2024 iGEM synthetic biology team

This project is ongoing. Applications are due by November 15, 2023.

What is iGEM? iGEM is an international synthetic biology competition that focuses on how genetic engineering can be used to solve real-world problems (http://igem.org). The award-winning UT Austin iGEM team is composed of diverse undergraduate students from many different majors with interests in bacterial synthetic biology projects that may incorporate biochemistry, bioengineering, molecular biology, computational biology, microbiology, science outreach, communication and many other fields.

Participation in iGEM at UT is an in-depth year-long 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 and development during the summer, and finishing with producing a website and presenting the project at the iGEM Grand Jamboree in Oct/Nov. Students often continue their research projects beyond the iGEM team to publish scientific papers.

Students will have opportunities to explore new research areas and perform science outreach to the public. Past examples of UT Austin iGEM team projects have involved creating bacterial biosensors that detect DNA from the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in bats, engineering an 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, engineering bacterial viruses, and delivering genes to degrade plastic and oil pollution to bacteria! See the project website for more examples and information.


The 2024 iGEM team is looking for students from diverse backgrounds with interests in one or more of these areas: biological/chemical engineering, molecular biology, biochemistry, synthetic biology, entrepreneurship, design, computation (ex: scripting in Python, data analysis in R, web design), and science communication. There are also many ways of contributing to the iGEM team beyond performing lab research: by contacting stakeholders, communicating the impacts of the project, developing outreach materials, etc.

In general, you should be a sophomore or junior to apply, but we do sometimes accept freshmen who have had prior research experiences.

To apply, email the following to jbarrick@cm.utexas.edu and dennis.mishler@utexas.edu:

(1) A resume or CV

Your resume/CV should include your GPA, your expected semester & year of graduation, and what science-related courses you are taking in Fall 2023 and plan to take in Spring 2024.

(2) A short (<1-page) statement about why you are interested in synthetic biology

In this statement describe: (A) Any past research and/or other experiences and skills that will make you a great iGEM teammate. (B)  An idea you have for a possible iGEM project and/or idea for how you would like to use synthetic biology to benefit society.

Project Timeline

2023 Fall (Nov-Dec): Apply for team. Idea generation and tryouts (Commitment: 1-hr week discussion)

2024 Spring: One credit hour crash course in synthetic biology and iGEM (Commitment: 1-hr week lecture; optional lab modules of ~15 total hours)

2024 Summer: Part-time to full-time research on iGEM project and work on science outreach and communication (Commitment: 20-40 hr/wk for at least 10 weeks)

2024: Fall: Finish research project, presentation, poster, and website. Selected students travel to the iGEM Grand Jamboree. (Commitment: ~10 hr/week)

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


Do not apply unless you are available to work on the project during Spring, Summer, and Fall 2024.

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.