Alternative Roots


Heather Bottomley

Heather's the name, not doing the wiki is my game. I've just finished the third year of an MBiol in Cellular and Molecular Biology. I joined iGEM as an opportunity to formulate a novel idea and work in a multi-disciplinary team enhancing my biological knowledge.

Matthew Burridge

I'm Matt. I am studying for an MSc in Industrial and Commercial Biotechnology. I'm implementing a high-throughput Biodesign workflow within the project. I'm particularly focussed on Design of Experiments methods applied to the optimisation of competent cell production and transformation protocols. Currently in a one-way relationship with Otis the OT-2 robot and spend most of my days looking at red error messages.

Chris Carty

I’m Chris, a 2nd year Architecture student. I discovered iGEM when beginning my dissertation in the area of Bio-Materialism. I want to take organisms that have been designed at the genetic scale and design them for use at the human scale - aiding the transition from biologically inspired to biologically engineered design. Better at architecture than Will ;-).

Frank Eardley

I am a 4th year MBiol Cellular & Molecular Biology student. I joined iGEM for the opportunity to work with students from other academic fields and learn more about synthetic biology. Outside of my degree, I am a scuba diving instructor and enjoy jumping in the North Sea whatever the weather.

Umar Farooq

I'm Umar, a 1st year undergraduate studying Automation and Control Engineering. I joined iGEM for the opportunity to work alongside a multi-disciplinary team and develop my skills outside of engineering. When I'm not working on the project, I like swimming, playing the guitar and eating cake. Addicted to bad jokes, allergic to onions.

Sadiya Quazi

Sadiya’s the name, which most can’t pronounce (despite it being totally phonetic). Just completed first year of Chemistry after switching from Fine Art, and yes, it’s been a huge change, as people always exclaim when I tell them. Both benefit from having that alternative perspective and this is what drew me to iGEM - working as part of a very cross-disciplinary team.

Kyle Stanforth

I’m Kyle, an Industrial and Commercial Biotechnology MSc student. My role is to make the InterLab study better by incorporating new fluorescent reporters and internal standards into the test devices, but I mostly just look at dog memes.

Will Tankard

I’ve just completed my second year as an Architecture student. iGEM was a step into the dark for me, the last time I did anything relating to Biology was during my GCSEs. I’m interested in how the disciplines of Architecture and Biology can intertwine. Synthetic Biology offers a new perspective on design starting with more of a bottom up approach.

Lewis Tomlinson

Name: Lewis. Likes: llamas, guinea pigs, rock hyrax, all other animals, molecular biology, dungeons and dragons, science fiction and fantasy. Life goal: llama sanctuary (including birds and rodents).

Connor Trotter

Hey, I'm Con and I'm currently in my third year of Biology which has, so far, been fuelled by an excess of caffeine and binge watching a lot of Rupaul's Drag Race. I joined Newcastle's team to apply what I have learned in a unique fashion by bringing forward the design concepts of Engineering and Architecture into the biological field.

Patrycja Ubysz

I'm Pat, no game with my name. Just finished my first year of Chemistry, I probably liked it too much. I believe being interdisciplinary is crucial for research, especially in Synthetic Biology. I want to contribute to the team using my chemical/physical approach. I love working in the lab, however, I would be happier without the microbes! I'm a Basic coffee addict with bad experiences at BBQ parties. Probably follow every single NASA team account on Twitter.

Luke Waller

Having entering the fourth year of my MEng at Newcastle and hopefully getting into robotics. I took this role as I wanted to explore an avenue of engineering I was not familiar with, and to work as part of a multi-disciplined team.

Sam Went

I’m Sam, an MSc in Industrial and Commercial Biotechnology student. I am investigating how growth media affects device performance by modelling InterLab device performance in a defined media, with the aim of reducing variation. Currently drowning in data and stats.



Dr Alice Banks

I'm a Research Associate working for Dr Thomas Howard in the Biological Engineering group at Newcastle University. My current research looks at the potential of combining synthetic gene networks with functional materials to develop novel stimuli-responsive devices using cell-free protein synthesis. My work involves the exploration of large multifactorial design spaces, employing both automation and machine learning.

Jasmine Bird

I’m an iGEM alumni, taking part in 2015 as a first year Biological Sciences student on the Exeter team. I have been involved with iGEM every year since in some capacity. I am currently a PhD student at Newcastle University, where I use a Synthetic Biology approach towards constructing optical biomaterials.

Alba Iglesias Vilches

I'm a Biotechnology graduate student from the Polytechnic University of Valencia. I took part in iGEM 2012 and 2013 as a student of Valencia Biocampus team and was advisor of Evry team in 2016. I am now a PhD student at Newcastle University, where I apply Synthetic Biology approaches for the discovery of novel bioactive compounds.

Dr Colette Whitfield

I am currently working in the School of Natural and Environmental Sciences at Newcastle University on an EPSRC funded project with Dr Thomas Howard. My main research interests are materials designed at the nano-scale and utilising these materials for cell free synthetic biology.



Dr Angel Goñi Moreno

I am a Lecturer in Synthetic Biology at the Newcastle University. I obtained my PhD in Computational Synthetic Biology from the Technical University of Madrid, Spain, in 2010. For my post-doctoral training I firstly moved to Manchester Metropolitan University (UK) and then the National Centre for Biotechnology-CSIC (Spain) where I focused on understanding the dynamics of gene regulation for genetic Boolean circuits. I was appointed Lecturer at Newcastle in 2016, and won an EPSRC First Grant in 2017. One of my interest is on standardisation - I am Editor of the Synthetic Biology Open Language (SBOL) and contributor to the Standard European Vector Architecture (SEVA).

Dr Thomas Howard

I am a Senior Lecturer in the School of Natural and Environmental Sciences at Newcastle University. I am interested in different aspects of the genetic and biochemical regulation of carbon flux in plants and microbes and am a keen advocate of research-led teaching. In 2012 I led the inaugural University of Exeter entry into the iGEM competition and I have been involved in iGEM ever since. I recently joined the newly formed iGEM Engineering Committee.

Dr Jon Marles-Wright

I obtained my PhD in structural biology from the University of Oxford, where I focused on understanding how human immune receptors interact with their targets. For my post-doctoral training I moved to the University of Newcastle, where my research focus moved to bacterial cell biology. Following a two-year career development fellowship at the University of Newcastle, where I developed my interest in the structural basis of metabolic compartmentalization within bacteria, I was appointed to a Chancellor’s Fellowship at the University of Edinburgh in 2012. I was appointed to his current position in June 2016. I am an active member of the synthetic biology community and was awarded a SynBio LEAP fellowship in 2015.

Dr Maria Del Carmen Montero-Calasanz

I am a lecturer in Biology of actinomycetes and a PI in the Plant and Microbial Biology Group in the School of Natural and Environmental Sciences. My research is primarily focused on systematics and comparative and functional genomics of actinobacteria with a special interest on the management of soil-plant-microbe system in arid and degraded ecosystems.

Dr Dana Ofiteru

I am a lecturer in the School of Engineering. My research focusses on mathematical modelling of microbial communities, individual based modelling of biofilms, assembly and dynamics of bacterial populations and optimisation of bioprocesses.

Dr Jem Stach

Principal research interests include the ecology of marine actinomycetes, (diversity, abundance and biogeography), novel natural products from marine actinomycetes, the application of peptide nucleic acids in species-specific bactericide and the development of antisense-based antibacterial screens. Abyssomicin made the National press including The Sun, and The Guardian. My Qualifications include a BSc in Microbiology and Biotechnology from the University of Kent in 1996 and a PhD in Microbiology from the University of Kent in 2001. I'm also a member of both the Society of General Microbiology and the American Society for Microbiology.


The Advisors

Dr Vasilios Andriotis

My expertise is in plant primary metabolism, particularly seed biology and biochemical genetics. We are using molecular and chemical genetics, biochemistry and bioimaging to dissect the link between metabolism and growth in developing and in germinating seeds and seedlings.

Bradley Brown

I have been previously involved with iGEM in 2015 as a member of the Exeter team, and in 2017 with the Newcastle team. Currently I am a PhD student investigating how the principles of modularisation and multicellularity can be used to optimise the behaviour and development of biological systems.

Josh Isaac

During my third year of Pharmacy, I came across synthetic biology through its diagnostic potential in the Rapid, Low-Cost Detection of Zika Virus Using Programmable Biomolecular Components. After more reading I left Pharmacy with a BSc in Pharmaceutical Sciences and pursue a masters in Synthetic Biology, which I completed end of August 2018.
Throughout my masters it became apparent to me that Synthetic biology is moving towards a systems era and whilst module complexity and capability has advanced rapidly, integrating techniques have not. My research looks to overcome this bottleneck through dsRNA strand displacement cascades - by stacking these cascades you can emulate the same gated logic used in electrical engineering. Specifically I aimed to provide a proof of concept and build a model to study how changing sequence energetics affects the behaviour of individual and stacked displacement motifs in response to an RNA input. These transcription based tools could enable algorithms and SCADA systems to be encoded into plasmids whereby the result is reported via Toehold Riboswitch.
I’m currently pursuing PhD opportunities that will allow me to move past modelling and into synthesis, assembly, and implementation, to introduce to Synthetic Biology what the 7400 integrated circuits brought to electrical engineering.

Dr Maxim Kapralov

I am a plant biologist and my major interest is to modify crop plants to improve their photosynthesis and yield. My fascination with plant biology started when I was an undergraduate student and my research supervisor, Prof. Vladimir Pyankov, invited me into work with Prof. Gerald Edwards. After my PhD on plant genetics, I was fortunate to work with Gerry again at Washington State University revisiting evolution of C4 photosynthesis in the succulent clade of chenopods. This work was very formative and enforced my enthusiasm for plant science and photosynthesis research. My PhD led to a period of postdoctoral research on plant molecular evolution in Prof. Dmitry Filatov’s lab (Oxford) where I began developing my independent research vision to combine evolutionary analysis with my background in photosynthesis and apply this to the evolution of the major CO2 fixing enzyme, Rubisco. In 2013, I was invited by Prof. Spencer Whitney to work in his lab at Australian National University within the Gates funded project 'RIPE: Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency for sustainable increases in crop yield'. Using chloroplast transformation in plants I showed current limitations of interspecies Rubisco translocation and how they could be overcome by co-expressing cognate Rubisco chaperones. Working with RIPE made me aware of global challenges in food security. In September 2017 I started as a Senior Lecturer at Newcastle University.

References & Attributions

Attributions: Will Tankard and Umar Farooq