Lethbridge iGEM 2016


Student Members: Karin Otero (Student Leader), Chris Isaac, Jeff Tingley, Kali Sage Strobel, Keith Aiken, Kieran McCormack, Rebecca Jeong, Rhys Hakstol, Sydnee Calhoun, Taylor Sheahan, Luka de Haan, Amber Beingessener
Advisors: Dr. Cesar A. Rodriguez, Dr. Andy Hudson, Dr. Senthil Kumar, Dustin Smith, Graeme Glaister, Suneet Kharey
PIs: Dr. Hans-Joachim Wieden and Dr. Brian Dempsey


Karin Otero
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4th Year, Neuroscience

Karin has been one of the most involved members on the team. She has spent countless nights in lab and is a keystone of the team.

Chris Isaac
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4th Year, Biology

Hi there. I’m Chris. This year the title of codemeister has been thrust upon me and I hope that by the time the website is done, you’ll be able to be here reading this. For now, I’m working on finishing up my B.Sc. and splitting my time between work, iGEM, and pursing a career as a purveyor of terrible jokes.

Sage Strobel
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3rd Year, Biology / Philosophy

I love science, so naturally iGem is a program I seem to keep returning to. My role has been mostly that of a writer and a researcher. I am currently working on the team literature review. Since I’m busy juggling school and extracurricular work, I don’t really have much spare time for fun. However, when I do get a few minutes to myself, I enjoy lattes, jogging, and Canadian bacon. Sometimes I even read for fun. I aspire to go on from my bachelor’s degree to become either an environmental or human rights lawyer.

Taylor Sheahan
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Ph.D. in Biomolecular Sciences

Hi all! This is my first year being involved with iGEM. I have a B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering and M.E.Sc in Biomedical Engineering. I look forward to learning more about synthetic biology at the Giant Jamboree and to share our work with the iGEM community.

Rhys Hakstol
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M.Sc. Student, Biochemistry

No bio provided

Luka de Haan
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1st Year, Art / Biology

I’m a first year double major of Art and Science at the University of Lethbridge. For iGem I didn’t participate in any scientific work, but instead worked on visual aspects with Courtney and Amber. Together we developed the 2D animation.

Sydnee Calhoun
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2nd Year, Biochemsitry

Hello, I’m Sydnee! Once upon a time I thought I was going to be a psychologist, but then I decided science was a lot more fun. This is my second year being involved with iGEM and I am enjoying my time working on human practices.

Rebecca Jeong
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2nd Year, Biochemisty

Hello, I’m Rebecca. This is my first year doing iGEM. I am always interested in something new that involves science so when I heard about iGEM and synthetic biology, I got excited to join the team. I learned many skills used in lab from help of other team members. I’m excited to learn even more about how synbio can be applied to other areas.

Kieran McCormack
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4th Year, Biochemistry

No bio provided

Amber Beingessner
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1st Year, Media/Education

I came onto the iGem scene a little late in mid-September, but I was happy to help. I enjoy animating, and helping to create a visual representation of the Lethbridge iGem teams project has proven to be excellent experience for the future.

Courtney McDermott
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2nd year, Digital Audio Arts

Hi there! I'm Courtney. This is my first year participating in iGEM. I am very excited to help the team by using my skills in the arts. As a music major I have learned lots about synthetic biology. I am excited to see other groups at the iGem Jamboree who have uniquely used synbio to create a positive impact on the world.

Keith Aiken
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3rd year, Science Education

This is my first year of iGEM and I've loved the rare and unique experience this project has been able to provide, both as a someone who loves to learn and as a future high school science teacher. I enjoy being a jack of all trades and look forward to learning more and seeing the new ideas at this year's Jamboree.

Jeff Tingley
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5th Year, Biology

MY NAME IS JEFF. I am a fifth year BSc student majoring in Biological Sciences. This is my first year participating in IGEM; joining to gain experience in the lab and to become more involved in university activities. Working with the team has been a blast, I not only gained wet-lab experience but human practice and business management experience as well. I look forward to the Jamboree and the following IGEM season.

Dustin Smith
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M.Sc.Student, Biochemistry

Hello, my name is Dustin Smith. I was born and raised in Lethbridge, and I am a Master’s student majoring in Biochemistry. I’m happy to be back with the University of Lethbridge iGEM team for a sixth year, and as always it has been a great experience. Outside of school my favorite activities are ice hockey, snowboarding, lifting, and recycling the same iGEM bio for multiple years.


Dr. HJ Wieden
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Primary PI

Associate Professor of Physical Biochemistry, University of Lethbridge

Originally from Germany, I moved to Canada in 2005 to start a research group on the structure and function of the bacterial protein synthesis machinery, a cellular process targeted by over 50% of the known antibiotics. I am intrigued by the molecular design and function of this essential bio-nanomachine. I try to unravel the underlying design principles in order to enable the rational design and engineering of novel bio-nanomachines. I am essentially asking the question if such novel bio-machines can be constructed from simple and fundamental principles or are these assemblies just too complex. Well and that’s why it was extremely easy to rope me into doing iGEM.

Dr. Brian Dempsey
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Secondary PI

Instructor, University of Lethbridge

Initially from out East, Dr. Dempsey moved to Lethbridge from Western University in Ontario.

Dr. Cesar Rodriguez
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Research Faculty, Florida State University

I'm a member of the research faculty in the Biomedical Sciences Department at the Florida State University College of Medicine. I have the great fortune of intersecting medicine and synthetic biology. I use an imagine, design, create workflow for developing cell-based therapeutics.

Prior to joining FSU, I was a Senior Research Scientist at Autodesk. I am a co-founder and former co-editor of the Synthetic Biology Open Language (SBOL). I was an iGEM judge in 2009 through 2013. Beyond pursuing exciting ideas and projects in Synthetic Biology, I enjoy raising two rambunctious daughters, snowboarding, football, computer animation (especially Pixar), electric cars, and travelling.

Dr. Andy Hudson
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Post Doctoral Fellow

Greetings! I am a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Lethbridge and my current work focuses on engineering RNA regulators of gene expression. Although this is my first year on an iGEM team, once the words “RNAi pesticides” were spoken, I was eager to jump on board as an advisor! Besides my interest in RNA and synthetic biology, I enjoy playing music, reading, golfing and spending time with family.

Suneet Kharey
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B.Sc. Biology

My name is Suneet. Very recently I graduated with my B.Sc in Biology with a minor in Philosophy. I’m very excited to be back on the University of Lethbridge iGEM team working on the Human Practices component of the team’s project.

Graeme Glaister
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5th Year, Neuroscience

I enjoy studying protein biosynthesis and my favorite biomolecule is RNA. As with every year in iGEM I look forward to the Jamboree, as it is an opportunity to meet people from around the world and learn about their unique projects. I am also the vice president of the Synthetic Biology club and enjoy playing Starcraft in my spare time (Masters League). I am an expert at creating "Rhys" puns and think of them whenever I can find time (Rhycently, Rhyspect, Rhysist, Rhysese pieces, Rhysults, Rhysearch station).

Dr. Senthil Kumar
Dr. Senthil Kumar Duraikannu Kailasamclose


Post Doctoral Fellow

I'm a Postdoctoral Fellow at Alberta RNA Research and Training Institute, University of Lethbridge. I combine my medical background (Clinical Biochemist and Medical Lab Tech) and my computation biology skills to study biomolecules with a special focus on structured RNAs.

I got my PhD degree in Molecular Biophysics from Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, India where I used computational approaches to understand the structure of RNA duplexes at base pair level. As an outcome of the project, I developed a program (Molbridge) and also two web servers. My Master thesis was on the effect of preprocessing on blood serum and plasma Clinical analytes. I am interested in Science policy and advocacy. I like to dance and enjoy hiking in my free time.