Alma College’s first iGEM team won a silver medal at the 2019 Giant Jamboree for their project focusing on heart disease. 

What is iGEM?

The International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition is an independent, non-profit organization focused on building a better world through cooperation, collaboration, and friendly competition.

Each year, iGEM hosts a competition which gives students the opportunity to solve problems in their communities with the help of synthetic biology. Every year nearly 6,000 students spend the summer designing, building, testing, and measuring systems of their own design. They come together in the fall to present their work at iGEM’s annual Giant Jamboree.

Dr. Devin Camenares, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry, serves as the iGEM coordinator for Alma College. Dr. Camenares has been involved with iGEM since 2005 and served as a judge and faculty mentor at Kingsborough Community College before coming to Alma in 2018.

The Giant Jamboree

Each year, iGEM gathers teams together to celebrate achievements, showcase projects from participating teams, and award medals, prizes, and the grand prize, the BioBrick trophies.

Prizes are awarded in the following tracks: best diagnostics project, best energy project, best environment project, best food & nutrition project, best foundational advance project, best information processing project, best manufacturing project, best new application project, best therapeutics project. Prizes are also awarded in the following special tracks: best open project and best software project.

Additionally, special prizes are awarded to the most innovative and unique contributions to iGEM.

See the complete list of the 2019 iGEM competition results.

What Students are Saying

“The iGEM journey is all about collaboratively working through adversities that are encountered in any research project, and I am proud of myself and the rest of the team members under the guidance of Dr. Camenares for the excellent work done throughout the whole year. It was an honor to be a part of such an innovative extracurricular experience, and I know in the near future that team Alma will be a driving force in the development of synthetic biology in the Michigan community.”

-David Viguilla, Senior, Biochemistry

“My experience at the Jamboree was awesome! It felt great to be able to represent Alma College in such a positive way and to be able to get such a good reception from those who judged the outcome of our overall project. I believe our team, as a whole, accomplished a great deal this year at the Jamboree, and I have been looking forward to going back next since [it] ended. I think the Alma iGEM team has a bright future, and with the help of Dr. Camenares and all of the current and future team members, the possibilities of this team are endless.

-Kaleb Ramon, Junior, Biology

“This was a once in a lifetime experience! It has taught me how to work with fellow peers, [who] are in different fields, towards a central goal…Overall, iGEM speak to what Alma College is as a liberal arts college, connecting fields and their ideas to create an overarching project. This experience has been essential to my future as a graphic designed; it allowed me to demonstrate that I [can] coordinate with clients to get projects done and that I am able to work with peers from all different fields…”

-Whitney Miller, Senior, Art/New Media Studies

“Seeing all the hard work that everyone put into the project and being able to say that we beat schools such as Michigan State, University of Michigan, and Ohio State makes me really proud to be a Scot!”

-Abbey Killian, Sophomore, Biology