Purdue Biomakers




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Just to give you a little background on what iGEM is all about: The International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition is the premiere undergraduate Synthetic Biology competition. iGEM began in January of 2003 with a month-long course at MIT. This design course grew to a summer competition, which has evolved over the past ten years to include over 300 teams from all over the world. Student teams are given a kit of biological parts from the Registry of Standard Biological Parts at the beginning of summer. Working at their own schools over the summer, they design and build biological systems and operate them in living cells.

2006 marks the year that Purdue began its journey toward making a difference in the world of synthetic biology, entering the competition with seven undergraduate members and three advisors. Purdue continued to compete for the next four years, earning bronze medals almost every year but never anything more. Facing some trials and tribulations along this journey, Purdue did not field a team in the 2011 iGEM competition. Fortunately, the team was revived with enough interest and support to not only field a team in 2012 but to also receive a gold medal and advance to the international competition at MIT for the first time in the team’s history. Then in 2013 Purdue iGEM achieved an unprecedented success, ranking third in the undergraduate division of North America at the 2013 regional competition.

Now the Purdue Biomakers are back again, better than ever. With more members, increased funding, and a focus on upholding Purdue’s strong legacy in agriculture, conservation, engineering, and technology, you can expect the 2016 iGEM team to continue to redefine success, striving to reach even greater heights in this year’s iGEM competition!

Figure 1:The 2016 Purdue iGEM team in front of our lab building, Bindley Bioscience Center

Hana Kubo


Hana is a junior majoring in Genetics. She is so in love with DNA that she is convinced that she is going to marry it; she’s still waiting for the IDT proposal. Hana is the 2016 President of the Purdue Biomakers, but in reality she is just a figurehead and is actually held in captivity by Bo and the other executive board members. Hana is originally from Tokyo, but spent her elementary and middle school years in New York, and then high school years in Sydney, Australia. If this was the only thing you knew about Hana, you’d think she’s a pretty cool person. Hana hopes to become a research scientist and a university professor studying the genetics behind endometriosis, while working as a part-time K-Pop connoisseur. In her free time, Hana likes to dance in her seat while studying while listening to hard rock, as well as conduct excessively moderate online shopping. She often dreams of her cloning and transformations in her research lab working, or candles finally being permitted in residential halls. She then wakes up depressed because neither of those things will happen in real life.
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Bowman Clark

Vice President of iGEM Team(VPiT)

Bowman is a junior majoring in Biology who is also pursuing minors in Biotech and Creative Writing. This year he aspires to victory at the 2016 Jamboree and has crafted a rigorous work schedule to accomplish this goal. He is excited to work on potentially groundbreaking research both in the characterization of proteins from Microlunatus phosphovorus and the integration of organic nanowires into E. coli. He loves to write all kinds of fiction (and some nonfiction) and plans to write a dystopian short story about phosphorous shortages for the SYNENERGENE grant application this year. When he is not engrossed in science or his writing, Bowman can be found making his guitar sing (when he can be bothered to practice), playing DOTA 2, or watching movies. Bowman styles himself a cinephile and scoffs at his interns for their poorly developed cinematic palette. He is devoted to improving both their synthetic biology skills and their taste in film. Bowman also enjoys hanging out with his friends and of course can’t wait to see Lexi every day.
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James Welch

Vice President of Research

James Welch is a senior planning to graduate in the spring of 2017 with a major in Cell, Molecular, and Developmental Biology; minors in Spanish, Creative Writing, and Biotechnology; and a Learning Beyond the classroom Certificate and Graduation with Honors for research while at Purdue. He has been a part of iGEM since freshman year and plans to keep contributing until graduation rips him away. His career goals involve the use of Synthetic Biology to solve local problems by working with the community. Graduation is just around the corner, so he is looking for Graduate Schools where he will be able to pursue more options in the field of synthetic biology as well as learn and develop as a scholar.
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Melissa Robins

Vice President of Programming

Melissa is a Biological Engineering student entering her junior year. She is the Vice President of Programming.  While she finds spending hours in a lab extremely fun, Melissa also enjoys watching Game of Thrones, playing soccer, and reading Dostoevsky. She aspires to work for/start a company that works on creating sustainable energy solutions, and if that doesn’t work out, she will live her life as a happy hermit.
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Suraj Mohan


Suraj (sue-rudge) is a junior in Biological Engineering with a concentration in Cellular and Biomolecular Engineering. His love for synthetic biology first blossomed over in-depth conversations of gene therapy and viruses with his high school biology teacher. His legacy of being the “Virus Guy” still carries on with his high school friends to this day. He is also referred to as Sir-idge, Lieutenant Surge, and DJ Mohani: Mohani mo’ Problems. Suraj plans to pursue a M.S. in Biotechnology and work for an R&D department of a major biotechnology/pharmaceutical firm one day. His hobbies involve Netflix binges, obsessing over everything that is cooking, making good Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonations, and doing VERY on point Spongebob references in daily life. Someday, Suraj hopes to secure his dream career, live anywhere that is sunny (cough* California cough*), and own a pitbull named “Mr. Worldwide."
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Sean Magill

Director of Lab

Sean is a student in Biological Engineering, minoring in Mathematics and Religious Studies. He is a practicing (and improving) Catholic, Hibernophile, bassist, and avid fan of 50s Rock, Christian art/architecture, baseball, and his best friend Jill O. Aside from this, Sean is interested in Hepatitis C, particularly in finding the causes of the large percentage of unknown transmissions. One day, he plans on entering the Jesuits to teach math and the Logos throughout the world.
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Lexi Petrucciani

Director of Human Practices

Lexi is a junior in Biological Engineering with a focus in Cellular and Biomolecular systems and minors in Math and Dance. She loves synthetic biology and was ecstatic to have the opportunity to stay over the summer with iGEM in 2015. Now she is the Director of Human Practices and is just as excited. She plans to get a PhD in something... eventually... Other than that she spends way too much time dancing, like WAY TOO MUCH. She has danced in almost every style, but is currently into Hip hop (she cannot twerk), Modern, and Tap. She also enjoys watching shows by Joss Whedon, making obscure musical references, and looking at math proofs online (weirdo). She has no idea what she is doing with her life and is just trying to stop thinking about it and go with the flow as she learned in her Contact improv class.
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Ryan Budde


Ryan Budde is a junior in Biomedical Engineering and the secretary for iGEM. He is also involved in Greek life, Purdue's orientation program Boiler Gold Rush, and undergraduate research. He is interested in studying medical devices.
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Paige Rudin

Chief Liason

Paige is a current sophomore majoring in Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Global Engineering and concentrations in Neuroengineering and Pre-Veterinary studies. She thinks the brain is rad and would like to contribute to the growing body of research produced by brains learning about brains (it gets trippier the longer you think about it). As the 2016 Chief Liaison, Paige has earned the nickname “Tiny Rickus” by doing nothing other than resembling advisor Dr. Jenna Rickus. They both have curly hair—it must be the hair. A retired competitive soccer player due to 2 ACL reconstructions, Tiny Rickus has lived in the exotic locales of Illinois, Switzerland, Miami, and Indiana, once rode a dairy cow, and has a scar from an unfortunate incident with a pelican. In the time Paige decides to declare “free,” she enjoys reading, drinking coffee, petting cats, reading while drinking coffee and petting cats, drinking coffee while petting cats and reading, and petting cats while reading and drinking coffee. Someday, she hopes to cure ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, while reading, drinking coffee, and petting cats.
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Helena Lysandrou

Director of Public Relations

Helena Lysandrou is currently the Director of Public Relations for the Purdue Biomakers. She a junior in Biological Sciences minoring in Chemistry. Helena is originally from Bloomington, Indiana but is a proud Boilermaker. Outside of class, she is extremely passionate about her tissue and regenerative engineering research, and is thinking about pursuing an M.D./P.h.D. Helena is Cypriot Greek and loves Diet Coke, Axolotls, Grey's Anatomy, and being a Science Ambassador for the College of Science at Purdue.
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Caleigh Roleck

Caleigh is a sophomore studying biochemistry in the biology department and minoring in biotechnology and statistics. Her hobbies include collecting vinyl records, drinking Red Bull/ruining her sleep schedule, and trying too hard to make herself seem cool. After completing her undergraduate degree, Caleigh plans on earning a PhD and then pursuing a research-intensive career. She would appreciate if you follow her on Instagram (@caleighanne19) and Twitter (@CaleighRoleck) because having more followers improves her self esteem.
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Rachael Eberle

Rachael Eberle is a sophomore in Biology-Genetics and pursuing the “Certificate of Achievement in German for Specialized Purposes”. This is her second year in iGEM, and she hopes to learn more about synthetic biology and the possibilities that it contains. After her undergraduate years, she would like to attend veterinary school and study to be a research veterinarian. She can often be found lying in bed avoiding responsibility, or if you catch her on an up day, she might be running vicariously through the rich fields of Indiana. Recently, Rachael has discovered that her microwave was not as powerful as she once thought it to be, but she’s proud of it anyways.
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Casey Martin

Casey is a senior in Agricultural Engineering with a focus on Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering (ie, she wants to be an environmental engineer while earning one of the longest-titled majors). This is her third year on iGEM. Currently hailing from Colorado (yes she knows what was recently made legal; no, you do not need to ask her about it or give a “knowing” look; yes, the mountains are very pretty you should visit), she has also lived in California (California girls come in beach tanned but also glow-in-the-dark pale with beautiful porcelain skin), Texas (stop making fun of it, it’s really not that bad y’all), and Georgia. She loves animals (see, above, environmental engineering), reading (see, above, engineering), swimming/scuba diving (see, in past and dive book, 10 years on swim team and multinational scuba dives), and eating fruit (see, in apartment, fridge half filled with watermelon, Fuij apples, Braeburn apples, red grapes, and bananas). She spends her time working, reading, practicing karate (it’s Key-Iy, not Hi-yah!), hanging out with her boyfriend, spending time in the cult-like environment of the iGEM team, and trying to complete all engineering homework and projects to a satisfactory degree (enjoying moderate success thus far). In the future, she plans to become an environmental engineer to fix environmental problems (possibly with techniques such as synthetic biology) and help the world get/stay clean “for [at least] ten minutes!” like Mr. Incredible.
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Jill Osterhus

Jill is a junior in Biological Engineering, specifically Cellular and Biomolecular. She hopes to one day be in research at the forefront of synthetic biology and/or is considering becoming a professor. Future goals include saving the human race from inevitable self-destruction and finishing a shampoo and conditioner bottle at the same time. She enjoys making fun of reality television, reading in hammocks, and trying to not set smoke detectors off with her mad cooking skills. At Purdue, she is also passionate about Purdue Students Against Alzheimer’s (PSAA) and I2D2, a program teaching kids about engineering so that perhaps future generations can save us from being doomed for all eternity. And also because engineering is awesome.
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Danish Ghazali

Mohammed will be a junior in biological engineering with a focus in cellular and biological engineering and a minor in management and certification in entrepreneurship. While he wants to one day be part of R&D in industry someday, for now he roams around in Dr. Philip Low's research mixing beakers and causing general mayhem. When not attending classes or in lab, Mohammed spends a majority of his time sleeping, playing basketball or tennis, or netflixing his life away. Oh and sometimes he and his roommate play music and bake M&M cookies. So yeah.
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Archana Kikla

Archana is a sophomore majoring in Genetics and pursuing a minor in Biotechnology. She’s eager to learn about all aspects of the team and can’t wait to get in the lab. In her spare time, Archana loves to listen to indie bands ranging from the 60s to modern day, drinking coffee in hipster looking cafes, and spending quality time goofing off with her friends and family.
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Barrett Davis

Barrett is currently a junior in Purdue's Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering looking to minor in computer science and perhaps pick up another language or two along the way. Although most of his friends couldn't name his hometown, neither could he, as his move to Purdue is only the latest in a long line worthy of its own Indiana Jones travel montage. If ever you were to catch Barrett when he is not hurriedly cycling from class-to-meeting, meeting-to-class, class-to-class, or meeting-to-meeting, you would probably see him playing his saxophone, learning guitar, mountain biking, listening to podcasts, or pondering about life around him (for instance why people do things "on purpose" rather than "with purpose"). As a person made of stardust and recycled carbon, Barrett likes to believe in the non-zero chance that some of the atoms which now make up his knees and toes once resided in the rotator cuffs of scientific or humanitarian giants such as Alexander Fleming, Leonard Euler, and Mahatma Gandhi, but he tries not to actively let it go to his head. In the future Barrett hopes to work on improving medical infrastructure in the developing world, or (like Fleming) towards making leaps in the science of health and medicine in his respective century, be it through tissue, genetic, or pharmacological research (this time "with purpose", unlike Fleming).
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Ethan Titus

Ethan Titus is junior in biological engineering with a focus on cellular and biomolecular engineering. He first found iGEM through a biotechnology class and has been hooked ever since. At the moment he hopes to one day work in research and development at a pharmaceutical or biotech company. In his free time he likes to read, play video games, and untangle those damn headphone cords for the third time today. He also enjoys solving Rubik’s Cubes and even made a club for them in high school. Ethan can solve one in under 30 seconds and is currently perfecting his technique for solving one behind his back and blindfolded while riding a unicycle and only interacting with the cube via telekinesis.
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Emma Foster

Emma is a junior majoring in biological engineering with a concentration in cellular and biomolecular engineering and minoring in dance. She is still deciding on her post-graduation plans with either industry or graduate school in mind. This is her first year in iGEM, and she enjoyed working in the lab this summer. In her free time, Emma enjoys dancing, eating ice cream, and watching FRIENDS.
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Mark Aronson

Mark is a senior in the Purdue Honors College majoring in Biological Engineering with a concentration in Biomolecular and Cellular Engineering. Born in San Jose, CA and raised in Westborough, MA, Mark was drawn to Purdue for the rigor of the engineering program and the Big Ten campus culture. Mark was a research intern for the Biomakers in 2014 and the president in 2015. Mark has also served two years as a Resident Assistant in Shreve Hall and is currently the inaugural Resident Education Assistant of the Purdue Honors College and Residences. He currently conducts research in the Rickus lab, where he is modeling the bioremediation kinetics of sol-gel encapsulated Pseudomonas putida. One of Mark’s favorite past times is existing, a hobby he picked up a few years ago and has decided he likes it enough to keep doing it for a little bit longer. Mark is excited to close out his time at Purdue as he looks to pursue a PhD in bioengineering following graduation. ​
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Arren Liu

Arren Liu is a senior in Genetics and is a Senior Advisor for the 2016 Biomaker team. In 2015, Arren was the past treasurer for the Biomaker team and received the prestigious Purdue iGEM award for “Most likely to communicate via memes” and exclusively communicates with dank gifs and images. Arren is an undergraduate researcher in the Solomon Lab and is presently assisting his graduate student, Kok Zhi, with generating a CRISPRi Library within E. coli in order to generate increased isobutanol-tolerant strains.
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