Image Map


Attributions: Brian Teague (Photography), MIT iGEM (Models)

Our team consists of 12 undergraduates and 3 high school students. Check out our bios below!

James Anderson

James Anderson is a rising senior studying Biology and Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences. He is excited to be participating in iGEM because he is interested in the potential applications of Synthetic Biology; an organism's genes are the product of billions of years of evolutionary design, and the opportunity to re-engineer this ancient blueprint for novel functions is something James finds pretty cool. When he's not tooling away at PSets James enjoys backpacking the Appalachian Trail, writing haiku, and creating music. He sometimes makes outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Sometimes he accuses chestnuts of being lazy.

Lyla Atta

Lyla Atta is a rising sophomore who has declared Chemistry as her major, even though she has no idea what she really wants to major in. She is currently considering anything from Courses 20, 3, 5 or 10 to 2 or 6. She is very interested in cellular biology and biochemistry, and especially interested in applications of these areas to neurobiology. At some point in the far (or near?) future she wishes to find science-based answers to questions that were previously thought to be philosophical: what is thinking, understanding and learning? How do all these processes occur in systems that are made up of mere chemicals. MIT iGEM presented a great opportunity for Lyla to get some laboratory experience (which she was in dire need of, having never worked in a lab before) while working on a project she was passionate about with a team of hilariously fun people that she enjoys spending time with. Outside science-related things, Lyla is very interested in education policy and enjoys outdoor activities.

Kathryn Brink

Kathryn Brink is a rising junior at MIT majoring in Biological Engineering. She is excited to be participating in this year’s iGEM competition since she thinks that synthetic biology is a really interesting field with a lot of great applications to medicine, agriculture, and the environment. Kathryn was first introduced to Synthetic Biology through a project-based class where, as part of a team, she designed a genetic circuit to regulate iron absorption in the small intestine, with the goal of helping patients with iron-deficiency anemia. Kathryn was previously an undergraduate researcher in the Ploegh Lab at Whitehead Institute, studying the effects of nanobodies on the activity of glycolytic enzymes from S. cerevisiae. Outside of iGEM, Kathryn is treasurer of Stop Our Silence (a student group concerned with sexual assault awareness), mentors high school girls in science and engineering through the Society of Women Engineers, and is a member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority.

Gary Burnett

Gary Burnett is a rising sophomore at MIT majoring in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering and minoring in Brain and Cognitive Science. He is extremely interested in studying the mechanisms behind how the brain performs computations and applying these techniques to the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Inspired by the technology of science fiction, he hopes that synthetic biology can someday be used to improve the speed and efficiency of traditional hardware systems. iGEM will show him what it is currently possible to achieve using biological engineering, thus laying the foundation for his future research opportunities. Outside of iGEM he is a member of MIT’s Track and Field team, competing in the 400m hurdles. In addition he enjoys playing violin, piano, and guitar in impromptu jam sessions with his friends.

Andrew Chen

Andrew was on our team the summer after his third year of high school as part of the Research Science Institute (RSI) and is now enrolled as an undergrad at Stanford university.

Erik Ersland

Erik Ersland is a sophomore majoring in Biological Engineering. Erik is participating in iGEM because it offers a good opportunity to contribute useful work to the scientific and engineering community and because it provides training and perspective that will help him continue to contribute in the future. Previous experience includes two summers interning at Clearwater Analytics as a software developer and numerous garage based projects. He is interested in research that will improve human quality of life, namely technologies with applications in regenerative medicine. Hobbies outside of iGEM include learning about new things, cooking (often for groups), sewing (things like plushies), and mechanical projects.

Alexa Garcia

Alexa Garcia is a rising sophomore in the Department of Biological Engineering at MIT. A long time ago, she discovered that amongst her many passions, the one that burns the brightest is her desire to heal the earth. And so began her quest: Alexa’s dream of a greener planet, supplemented perfectly by her love for biological studies, has led her into the field of synthetic biology, and consequently, iGEM. With no previous research experience, she eagerly joined the MIT iGEM 2014 team. It is her hope that the iGEM journey will enrich her knowledge and understanding of bioengineering, and better equip her to pursue her own future research. She aims to, one day, engineer an ecofriendly solution to the world’s pollution problem, as well as to promote reforestation and environmental repair efforts in affected areas. Aside from iGEM, Alexa occupies multiple positions on her dormitory’s executive board, is member of Sigma Kappa sorority, and is involved with the Tech Catholic Community. And though all these wonderful activities take up most of her time, one can always be sure to find Alexa doing her favorite thing of all: dancing her heart out, on and off the stage.

Alex Leffell

Alex Leffell is a rising sophomore in the Mechanical Engineering department. His interest in synthetic biology stems from his fascination in the complexity of biological systems and his desire to create them. He enjoys pondering in reverence about the possibilities synthetic biology creates for technology and society. He sees iGEM as a way to be a part of this future. In his free time, you can find Alex tinkering away on a moped or crafting a piece of fine furniture.

Raymond Liu

Raymond Liu is a rising sophomore in Biological Engineering. For him, iGEM is an opportunity to tinker with the idea of designing biological systems with a degree of autonomy he's never had before. Raymond works in the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory in the Xu lab, working on uncovering the molecular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity. At this point, he's not really too sure what he wants to do with his life, but after having lived in 4 different countries in his life, he's comfortable with a bit of flexibility. Whatever it is, it will probably involve biology. Raymond is a tenor in MIT Syncopasian, the campus's East Asian a cappella group.

Raashed Raziuddin

Raashed Raziuddin is a senior at the Advanced Math and Science Academy Charter School in Marlborough, MA, and hopes to study bioengineering in the future. In particular, he loves the idea of using genetics as the code and cells as the technology of the future. Regardless whether that pans out or not, he enjoys nature on a regular basis, going hiking, snowboarding, kayaking, and backpacking.

Christian Richardson

Christian Richardson is a rising sophomore majoring in Biological Engineering and minoring in Mechanical Engineering. He has done research in high school using Dictyostelium as a model organism to screen drugs with potential in treating cancer and developmental diseases, but his research with the iGEM team will be his first experience working in a high end lab on a project of his own choosing. Synthetic biology attracted his interest because it is an exciting emerging field that holds a lot of promise for future therapeutics. He wants to pursue a career in research and development for synthetic biology related therapeutics and believes iGEM is a great way to get a sample of what this career would be like. He enjoys rowing, skiing, kayaking, climbing, backpacking, and generally being outdoors. As a kid he loved building things out of his dad's leftover electrical and carpentry supplies and managed to build, among other things, a 200 meter ranged super soaker, a watermelon trebuchet, and a functioning hover car which was suddenly and mysteriously swallowed by a neighbor's swimming pool. He originally planned not to attend college in favor of a career in emergency medicine, but realized that he can impact many more people with a career developing medical treatments rather than administering them.

Shinjini Saha

Shinjini Saha is a rising sophomore at MIT perpetually questioning her decision to major in Computer Science and Molecular Biology. She thinks the complex workings of a cell are cool, and she thinks that being able to manipulate them is even cooler. She considers iGEM to be a great opportunity to learn the tools and skills she’ll need for world domina—ahem—to master the art of synthetic biology in order to do great things for the world in fields such as cancer research. In her busy-time, she dreads procrastination but does so nonetheless. In her “free”-time, she enjoys sleeping. In her actual free-time, she enjoys making visual and auditory art.

Alex Smith

Alex is sophomore in Mathematics.

Abigail Weiss

Abigail Weiss is a junior in high school. She jointly holds the record for a 30 minute miniprep.

Jiaqi Xie

Jiaqi Xie is a sophomore studying Biological Engineering at MIT. He is interested in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. Given past encounters with computer science, he is excited by the innovative basis of synthetic biology and what it implies for biological system design. The next obvious step seemed to be to pursue iGEM and the opportunity and experience that it promises. Debating between academia and medicine, he is glad for this first extensive foray into biological research. Outside of iGEM, he enjoys playing the piano and helps run the Harvard-MIT Mathematics Tournament.