2018 Mid-Atlantic Meetup

2018 Mid-Atlantic Meetup Hosted by UMaryland iGEM

Team UMaryland hosted this year's Mid-Atlantic Meetup, giving teams an opportunity to practice presenting their ideas and exchange feedback with other iGEM teams in the Mid-Atlantic Area!

Each team gave a short presentation followed by a Q&A, and we had have coffee breaks and lunch in between. We also hosted guest speakers Dr. Tom Burkett from the Baltimore Underground Science Space, and Elliot Roth of Spira to talk about their experience in synthetic biology from a broad range of backgrounds.

Thank you to all the teams who participated, teams: William and Mary, Virginia, Pittsburgh, Richard Montgomery, and Georgia State!

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Guest Speakers

Tom Burkett

Thomas Burkett is the founder, past executive director (2012-2018), and current board chair of the Baltimore Under Ground Science Space (BUGSS). Tom is also a Professor of Biology at the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC), where he started and managed the schools biotechnology and biomanufacturing program until its demise in 2012. Currently he teaches introductory biology with a strong emphasis on biotechnology -although he is really looking forward to his upcoming retirement from CCBC.

Tom survived physical and analytical chemistry to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and Biology at Western Washington University. He came to Maryland in 1986, expecting to stay two years to earn his Master’s degree in Applied Molecular Biology at University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC 74-54!). A classmate, Susan (who is now his wife), convinced him to stay and he’s been a resident of the Free State ever since. Along the way he managed to convince a dissertation committee at the University of Maryland, College Park to award him a Ph.D. degree in Microbiology for his work at the Frederick Cancer Research Facility on suppressors of insertional mutations in the yeast S. cerevisiae under the guidance of David Garfinkel.

Tom bounced around for a few years after graduate school sailing (that’s another story), researching the use of Ubiquitin fusions for protein expression at IGEN, Inc., and conducting research on the oyster pathogen Perkinsis spp. In 2000 he joined the faculty of CCBC to start the schools new Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing program. Tom founded BUGSS in the summer of 2012 and though he’ll undoubtedly tell you how much work, sacrifice, and toil it’s been; after a drink or two he’ll also tell you that starting and running BUGSS has been the most rewarding and significant thing he has done in his scientific career.

When not at work, or at BUGSS, Tom and Susan (remember her) can usually be found out on their sailboat (something they have had way to little time for since starting BUGSS) or traveling around the Canadian Maritimes in their little travel trailer.

Elliot Roth

Elliot is the founder of Spira, a company that genetically engineers spirulina for food ingredients. Spira has received awards from RebelBio, Lighthouse Labs, the World Food Programme, Halcyon Incubator, BeGreen, CommBeBiz, and National Science Foundation, and has presented at SXSW, Synbiobeta and Thought for Food. He is a Kairos Fellow, a Seasteading Ambassador, and sits on the Virginia Governor’s Council for Youth Entrepreneurship. Before Spira, Elliot graduated with a degree in biomedical engineering; he trained at the Stanford School as a University Innovation Fellow, and has 10 years of synthetic biology experience and worked for 5 years as a product consultant. He previously founded 6 failed startups and 2 successful nonprofits including an open community science lab. He is incredibly motivated to solve physiological needs using simple biological design.


The Meetup opened for registration at 9:30 AM and ended at approxmiately at 4 PM.

Finalized Schedule
  • 09:30 AM Open for Registration (30 minutes)
  • 10:00 AM Opening Remarks (10 minutes)
  • 10:10 AM Group 1 Presentations Teams: Virginia, William & Mary, Georgia State, and Richard Montgomery (1 hour 10 minutes)
  • 11:20 AM Coffee Break (10 min)
  • 11:30 AM Guest Speaker 1: Tom Burkett (40 min)
  • 12:10 PM Group 2 Presentations Teams: UMaryland and Pittsburgh (1 hour 10 minutes)
  • 01:20 PM Lunch and Pictures (30 minutes)
  • 01:50 PM Guest Speaker 2: Elliot Roth (40 minutes)
  • 02:30 PM Group 3 Presentation: Holly, our North America iGEM ambassador. (1 hour 10 minutes)
  • 03:40 PM Coffee Break (10 minutes)
  • 03:50 PM Closing Remarks (10 minutes)
  • 04:00 PM After Meetup Social