Team:JMU Wuerzburg/Team

iGEM Team Würzburg

We are the first group of students from Julius-Maximilians-University in Wuerzburg to go on the journey of participating in the iGEM competition.

Our undergraduate iGEM team consists of bachelor students from the fields of biology, biomedicine, biochemistry and medicine. We are supported by our advisors from biology, biomedicine and mathematics. Our lab is settled in the Institute of Virology and Immunobiology with our PIs.

Together we have created a productive work atmosphere where everybody can contribute to our project with their best abilities. To refer to everybody’s strengths we split our team into different project groups like Social Media, Wet and Dry Lab, Sponsoring, Wiki and Human Practice.

We want to create a foundation for future iGEM teams of our university and did the first step to bringing the iGEM spirit to Wuerzburg!

Iliana Alexandrow

Field of study Biology
Semester 5th Semester
Contribution Sponsoring
Description In our new iGEM team I am working on the mission field of sponsoring. I try to establish contacts to foundations, to lots of large international companies as well as to smaller regional companies presenting our project and asking for financial support and advice. It is a challenge to provide the funding to attend the Giant Jamboree, but we also need to organize laboratory material for the work on our research project.

I heard that a small group of students is trying to initiate a research project to participate in the iGEM competition. Besides the daily demands of our university life I thought it would be an exciting challenge to take part in organizing such a huge project as iGEM. Since then I had a lot of opportunities to challenge myself, and to confront myself with situations I am not very comfortable with. In this way I acquired lots of useful skills and experience for my future career, especially what it is like to work in a team with young ambitious students. This sometimes is difficult but teaches us all how to improve our teamworking skills.
Fun Fact At the age of twelve I built up a little farm for slugs in my room because I found a pregnant snail the had laid a few eggs. My very first own biological project ended when my mum took them all back to the wilderness while I was at school.

Nicole Banholzer

Field of study Biomedicine
Semester 5th Semester
Contribution Student Team Leader, Bioinformatics, Head of Wet Lab
Description I am a student team leader of our iGEM project. Thereby I organize the meetings and distribute all the arising tasks taking over many of them myself. I was involved in the composition of various sponsoring applications and the ethics application. In addition, I am responsible for the coordination of the lab work which includes carefully planning the experiments and being present in the lab as often as possible. Together with Rick I worked on most of the bioinformatic tasks to analyse the alignments to find suitable primers.

By initiating the formation of our team and working on the first iGEM project I would like to gain experience in the lab and to organize a research project through my own efforts. I want to establish the iGEM contest at our university for the long term.
Fun Fact In all situations regardless of time, temperature and location I drink tea. My thermo flask is my most faithful companion.

Prof. Jochem Bodem

Working Place Institute for Virology and Immunobiology
Contribution Principal Investigator
Description As the PI of our iGEM team I provide support to the team in every occasion they ask for help about. I supported the team in terms of finding academic sponsors and double-checking all applications for sponsoring as well as the application for the university’s ethics committee. In addition, I am supervising the work in my laboratory and instructed the wet lab team in safe laboratory work where I use my experience to provide them help with technical issues in the laboratory.
Fun Fact Apart from my beloved bicycle I hardly use any other means of transportation.

Tobias Butelmann

Field of study Master Biomedicine
Semester 4th semester
Contribution Advisor, Sponsoring, Social Media
Description As master student I left the wet lab to the undergraduate students to gain insights in the practical work and therefore I decided to be responsible for contacting companies, foundations, etc. Besides, as I like to be creative, I helped to outline a possible image film and filmed some sequences. It was a pleasure to sit 12h next to a camera filming a time lapse :)

I joined the iGEM team since I got in touch with the iGEM competition at University of Tartu (Estonia) and was very impressed by the dynamic team and by the freedom to self-determining one’s goals and studies. As soon as I heard of the idea to start a team at Julius-Maximilians-University of Wuerzburg, I wanted to contribute to this project and help launching this first-time undertaking.
Fun Fact In Estonia I used to work together with a fashion model in the lab. My flip-flops that I wear during the summer always add a touch of vacation feeling to everyone I meet so in terms of fashion we are the perfect lab partners.

Lukas Döhler

Field of study Computational Mathematics
Semester 5th semester
Contribution Advisor, Technical Consultant
Description I joined iGEM because they put out a letter seeking technical help regarding Web-Development in the rooms of the Faculty for the Department of Physics at our University.
Fun Fact When I'm not coding (a lot of hours in the short time before Wiki-Freeze) I perform on stage in various Metal, Rock and German Traditional Folk Musik Groups, e.g. OPA* Blasmusik.

Chantal Heckwolf

Field of study Biology
Semester 5th Semester
Contribution Sponsoring, Social media
Description Since the beginning of the iGEM project at our university I am an active team member responsible for social media and sponsoring. I report about the recent activities and events concerning our research by posting announcements and news from the lab on Facebook and Instagram thereby keeping everybody up to date. I also take over sponsoring tasks.

Organising our cake sales, where we introduced our project to the public and chatted with new people was great fun for me.

I am attracted by the challenge to create an entirely new research project from scratch and to be a pioneer. The development of a qPCR based rapid test system for the detection of plasmodium is a very promising and exciting venture that caught my interest and has been fascinating me ever since.
Fun Fact My team members had to figure out a fun fact for me.

Margarethe Hoffmann

Field of study Biology
Semester 5th Semester
Contribution Sponsoring, Photography and Design, Social Media
Description Within our project I take care of issues like our public and visual appearance but also to our financing. I was fascinated by the fact that iGEM is not only about biology and laboratories but also includes other aspects like getting connected with companies and other teams. In order to leave an impact on them you need a good representation of your team. So iGEM gives me the perfect opportunity to unite two fields I am very passionate about: science and creativity.

I am indeed very proud and blissful to have the opportunity and the honor to be a member of the very first iGEM team of the University of Wuerzburg. It is amazing to see our project come to life while taking part in it. Not only the iGEM competition itself motivated me to join our team but also our own research topic.
Fun Fact I am that one bartender in our night club people tell all their problems and stories because I am always listening and giving advice.

Elisabeth Kerler

Field of study Biology, Philosophy, Philosophy of Science
Semester 5th semester (B.Sc. Biology), M.A. Philosophy, M.A. Philosophy of Science
Contribution Advisor, research, editing, press, correspondence
Description At the beginning, I was particularly enthusiastic about the project: At that time, it was still a rather vague idea of a rapid test system that became adaptable. So, I did a lot of research for the team and looked for the positions where I could be most useful. Due to my previous education I found my place in editing and helped with applications and correspondence.

While working on the project, however, I was even more fascinated to see how students like me develop a project together - where the problems and limits lie and how different strengths can come to bear. I was particularly impressed by the will not to give up and to continue working despite everything. That's why it was important to me to make it known in the university's online journal, EinBlick.

In closing: I am the philosopher of the team and always have an open mind, even when it comes to problems in the team.
Fun Fact On weekends I like to be outside with my horse.

Susanna Lach

Field of study Medicine
Semester 3rd Semester
Contribution Wet Lab, Ethics Application
Description As a medical student I was co-responsible for the ethics application which is required for every clinical study in Germany and which we need to receive inactivated Malaria positive human blood samples. I also worked on applications for academic funding and contacts to the faculty of medicine. To ensure that every member of the team who is aiming to work in the wet lab is able to precisely pipette a qPCR, I organized several team internal pipetting tests.

I joined the iGEM team Wuerzburg in order to have the possibility to plan and execute an experimental study from the beginning to the end. This year’s topic, developing a rapid detection system for Malaria, attracted my interest since I am impassioned by tropic diseases.
Fun Fact My last name means “laughing” in German.

Annabel Maisl

Field of study Biomedicine
Semester 5th Semester
Contribution Student Team Leader, Head of Sponsoring, Wet Lab, Wiki
Description As one of the student team leaders of our iGEM project I am involved in many organisational tasks like coordinating the project, designing applications for academic sponsoring, initiating cooperations with different institutes or introducing iGEM to students and professors at our university. Having taken over the position of the head of sponsoring I am working on creating synergies with companies and scientific sponsors. Additionally, I am working in the wet lab to achieve satisfying results for our project.

As one of the founding initiators of our iGEM team it is a great pleasure for me that we have come to realise our enterprise to bring the iGEM spirit to the University of Wuerzburg. This great opportunity to further develop your academic career, improving your skills in the lab and getting to know synthetic biology lovers from all over the world can now be found at our university, thanks to iGEM!
Fun Fact Astrobiology is a fancy field of science.

Anna Ries

Field of study Biology
Semester 5th Semester
Contribution Interlab Study, Sponsoring
Description In our iGEM team I am, next to Chiara, responsible for the InterLab Study with the purpose to get the same results from measurements in different labs and therefore be able to reliably build upon other’s work. In addition, I am a member of the sponsoring team and communicate with local companies to ask for donations for the team, which will be used for implements for our project or for participation fees for meetings.

Malaria is a wide spread disease and therefore a cheap and rapid test can help to save lives through early distinguishment of Plasmodium species. I am proud to be part of a team managed by students with the goal to generate relevant data which is valuable for the improvement of health care. Also, it is a great chance to learn how to organize and conduct such a research project.
Fun Fact Before bumblebees sting, they raise their middle leg to warn the enemy. If these don’t react to this stop-signal, they turn around, show their sting and finally attack.

David Alexander Schuch

Field of study Biology
Semester 5th Semester
Contribution Sponsoring, Workshops, Hardware Development
Description The first time, I’ve heard about iGEM, was when Rick asked me to think about a topic for a project in synthetic biology, that could be performed by students. I was highly motivated to take part in such a project because I haven’t done continuingly practical bioscience since my lab work at my school for biotechnology a few years ago. My activities were organization and home office tasks like sponsoring, hardware development and contributing to human practice by organizing our lecture series.

It is quite an honor to be part of the first iGEM team from Wuerzburg. It is exciting to see how a research project is lead, equipped and developed at a very early point of my academic career. I hoped to experience the daily work of a scientist – and I was rewarded. That is why I also want to continue participating in the iGEM contest in the following years.
Fun Fact My hat is the inofficial mascot of our team.

Rick Seifert

Field of study Biology
Semester 5th Semester
Contribution Student Team Leader, Head of Bioinformatics, Wet Lab, Hardware
Description In our team I am a student team leader and hereby responsible for many organizational tasks, for example taking care of the ethics application and presenting the project to companies or scientists. Since I have some experience in using Inkscape, I designed our posters. Additionally, I supervise the bioinformatic part of our project. Furthermore, I worked in the wet lab. There I planned and executed experiments. We need a hardware device for our rapid test. That’s why I developed a concept for a Hardware and built it together with David. I joined the iGEM team to work on a project designed and executed by students. The new established team gives me the opportunity to engage in interdisciplinary research and increase my skills regarding project management. I am also exited to generate relevant data pushing our project forward. It is a great pleasure to take part in such an ambitious research project from the very beginning until it is finished.
Fun Fact I am a passionate collector of aquaria with or without inhabitants. One of them is even larger than my bed. Once I took over all the fish tanks of a pet shop so that there was not enough space for my bed any more.

Johannes Weber

Field of study Biomedicine
Semester 5th Semester
Contribution Human Practice, Wiki, Workshops
Description Within our project I take care of the written and visual content, which is needed to present our research and our team to the public. I write and review texts for the wiki, social media and posters to attract attention to our work towards faster diagnosis of Malaria. Besides from creating content I work in the Human Practice division in our team. We initiated a lecture series opened to all interested students to contribute to the university’s teaching program and to increase our recognition. Until now we had talks about Norovirus, Malaria and Primer- and Probe design. In the following semester I intend to expand our lecture series at our university give presentations in schools to encourage young students to get involved into science as soon as possible.

I joined the iGEM team to work on a research project that could result in huge benefit for many people around the globe. Through everybody’s personal effort we can improve diagnosis of malaria. My goal is it to further work on the malaria test system so that it actually can be used as a helpful tool to improve health care for everyone. By spreading information and communicating about science I would like to inspire others to join our mission.
Fun Fact I drink espresso in night clubs and run the city marathon in a suit.

Chiara Wolfbeiß

Field of study Biology
Semester 5th Semester
Contribution Sponsoring, Interlab study
Description Initially I was primarily involved our sponsoring team asking for support from companies and foundations. Recently I was occupied with doing the InterLab Study with Anna.

I joined iGEM to be part of this innovative experience from the beginning. Establishing the team here in Würzburg and working in a lab motivated me to join the team. The iGEM competition is a great opportunity and an inspiration for students to become more creative, think differently and solve problems on their own. It is a great idea to get students involved in lab work since they may have an unbiased approach to some problems.

Developing a convenient rapid test system for the diagnosis of Malaria could grant a huge benefit to thousands of people infected with the disease around the globe with no access to a decent health care system. We therefore aim to design a hardware that is cheap and easy to use.
Fun Fact My cat’s second name is Drosophila. It’s not his first name, because my family was against this idea.