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Undergraduate Program

iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) Competition Overview

The International Genetically Engineered Machines Competition, known as iGEM, is an annual competition that tasks teams with developing projects that solve real-world problems that are functionally and socially responsible.

iGEM is the largest international synthetic biology competition for undergraduate students that helps solve real-world problems. More than 300 teams participate annually. 

BIO 228 A&B Course Series/Team Rochester

BIO 228A&B is an opportunity for students of all majors to become members of a high-impact research team based at the University of Rochester, known as Team Rochester. Undergraduate participants at Rochester design and build their own engineered biological system using DNA technologies over the course of the summer.

The team collaboratively brainstorms, engineers, and produces a project for entry into the iGEM competition. In fact, Team Rochester drives the project in its entirety—from project choice, design, and experimentation, to fundraising, managing budgets, and social media.  

In addition to traditional wet-lab research, participating students gain experience:

  • Using DNA technologies
  • Constructing and validating new genetic parts
  • Applying mathematical modeling to predict the behavior
  • Guiding the design of the unique biological components and characterization assays
  • Designing, constructing, characterizing, and improving hardware that will work together with the designed biological organism
  • Exploring the implications of their project in society, and performing outreach activities

Course Credits

Since iGEM activities run somewhat continuously between February and November (minus holidays), the BIO 228A&B course series is divided into two four-credit courses: one in the spring and the other in the fall semester of the subsequent academic year. See the BIO 228A&B Course Timeline (PDF).

Credit from iGEM courses do fulfill requirements of some biological science tracks and have various applications to other majors (Learn more). Interested students are encouraged to talk with the track coordinators of the majors they wish to pursue to see how the BIO 228A&B course sequence may fit into their program of study. 

Summer Stay

Team Rochester members need to stay in Rochester during the summer months between BIO 228A and BIO 228B to to dive deeply into their projects.

Partial funding help offset housing costs to be given to students with the highest financial need is available through the FLARE Grant for Undergraduate Summer Research, administered by the Office of Undergraduate Research.

Visit the Office of Undergraduate Research website to learn more.

Faculty Mentor

Team Rocheser mentor, project lead, and UR biology professor Anne Meyer successfully led the Delft University of Technology iGEM team for five years before moving to the University of Rochester in 2018.

Her teams have undertaken projects such as:

  • Bomb-detecting bacteria
  • 3D printing of biofilms
  • Engineering bacterial lasers and microlenses

Her teams have won five gold medals and more than a dozen special awards, including the 2015 grand prize.

Meyer’s iGEM teams have also been well-publicized in media outlets, including national television, national radio, and the Washington Post, garnering valuable attention for the host institute, department, and team sponsors.

Apply to iGEM

Application for enrollment into BIO 228A&B to participate in Team Rochester is required. The application period is from September 1 to October 31.

Contact biology professor Anne Meyer at anne.meyer@rochester.edu or (585) 275-9290 for more information about the application process.