Nimaya De Silva
Nimaya is a new member on this year’s iGEM team, but she is certainly no beginner in the field of synthetic
biology and was formerly a member of Lethbridge’s high school iGEM team for three years prior to
entering university. As one of the most humble members on the team, Nimaya prefers to stay out of the
limelight, but her diligent and unrivaled work ethic as one of the few wet lab members to finish their
wiki content on time has not gone without notice.
Nimaya joined iGEM yet again because of the amazing learning experience she had during her high school years, and to continue developing her skills in synthetic biology.
Micha is a third culture kid from the Philippines who grew up in Saudi Arabia. She is proud of her ability
to adapt to new surroundings. When she moved to Canada to study Plant Biology, she had to adjust not only to
a new school, but also to a new society with a different culture. She knows 75% of the script from the
first Shrek movie and has recorded multiple ukulele covers of songs from the Shrek franchise.
Micha heard about iGEM in her first year from Christian, her mentor. Christian infected Micha with his zeal for aptamers and gene therapy, eventually convincing her to join the team. Micha felt that it was a good opportunity to get involved in undergraduate research and to figure out what she wanted to do with her BioSci degree. Having been infected with the SynBio bug, Micha plans to continue her involvement in plant biotechnology and aspires to make plant biotechnology into a widely recognized field of science.
Cassie is a returning member on this year’s iGEM team. As an outdoorsy individual, she often
escapes to the mountains when not busy with school or iGEM. Her indoor activities are no less
adventurous as she engages in a wide range of hardcore hobbies including crocheting and fixing
cars. She has been described as both a nerd and a bookworm, when she finds to be a fitting
description considering her obsession with the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. Solitude and time to
reflect are of great importance to Cassie. Cassie’s one true love is windsurfing and no romantic
partner could ever hope to take its place in her heart. Though she is unable to concoct a decent
cup of coffee, Cassie’s passion for science and her seasoned laboratory skills make her an
invaluable component of the team.
Cassie joined the iGEM team because it offered her a uniquely self-directed research experience that allowed her to interact with a diverse team of enthusiastic students that shared her love for science. In her view, synthetic biology takes all of the most exciting aspects of cellular, molecular, and microbial biology and applies them to creating innovative and creative solutions to real-world problems. As a returning member, she sought to use her past experience on the team to improve the design and implementation of this year’s project whilst simultaneously fostering a fun and companionable atmosphere for everyone on the team.
Christian is a returning member on this year’s iGEM team. In his free time, he writes poetry
and reflects on life’s deep philosophical questions. Having consistently worked in and outside
of the lab, it is hard to find somewhere you won't find his input on this project. He is a
remarkably productive scientist and his laid-back and unguarded personality have lead the newer
wet lab members to view him less as a boss and more as a friend. In fact, Christian is widely
considered to be one of the most emotionally attuned individuals on the team and is quick to offer
support to members when they’re feeling down. In the future, Christian hopes to aid in expanding
the intersection between biology and technology as well as promote the field of synthetic biology
to the next generation of scientists.
Christian joined iGEM because he viewed it as an opportunity to develop his leadership skills and develop a greater sense of autonomy in his work as a biological scientist. The responsibility associated with the creation, execution, and success of an entirely student-lead project proved alluring. In addition, Christian was drawn in by the ability to work with a creative and innovative team of students from fields both within and outside of the life sciences. iGEM introduced Christian to an entirely new field of study that he was not previously aware of and has contributed significantly to his understanding of molecular biology and its real-world applications. Christian plans to continue his studies in graduate school and one day work for a cutting-edge biotech... maybe even the team's.
Mike is a new member on this year’s iGEM team. In his spare time, he can be found
tinkering on the computer creating small video games and other miscellaneous coding projects.
He is particularly interested in how video games can be used as a medium to tell
stories and has published many articles on the topic. Mike’s versatile and immediately
friendly persona have made him a group favourite since the beginning of the team’s formation.
Though he’s involved in a number of scholarly and respectable pursuits, Mike’s prepubescent
sense of humour frequently causes team members to forget that he's a full-fledged adult with
a previous bachelor’s degree under his belt. Mike is unsure of what he’ll be doing ten years
from now but he’s is fascinated at how science can inform the arts and plans to work in a
field that allows him to exercise his combined passion in interactive storytelling and
Mike was roped into iGEM because it seemed liked a rare opportunity to blend his interests in biology and technology. The interdisciplinary nature of iGEM has allowed him to develop not only his scientific expertise, but also his ability to communicate and work in a team. iGEM was particularly attractive to Mike because it radiated an aura of exclusivity and immense difficulty, which only made him want to do it more. It didn’t just open new doors for Mike, it blasted through walls and shattered windows, exposing a wealth of opportunities within the biotechnology sector. Mike considers himself wildly privileged to be a part of the iGEM team and is immensely proud of what the group has been able to accomplish.
Sravya is a new member on this year’s iGEM team. Though this is her first introduction to
synthetic biology, she engaged in an undergraduate research project last summer. Midway through
the summer, Sravya created and subsequently murdered the team’s beloved freezer snowman, Anthony.
Luckily, fellow wet lab members decided to drop the charges and she was able to narrowly escape
being charged for snow-manslaughter. A caring and altruistic individual, Sravya donates her
free time to volunteering at the same hospital where the team works.
Sravya found out about iGEM through Sara, who told Sravya many wonderful things about the team. Sravya was excited to be part of a team that shared her interest and passion for biology and she also wanted to cultivate a close group of friends. Though this wasn’t her first introduction to undergraduate research, Sravya had not engaged in research specifically relating to her field of study and iGEM offered her the perfect opportunity to fill that gap.
Sara is a plant biology major and a returning member on this year’s iGEM team. She possesses the uncanny ability to talk to anyone, anywhere and others are often drawn in by her lively and vivacious personality. Tireless and indefatigable, Sara is a remarkably intelligent and knowledgeable synthetic biologist as well as a gifted violinist, with a passion for Tchaikovsky’s music.
Sara joined iGEM looking for an opportunity to work in an interdisciplinary lab, and she hasn't looked back. She enjoys every hour she spends in the lab, and is excited to pursue a career in research. One day, she plans to make it big in the plant biotechnology industry.
Andrew is a new member on this year's iGEM team. Behind his veneer of goofiness and awful
puns, Andrew is one of the most prolific members of the team, his passion for complicated
mathematics such as PCA and Gauss House will get him very far. He's not afraid to both have
fun and sit down writing proofs about infinite dimensions.
Andrew is the only person who joined iGEM by accident. He was looking to volunteer on his days off and happened across the iGEM Calgary recruitment ad. It took about half the interview before he realized how amazing the iGEM opportunity truly was. Since then hes been hooked.
Prabhu is a new member on this year’s iGEM team. He is the most avant-garde member of the
team and is quick to abandon team trends for fear of being labelled basic (he very much prefers to
remain acidic). He reads voraciously and his backpack is often weighed down by the burden of around
half a dozen books.
Prabhu joined the iGEM team after hearing about it from another member. As a natural extrovert who loves talking to people, he was drawn in by the networking opportunities afforded by the team’s emphasis on human practices and community outreach.
Sarah is a returning member on this year’s iGEM team. She is a huge fan of organization and often
takes the lead on scheduling events, planning projects, and booking external meetings. Her friends would
describe her as a level-headed, natural leader. In the future, Sarah hopes to secure a job at a tech giant.
Sarah joined UCalgary’s iGEM team in 2018 after viewing the team’s poster from the 2017 project, Astroplastic. Ambitious, competitive, and always looking for a new challenge, Sarah was quick to apply. After travelling to Boston for the Giant Jamboree, she was inspired by the diversity of innovative and revolutionary projects she saw, and decided to return for the 2019 season. In addition to contributing to synthetic biology research through technological tools, Sarah wanted to use iGEM as a way to develop and supplement her leadership skills.
Rylan is a new member on this year’s iGEM team and by far the most athletic. He is a mysterious
individual and little is known about him and his origins in small-town Saskatchewan. Team
members have expressed concern for the absurdly high amount of milk he drinks on a daily basis,
but Rylan continually cites the numerous nutritional benefits of his dairy-filled diet.
In addition to his affinity for lactose.
Rylan was interested in joining iGEM because of its multidisciplinary nature. He wanted to find a project where modelling and computer science could be applied to an imminent community issue and believes that our project reflected that. In the future, Rylan plans to delve further into the field of bioinformatics.
Jake is a new member on this year’s iGEM team. Despite his inexperience in the field of synthetic
biology, Jake is unanimously regarded as the most industrious person on this year’s team. When
given a list of project requirements, he has the uncanny ability to understand the fastest and
most effective path to completion and he possesses a superhuman perseverance that allows him to
follow through on projects that others have long since given up on. It’s evident that without
Jake, the team’s dry lab would not have been able to accomplish nearly as much as it was able
to over the past few months.
Jake’s first exposure to iGEM was through one of his second year software engineering classes. Members of last year’s iGEM team gave a talk to the class about their work and it’s student-lead and multidisciplinary nature. The prospect of creating his own projects eventually lead Jake to join the team.
JD is a new member on this year’s iGEM team. Armed with dreams to own an orange orchard,
JD spends his time coding, cultivating friendships,
and taking out stress with martial arts. JD’s inability to comprehend the Window’s
shortcomings with respect to Linux cost him hundreds of hours throughout numerous projects.
JD’s natural leadership qualities have lead him to becoming the de facto chair of all of our
team meetings and he is habitually responsible for checking in on everyone’s progress
and keeping the team on track.
JD joined the iGEM team because he had done some schooling in biology, and was interested in intertwining his love for biology and coding. In JD’s opinion, participating in iGEM was the most useful thing he has done towards his career development. He feels that learning at his own pace and immediately applying his knowledge has allowed him to learn vastly more material than he is able to study in a classroom.
Sebastian is a returning member on this year’s iGEM team. Sebastian’s visionary and
ambitious outlook serves to motivate and inspire fellow team members and he is deeply
committed to the success of both the team and the people within it. Though his hard work is
widely appreciated, team members must periodically step in to stop Sebastian’s workaholic
tendencies from getting the better of him. In regards to his future, Sebastian plans to
pursue graduate studies and eventually secure a PhD. He dreams of one day running his
Like numerous other members on the team, Sebastian was lead to join iGEM Calgary in 2018 due primarily to its interdisciplinary character and the ability to work in a team with people that possess various strengths. Sebastian decided to return to this year’s iGEM team to continue gaining experience in the field of biotechnology. In Sebastian’s view, biotechnology is the industry of the future. He believes that synthetic biology will be play a big role in space exploration as new manufacturing methods become necessary to support the expansion of humanity to other planets.
Jacob is a former member of iGEM Calgary and is now serving his second term as a
teaching assistant for the team. He is an avid learner and is fascinated by the synthetic
biology industry. These days, most of his time is taken up working for a biotech that works
on the biosynthetic production of cannabinoids and other high value plant metabolites.
When he’s not working or reading, he enjoys playing sports and going out with his friends.
Jacob’s long-term goal is to found his own biotechnology company.
Having fallen head over heels for the field of synthetic biology, Jacob wanted to share his knowledge with the team. He enjoys seeing team members grow and develop and is happy to be a part of the process that induces that development. The revolutionary potential of synthetic biology is what drove him towards iGEM and the people he gets to work with are the reason he keeps coming back.
Dr. Marija Drikic
Marija is a new instructor on this year’s iGEM team. Born and raised in Serbia and educated in both
Italy and Canada, Marija is one of the most cosmopolitan additions to this year’s iGEM team.
She was brought on in June to help the team with laboratory procedures but her support for the team
has extended far beyond that. She’s always the first to offer a helping hand and has a substantial
inventory of both scientific and personal advice. As a gifted and charismatic socialite, Marija has
amassed a large network of laboratory personnel through her time as a PhD student and this
network has proven greatly beneficial for the team’s wet lab.
Marija’s long-term career goal is to manage research projects for a biotechnology company.
Marija was an iGEMer in 2012 and that experience influenced her eventual career in research. She became fascinated with synthetic biology and was drawn to its interdisciplinary nature. After having successfully defended her PhD thesis, she came across the job posting for our team’s research assistant role and was quick to apply to re-experience the iGEM competition, this year as in instructor.
Dr. Elke Lohmeier-Vogel
Dr. Lohmeier-Vogel (or Dr. LV as she is called by members of the team) is a returning
instructor on this year’s iGEM team. She is a caring and generous supervisor and is amazing
at proof-reading content written by the team. Originally from Germany, Dr. LV was raised in
Alberta and has spent much of her life here. In her free time, Dr. LV likes to learn new things
to keep her mind strong and agile. Dr. LV’s core values are centered around doing the right
thing. She believes that working for the common good is an important prerequisite to any
scientific endeavour. Outside of iGEM, Dr. LV spends much of her time with her family.
Dr. LV was invited to become part of the iGEM team by Dr. Mayi Arcellana-Panlillio, who she had met at a teaching workshop. Dr. LV was previously engaged in writing reference letters for iGEM students and attended their weekly research seminars before she was invited to be a supervisor for the team. Now that she is retired from teaching, she views iGEM as the perfect opportunity to use her knowledge of biochemistry and microbial physiology to assist students in research that they themselves choose. She especially likes helping the more technological members of the team comprehend concepts in genetic engineering to facilitate collaboration between the wet and dry labs.
Dr. Mayi Arcellana-Panlilio
Dr. Mayi has been an iGEM faculty mentor since 2011. Throughout her academic career, she
has been involved in a variety of scholarly pursuits in fields like neural stem cell research,
cancer biology, and functional genomics. In recent years, her attention has turned to teaching
and inspiring the next generation of biological scientists. Dr. Mayi actively strives to make
a difference in the lives of her students and she is committed to providing opportunities for
them to grow as scholars. Outside of school, she spends much of her time reading and listening
to music. Her greatest source of pride and happiness are her children (a term that encompasses
both her biological offspring and the students that she teaches). iGEM Calgary is incredibly
fortunate to have such a supportive, kind, and warm-hearted instructor.
Dr. Mayi was invited to be an instructor for the team by Dr. Tony Schryvers, who supervised the team immediately prior to her. Her first introduction to iGEM was through one of her students, Emily Hicks, who had given a talk at one of the undergraduate research symposia. It was during this time that Dr. Schryvers asked Dr. Mayi to consider mentoring the team. Dr. Mayi was delighted by the chance to witness entirely entirely student-lead projects in biology. She continues to uphold the importance of autonomy within the iGEM team and never hesitates to offer assistance and guidance when asked.