to the iGEM Giant Jamboree. (Commitment: ~10 hr/week)

Please see http://www.barricklab.org/igem for more details.


Do not apply unless you are available for research during spring, summer, and fall 2020.

Typical Time Commitment
See Project Timeline
Desired Length of Commitment
1 year (including summer)


The Office of Undergraduate Research recommends that you attend an info session or advising before contacting faculty members or project contacts about research opportunities. We'll cover the steps to get involved, tips for contacting faculty, funding possibilities, and options for course credit. Once you have attended an Office of Undergraduate Research info session or spoken to an advisor, you can use the "Who to contact" details for this project to get in touch with the project leader and express your interest in getting involved.

Have you tried contacting professors and need more help? Schedule an appointment for additional support.