Virginia iGEM Team Tackled Manifold Challenges During Pandemic

February 15, 2021

Congratulations to UVa's iGEM team for receiving Gold level certification in the 2020 iGEM Competition, held virtually for the first-time this past November.  The International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Competition is an annual collegiate research contest in Synthetic Biology, an area of research at the interface of biology and engineering, in which designer cells are computationally modeled and engineered to solve global problems.  5000 students from 249 institutions competed in 2020.  The Virginia iGEM team presented “Manifold,"  a novel biological platform to improve the metabolic engineering of bacteria.  This was the 14th consecutive year UVa participated in the competition, though it was a much different year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Because most students around the world did not have access to laboratories, the competition switched from a one year to a two year calendar, with the first year (2020) emphasizing the design of synthetic biological devices and the second year (2021) emphasizing construction and testing of the devices.   Here at UVa, the iGEM team had to adapt to research online during the summer (see and then, in the fall, adapt to a socially distanced lab environment with strict health protocols.  Creativity, determination, and resiliency defined the team in 2020.  Team Virginia (shown above) included Julia Ball (captain, Biology), Collin Marino (Chemical Engineering), Aparna Kola (Biomedical Engineering), Sophia Link (Biology and Physics), Jacob Polzin (Chemistry), Veronica Gutierrez (Biology), Apekchha Pradhan (Cognitive Science), Pietro Revelli (Biology), Colin Haws (Biomedical Engineering), Dev Patel (Biology), and Eddie Micklovic (Biology).  The Virginia iGEM advisors are Profs. Keith Kozminski (Biology) and Jason Papin (Biomedical Engineering).  Click here to learn more about the Manifold project and iGEM at UVa.