Team:Queens Canada/Team

Meet the Team!

The Queen’s iGEM team consists of eighteen undergraduate students from a variety of different disciplines including biology, biochemistry, life sciences, engineering and computing. All of our team members share a passion for synthetic biology and a desire to participate in student-led research and expand their knowledge of the work done in this innovative field. Due to the multidisciplinary expertise of all our members, each student on the team has contributed their own unique experiences and skills to our 2018 research project.


Elisha Krauss (Director)

Elisha is the current QGEM Director, and he just graduated from Life Sciences, specializing in Biomedical Sciences with a thesis in Neuroscience! He is starting his Masters at McGill University in the Integrated Program in Neuroscience, where he will develop novel viral vectors for optogenetics. He enjoys travelling (backpacking and road-trips) and dogs. He recently just got back from a three-week trip to Europe! He backpacked in London, Glasgow, Paris, Berlin, and Prague. In his free time this summer, he hopes to learn French and study for the GRE. He has a long-haired dachshund named Harley.

Ellis Kelly (Wet-Lab Lead)

Ellis is in her fourth year of Biology. She has a particular interest in microbiology and molecular genetics; she was intrigued by synthetic biology and its potential applications for solving world problems. She joined QGEM not just for her interest in synthetic biology, but also for student-driven research. Some fun facts about Ellis include that she is training for her second Tough Mudder, loves reading mystery novels (Agatha Christie), likes watching sports (big TFC fan), and loves baking (she has a really good pie recipe that she’ll make for the team)!

Maddison Gahagan (Outreach Lead)

Maddison is a fourth year Life Sciences student, specializing in Biomedical Discovery. She has always had a passion for microbiology and biochemistry, and thought QGEM would be an excellent opportunity for her to get more involved in student-led research that combines both of these interests. As the Outreach Lead and a wet-lab member this year, she hopes to gain hands-on lab experience while also informing and educating the public on the importance of synthetic biology applications. She hopes to pursue a career in pharmacy. Some fun facts: Maddison has a three-legged cat, she owns many orchids even though they always die, and she works at the on-campus Printing & Copying Centre!

Eric Grewal (Dry Lab Co-Lead)

Eric is in fourth year of Mathematics and Engineering (“Apple Math”). His area of specialty is in computing and communications. He has always had a passion for problem solving, so studying math was a natural choice. Eric is originally from British Columbia, and he loves spending time outdoors. Eric joined QGEM to find a way to use the math skills he’s learned to solve real world problems.

Abigael Schonewille (Dry Lab Co-Lead)

Abigael is in her fourth year of Biomedical Computing. She is interested in genetics, bioinformatics, and computer-assisted surgery. She hopes to go on to pursue a Master's degree and continue into research. She joined QGEM to gain experience in developing software and analyses for a genetic engineering project. She loves travelling and has lived in Austria and Canada. She was a speed skater for over 10 years and enjoys kayaking. She has her SCUBA license and has explored many of the wrecks in the St. Lawrence river! In her spare time she likes to read, spend time outdoors, and challenge her friends to board games.

Julia Grein (Volunteer Liaison)

Julia is in her final year of Biochemistry with a Certificate in Business. This is her fourth summer on the QGEM team! Julia’s passion lies in bridging the gaps between the bench and business, with a focus on collaboration and communication. As the Volunteer Liaison for a second year, she interacts with all members and helps the interdisciplinary QGEM team understand the various parts of the project to build an effective team!

Janis Cheng (Logistics Director)

Janis is in her third year of Life Sciences, but currently transferring to Biotechnology. She prefers experimenting on new ideas instead of learning them from powerpoint slides, and she thought QGEM would be a good place to be doing that! Her primary interest is microbiology, specifically bacteria and viruses. When Janis is not organizing her notes and setting up tasks for the team, she can be found taking care of the 43 plants in her house and rewatching Marvel movies.

Ruben Warkentin (Outreach Volunteer)

Ruben is in his third year of Biochemistry and is returning for his second year with the QGEM team. He has been interested in all things molecular biology, ever since he learned that mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell – QGEM was a good opportunity to expand on that knowledge. With his sriracha shirt, he continues to bring fresh style and ideas to the QGEM Outreach team. If Ruben is not talking about synthetic/molecular biology, he can be found running western blots.

Sara Stickley (Outreach Volunteer)

Sara is in her fourth year of Life Sciences and is returning for her second year with the QGEM team. Ever since first learning about synthetic biology she has been eager and excited to get involved and learn more about the fast-paced, innovative field! When not working hard with the outreach team this summer, you can find Sara trying to master the ukulele and spending time under the sun. Sara hopes to pursue a masters degree in genetics or biochemistry and can’t wait to work with the QGEM team for another summer.

Declan Rowett (Wiki Volunteer)

Declan is in his third year of Computer Engineering. He was a dry-lab volunteer last summer and is excited to improve upon some of his newly acquired skills assisting in the dry-lab again. While not studying anything remotely similar to the biological processes encountered in QGEM, he is interested in expanding his mental horizons and working with people with different passions to his own. Once sufficient knowledge is accumulated, he shall begin his takeover of the research industry with self-improving AI that will solve all of the world's problems, and *never* cause a robot uprising, or so he says.

Jimmy Chung (Website/Wiki Volunteer)

Jimmy is a fourth year Computer Engineering student. Previously an Intern at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Jimmy is intrigued in the potential for technology to bring forth improvements in health care. Jimmy is focused on developing the QGEM website and wiki this summer while completing a Full Stack Web Developer Internship at Canada Create. Jimmy is interested in the tech start-up scene is getting ready to launch a new home rental platform, Rent Point. When not coding or happily messing around with technology, Jimmy can be found struggling on the golf course or enjoying some British High Tea!

Daniel Stret (Hardware Volunteer)

Daniel is in his fourth year of Chemical Engineering in the Biochemical Specialization. He was drawn to QGEM, through Queen’s Biomedical Innovation Team (QBiT) through the potential use of using synthetic biology in biomedical applications. Always having an interest in the field of biology, he looks forward to exploring this exciting field and gaining insight into how he can bring engineering and biology together into a potential career. Outside of his interest in research and innovation, he is am a member of the Queen’s Varsity Rowing team and enjoys anything that involves being active and outdoors.

Emily Rae (Hardware Volunteer)

Emily is a newly graduated Electrical Engineering student, and is starting her MSc in Medical Device Design abroad. She was a previous Design Lead for Queen's Biomedical Innovation Team (QBiT) and joined QGEM to provide support and continue QBiT's work on the hardware portion of this year's QBiT-QGEM project. When not working or at the lab, Emily can most likely be found baking cookies or binge watching The Office for the 10th time.

Alex Pipchuk (Outreach Volunteer)

Alex is in his third year of Life Sciences. He was excited by the prospect of a student- lead, competition-oriented project and was drawn to QGEM after hearing about it from a friend and former team member. When not helping out in the lab or with the Outreach branch, Alex enjoys being tagged in science/doggo memes, and playing rugby.

Alice Park (Outreach Volunteer)

Alice is in her third year of Biochemistry, with a minor in World Languages. She wanted to join QGEM to get some experience in student-lead research. She is interested in the real-life applications of synthetic biology and is super excited to be working with QGEM this summer! Outside of school, she enjoys doing karate and dance. In the near future, she hopes to go on an exchange or work abroad for a year.

James Colwell (Dry-Lab Volunteer)

James is entering his third year of Biochemical Engineering. Hoping to supplement his academic education with hands-on applications of synthetic biology, James is excited and honoured to be a part of this year’s QGEM team! When he is not busy determining the feasibility of improvements to the toothpaste manufacturing processes, James enjoys cooking, eating copious amounts of the food he cooked, and passing out immediately after. James is also the incoming Academic Co-President of the Chemical Engineering Chemistry Student Executive.

Braedan Robinson (App Developer)

Braedan is a fourth year Computer Science student, specializing in Software Design and Video Game design. He is interested in App Development and implementing new technologies, and hopes to deploy his own Android/iPhone app to the world! Outside of studies, Braedan is the Captain for the Queen’s Varsity Ultimate Frisbee team, as they look to bring home their 3rd championship in 4 years!


Dr. Virginia Walker

Dr. Virginia Walker is a professor and Queen’s Research Chair in the Biology Department at Queen’s University. She is known for both her teaching style and her research, as she has won TVO’s Best Lecturer Award (2010) and the Prize for Excellence in Research (2016). Her research interests include antifreeze proteins, stress genes, and the molecular basis of resistance. Dr. Walker has proudly advised QGEM before. She recently returned from a field work expedition to Gjoa Haven, Nunavut.

Dr. Robert L. Campbell

Dr. Robert L. Campbell is an Assistant Professor in the Biochemistry and Health Science programs at Queen’s University. He has been a recipient of numerous teaching awards, including being voted “Favourite Lecturer” by BCHM 310/315 students. His collaborative research focuses on calpains and ice-binding proteins, using X-ray crystallography and molecular modelling to study these dynamic proteins. Dr. Campbell has been involved with a handful of QGEM projects as our Protein Modelling Guru. He’s fond of sailing and cycling in his free time.

Dr. Martin Petkovich

Dr. Martin Petkovich is a Professor in the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences at Queen’s University. He studies vitamin signalling and metabolism in physiological processes. He is an expert in steroid receptors and Vitamin D therapeutics. However, you may recognize him from classes such as BCHM 218 and DDHT 459, where he would give out extra marks for sending him a haiku about transcription factors.

Dr. John Allingham

Dr. John Allingham is an Associate Professor in the Biochemistry and Health Science programs at Queen’s University. He holds a Canada Research Chair in Structural Biology, but he also plays a structural role in holding the QGEM Team together year after year! His research goals are to understand and re-engineer mechanisms of biomolecules, and his QGEM goals are to promote synthetic biology and student-led research.