Hirel Patel

Hirel Patel is a 4th year biology major and a leader of the UGA iGEM team. He has been apart of the iGEM team since his freshman year. He strongly believes that using Archaea in the field of synthetic biology could allow us to create a high value biochemicals chemicals in the future. When not in the lab, he enjoys running and playing badminton. He plans to attend medical school to become a primary care physician in the future.

Benjamin Park

Ben Park is a 3rd year Microbiology & Psychology student who is native to Georgia. When he is not spending time doing iGEM research he is usually leading various organizations on campus, doing policy research on disasters, and working on an influenza vaccine project. Some of his pursuits outside of academics include boxing, spending time with his family, and lifting weights. iGEM has given him the opportunity to connect with various students with similar interests across the country while exploring the wonderful world of Methanogens.

Anu Romesh

Anu Romesh is a third-year Biology major and Comparative Literature minor at the University of Georgia. She has been involved in the iGEM team since Summer 2016 and her role in the lab has been coordinating the Interlab portion and collaboration with other teams.

Ghazal Motakef

Ghazal is a senior majoring in Biology. She enjoys working out, spending time with my family and traveling. Something unique about her is that she is Persian and also has a twin sister. Being part of iGEM has brought her to become passionate about research in methanogens because they are important in making our environment more energy efficient. She plans to continue to do research after graduation and pursue a career in medicine.

Komlan Guedze

Komlan is a junior majoring in Biochemistry and has always been fascinated with all the cutting edge provided by science in general, whether it is identifying a problem and using the scientific method to possible test hypothesis as well as provide solution for them. He loves food, and reading books on personal development and leadership. He also likes to watch Dragon Ball Z and Naruto.

Shant Ohanian

Shant Ohanian is a senior Biology and Psychology double-major with a neuroscience emphasis at the University of Georgia, and a Spanish minor. He plans to attend dental school after graduation, and in the meantime has participated in infectious disease research, has performed tropical ecology field research in Costa Rica and participated in medical internships in Peru as well as locally, via shadowing and volunteering. He is a community outreach chair for the UGA team, manages a private tutoring company in Athens and plans to graduate in May of 2017.

John Buchanan

John Buchanan is a fourth year Biology major with an emphasis in Neuroscience and a minor in Spanish. Upon graduating he plans to attend medical school and then pursue a career in internal medicine. Apart from iGEM, John tutors underprivileged Hispanic children, volunteers and helps translate at a local indigent clinic, and enjoys playing golf, hiking, and watching college football.

Kyler Herrington

Kyler Herrington is a 3rd year microbiology student. He joined the University of Georgia iGEM team in the spring of 2016, and he spends most of his lab time cloning. His research interests center mostly around environmental microbiology. When not in the lab, he enjoys a good book or an afternoon catnap. After graduating, Kyler plans on attending medical school in order to one day become a clinical pathologist.

Dr. Zhe Lyu

I have been working on many aspects of methanogenic archaea, including their physiology and ecology, since my doctoral studies. Working with a group of talented and passionate iGEM students, I am currently focused on developing tools for genetic engineering of Methanococcus maripaludis, an excellent model organism for methanogenic archaea. Because of its uniquely autotrophic and methanogenic metabolism, we are constructing M. maripaludis as a platform species for making high value biochemicals with an ultra-small carbon footprint. As a proof of concept, we have recently demonstrated that a recombinant M. maripaludis strain could produce geraniol using H2 and CO2 or formate when a synthetic geraniol synthase gene was heterologously expressed (Lyu., et al., 2016, ACS Syn Biol). In parallel, the same set of genetic tools has also enabled us to explore some fundamental molecular mechanisms for methanogenesis (In progress). Another unique feature of M. maripaludis is that it shares many genes with human in the information processing system (Lyu and Whitman, 2016, CMLS). Therefore, our platform could also promote development of an archaeal model for certain human diseases (In progress).

Dr. Narendran Sekar

Narendran Sekar is one of the instructors of UGA-Georgia iGEM team since 2013. He holds a Ph.D. in Biological and Agricultural Engineering from UGA. His major research work focusses on studying extracellular electron transfer of microorganisms such as cyanobacteria and archaea for alternative energy (electricity) generation. He is currently working on enhancing photocurrent generation in cyanobacteria through synthetic biology approaches. Further, he is exploring exo-electrogenicity of a hyperthermophilic archaeon called Pyrococcus furiosus to generate electricity at high temperature niches. He can be reached at

Dr. William Whitman

Dr. William B. Whitman is a professor in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Georgia. His research focuses on methane producing archea and marine alphaproteobacteria. He has served as the head PI for the UGA iGEM team since its inception.

Omolola Falade-Osiefa

Omolola am a 5th year student of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Biotechnology with area of concentration in plant science. Her favorite part of working with the team is learning the synthetic biology skills that allowed her to work with M. maripaludis; a methanogen that is not easy to culture. She enjoyed working with the diverse team members and learning about their cultural background. She is a research scientist in training and her goal is to work with the UN someday.