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.
New for the 2024 team! iGEM will be organized as an Advanced Research Initiative (ARI). Application instructions and the deadline will be posted later in the Fall.
2023 Fall (Nov-Dec): Apply for the team. Interview. Generate project ideas together. (Commitment: 1 hr/week discussion)
2024 Spring: Three credit Advanced Research Initiative (ARI) iGEM course. This course has lecture/discussion components in which students will develop project proposals by reading and discussing scientific and wet-lab components in which students learn and use methods for DNA assembly and genetic engineering of bacteria and begin their project. (Commitment per week: 2 hr of lab instruction + 4 hr of self-scheduled lab time, 1 hr of lecture/discussing + 2 hr of reading, writing, and research preparation.)
2024 Summer: Part-time to full-time research on iGEM project and work on science outreach and communication. We are usually able to offer at least partial summer research fellowships to support several students who we think will make the greatest contributions based on performance in the spring course. (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.