Comprised of 20 students in the Edmonton area, UrbanTundra Edmonton is the first high school iGEM team in the Edmonton area. We first discovered iGEM at the annual Science Expo youth conference where a member of FREDsense, the 2012 University of Calgary iGEM team, gave a keynote speech on iGEM and Synthetic Biology. When we first started our team we had no mentors, no guidance, and no support. Our schools had refused to help fund the initial $6000 registration fee, so we took it upon ourselves to allocate the money. We did some fundraising, however, we eventually needed to pay out of pocket to cover the registration.
We registered the team two minutes prior to the deadline and spent a month without a Principal Investigator. After a long search, we talked to Dr. Mike Ellison, a professor at the University of Alberta Department of Biochemistry, who had worked with previous collegiate iGEM teams. It took some pestering, but we were very fortunate for Dr. Ellison agreed to be our mentor. He helped us obtain the research advisors, materials, training, and lab space necessary to pursue our project and we could not have done any of it without him.