Meet the Team!

Evan Becker

Year: Junior

Major: Electrical Engineering

Minor: Bioengineering

Why I Joined iGEM: There was definitely a stochastic aspect to it! By chance, I ended up working in a wetlab my freshman year. Like many of those with electrical engineering background, I was fascinated by the parallels between synthetic biological systems and circuit design. I wanted to continue to explore topics of biological modularity and control, as well as learn more about modelling non-linear systems. So when I found out about iGEM, I knew it was something worth pursuing!

Favorite Movie: No Country for Old Men

Matthew Greenwald

Year: Senior

Major: Microbiology

Minor: Chemistry

Why I Joined iGEM: I enjoyed that the Pitt iGEM team gave undergraduates the opportunity to brainstorm, design, and execute a project of their own creation. iGEM would allow me to explore the new field of synthetic biology and learn new skill and techniques that I would not have otherwise experienced such as modeling and website creation.

Favorite Movie: Ghost Busters (1984)

Vivian Hu

Year: Junior

Major: Bioengineering

Minor: Chemistry and Economics

Why I Joined iGEM: iGEM is a very unique research opportunity for undergraduate students that allows students to explore the field of synthetic biology and take initiative in developing a project. Also, iGEM is a well rounded experience that involves tasks beyond wet lab such as community outreach, Wiki page, and modeling components.

Favorite Movie: Tangled

Tucker Pavelek

Year: Junior

Major: Molecular Biology and Physics

Minor: Chemistry

Why I Joined iGEM: I have a passion for research and wanted to start asking my own questions. iGEM is a great opportunity to research topics and ideas of interest to you while learning about synthetic biology, project design, and teamwork. I was also interested in being a part of scientific collaborations, learning new lab techniques, and attempting to code the wiki. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work on an awesome project with an even more awesome team.

Favorite Movie: The Matrix

Libby Pinto

Year: Sophomore

Major: Microbiology and Political Science

Minor: Chemistry

Why I Joined iGEM: I joined iGEM after listening to previous iGEMers share their own passionate experiences about the research. After I did my own exploring into what iGEM is, I was drawn in by the student-driven aspect of the research and the growing field of synthetic biology in general. I am so grateful for this experience and being able to share my amazing adventure with others! :)

Favorite Movie: Up

Zemeng Wei

Year: Senior

Major: Chemistry

Why I Joined iGEM: I've heard iGEM before transferred to Pitt, but didn't get the chance to participate in it. I'm attracted by iGEM because it provides an opportunity to do independent research and many other chances like outreach, collaboration, and Wiki page. Also, being able to explore synthetic biology excites me a lot.

Favorite Movie: Pirates of the Caribbean

Advisors & Mentors

Dr. Alex Deiters

Alex is a member of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, the Molecular Biophysics and Structural Biology Program, the Medical Scientist Training Program, and the Center for Nucleic Acids Science & Technology at Carnegie Mellon University. He has published over one hundred peer-reviewed papers, written five book chapters and 11 review articles, has presented over one hundred research seminars, and has consulted for several pharmaceutical companies.

His research accomplishments include receiving a Basil O'Connor Starter Scholar Award from the March of Dimes Foundation, a Sigma Xi Research Faculty Award, a Cottrell Scholar Award, a Beckman Young Investigator Award, a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, a Teva USA Scholars Grant from the American Chemical Society, a Thieme Chemistry Journal Award, an American Cancer Society Research Scholar Grant, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Explorations Grant, an NCSU Alumni Association Outstanding Research Award, and a Charles E. Kaufman Foundation New Initiative Research Award.

Dr. Sanjeev Shroff

Dr. Sanjeev Shroff is the Distinguished Professor and Gerald E. McGinnis Chair in Bioengineering and Professor of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. He is widely recognized as a distinguished scholar in the cardiovascular arena focusing on relationships between left ventricular mechano-energetic function and underlying cellular processes with a special emphasis on contractile, regulatory proteins and post-translational regulation of cardiac contractions, the role of pulsatile arterial load in cardiovascular function and potential therapeutic applications of vascular stiffness-modifying drugs and/or hormones, and finally the role of regional contraction dyssynchrony in global ventricular mechanics and energetics.

Prior to joining the faculty at Pitt, Dr. Shroff was a faculty member at the University of Chicago for 17 years in the Department of Medicine (Cardiology Section). Trained as an electrical engineer (Bachelor of Technology from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India, and Master of Engineering from McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada), Dr. Shroff obtained his doctoral degree in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania and completed his Postdoctoral Fellowship within the Cardiovascular-Pulmonary Division of the University of Pennsylvania Department of Medicine.

Dr. Jason Lohmueller

Jason Lohmueller is an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh in the laboratory of Dr. Olivera Finn. His research focuses on using synthetic biology approaches to create novel protein- and cell-based cancer immunotherapeutics. Jason carried out his Ph.D. studies at Harvard University in the laboratory of Dr. Pamela Silver. He was previously involved with iGEM as a member of Brown University's 2006 team, a TA for Harvard's 2008 team, and an advisor for Pitt's team since 2014.

Dr. Natasa Miskov-Zivanov

Natasa is an assistant professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Bioengineering, and Computational and Systems Biology at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Miskov-Zivanov received her Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, where she currently holds an adjunct faculty position and completed her postdoctoral training in Computational and Systems Biology at the University of Pittsburgh. She was the founding adviser of iGEM at CMU back in 2012. Her research interests include automation of learning and explaining big mechanisms in biological networks and in other complicated systems, synthetic biology, and systems medicine.

Dr. Cheryl Telmer

A research biologist at Carnegie Mellon University, Cheryl is developing fluorescent and bioluminescent sensors for live-cell imaging of protein localization and dynamics of cell structure and function. She works in a collaborative research project with Dr. Miskov-Zivanov, as part of DARPA’s Big Mechanisms in Cancer in which the goal of the program is to develop technologies for automated reading of scientific literature and development of causal, explanatory models of signaling pathways in cancer.

The End