Team:Purdue/Introduction/The 2014 Purdue Biomakers


The Biomakers

Chris Thompson

Chris is a junior in Biological Engineering and is getting a Certificate in Entrepreneurship at Purdue University. This is actually Chris’s 5th year in iGEM! Chris was part of the very first high school iGEM competition in 2011, and has been involved ever since. Along with iGEM, Chris is also president of Purdue NORML, a cannabis legalization club on Purdue’s campus. After he graduates, Chris plans to work for NORML and start an industrial cannabis production company, and wants to sell name-brand cannabis products around the world. When he’s not bent on taking over the world, Chris loves to read, play with his kitten Scout, and waste time on the internet.

Charlotte Hoo

Charlotte is a junior in Biomedical Engineering from the Windy City (Chicago), which is fitting because she loves to sail! Despite her passion, she is very afraid of deep water, an interesting mix… Charlotte has an identical twin, so if something ever goes wrong, it was her twin’s fault! If Charlotte is not running or biking, you can probably find her eating, thinking about what to eat, or sleeping. Did you know that Charlotte can breakdance? Probably not, because she can’t. But learning to breakdance is on her lifelong agenda!

Peter Mercado-Reyes

Peter is a senior in Biochemistry and entrepreneurship. He thoroughly enjoys a good drama series like House of Cards, Ray Donovan, and The Mentalist. Peter likes to go to the gym, stroll around campus on late nights, and chill on weekends. He's had a variety of internships at institutes, corporations, and universities but overall thinks he’ll end up starting multiple businesses with his friends. Peter learned this about himself after working with iGEM as treasurer! His life goal is to retire his mom, move to Dominican Republic and live off the land. If you really want to bond with Peter, find an isolated spot and an stimulating topic and he’ll be yours for life.

Ryan Wagner

Ryan is a senior in Biological Engineering. He has been on the iGEM team since sophomore year, where he worked on the Human Practices aspect of the project. Originally from sunny Fort Lauderdale, he enjoys fishing, wakeboarding, going to the beach (which sadly isn’t much of an option in Indiana), and working out. He also really enjoys cooking and grilling. His specialty? Steak and guacamole.

Nidhi Menon

Nidhi (also called Needy by her International friends, just because) is now a senior, majoring in Biological engineering and minoring in Biotechnology. Over summer, she worked at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, raising polyclonal antibodies against GAPDH(a glycolytic enzyme found in the Plasmodium genus that causes malaria). She’s originally from one of the most fun to be places in the world- Mumbai, India. She plays Badminton with the Purdue Badminton Club and occasionally enjoys swimming, volleyball, soccer, and basketball. Don’t be deceived by her tender looks, she has a blue belt in Karate and does not hesitate in showing off her skills. (This is subtle warning for Chris). She enjoys adventure sports and has been river rafting, skydiving, paragliding, and mountain biking! She also plans to go Scuba diving in the following year! Apart from having a keen interest in Forensic science and Genetic engineering, she also enjoys history, exploring new places, and learning new languages. She is fluent in English, Hindi, Marathi, Malayalam and French, and is now in the process of learning Arabic. She loves animals and has had a little red crested bulbul, a European shorthair, and a Labrador as pets. She was also lucky to pet a good number of Swiss mice she worked with over the summer but had to end up sacking them herself. :(

Swetha Vinjimoor

Swetha Vinjimoor is a senior in Biological engineering. This is her second year on the iGEM team and she is the Policy and Practices Chair this year. She has worked with the Policy and Practices team to develop several projects this year with a bigger audience and a more in-depth focus on the project's regulations and applications. She particularly enjoys singing Indian Classical music and has given vocal performances all around the world (California, Ohio, India, etc). A crazy fact about her: She has never had meat in her life (ever!), and is actually pretty proud of it.

Betsy Benner

Betsy is a senior in Biological engineering and this is her second year on the iGEM team. Last year she worked mainly on the human practices aspect, and enjoys continuing to help with their projects while also being more involved with the science aspect of this year’s project. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, running, and watching movies.

Sriram Boppana

Sriram is a sophomore at Purdue University and is planning to pursue the pre-med track, and major in Biomedical Engineering. He is from the suburbs of Chicago and has not explored the city enough or had any famous Chicago style Pizza and is shameful for it. This is currently his first year in iGEM and he is acting as its Chief Liaison. In addition to being liaison of iGEM, Sriram served as a project leader for EPICS at Purdue University where his team designed engineering based projects to foster the growth and development of practical and computational skills for local Junior High School students before they transition into high school. His goals in life are to become a doctor studying medicine and to engage in Biomedical research for the National Institute of Health. In his free time, he enjoys hanging out with friends, watching Doctor Who on BBC America, and occasionally talking to himself (joking of course, or is he..?).

Joe Muskat

Joe is a sophomore in Biomedical Engineering which he hopes to further regenerative medicine in. This is the first year Joe has participated in iGEM at any level, and has a background waiting tables at a Japanese Steakhouse while making donuts around 5 in the morning elsewhere. Hailing from the Mid-West city of Plainfield, Indiana, Joe has had contact with crops throughout his life. He enjoys spending time with friends all over the country both online and in person along with various forms of water sports and music. Joe keeps a firm grasp on current medical technologies and is looking forward to utilizing the biological-medical forefront to improve the quality of life for us humans. He also has an extreme interest in game theory and plays the ocarina.

Casey Martin

Casey is a sophomore in Agricultural Engineering with a focus on Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering (ie, she wants to be an environmental engineer while earning one of the longest-titled majors). This is her first year on iGEM after three years of lifeguarding and teaching swim lessons. Currently hailing from Colorado (yes she knows what was recently made legal; no, you do not need to ask her about it or give a “knowing” look; yes, the mountains are very pretty you should visit), she has also lived in California (California girls come in beach tanned but also glow-in-the-dark pale with beautiful porcelain skin), Texas (stop making fun of it, it’s really not that bad y’all), and Georgia. She loves animals (see, above, environmental engineering), reading (see, above, engineering), swimming/scuba diving (see, in past and dive book, 10 years on swim team and multinational scuba dives), and eating fruit (see, in apartment, fridge half filled with watermelon, Fuij apples, Braeburn apples, red grapes, and bananas). She spends her time working, reading, practicing karate (it’s Key-Iy, not Hi-yah!), hanging out with her boyfriend, watching movies in the cult-like environment of the iGEM team, and trying to cook without inflicting serious bodily harm or burning down the apartment (enjoying moderate success thus far). In the future, she plans to become an environmental engineer to fix environmental problems (possibly with techniques such as synthetic biology) and help the world get/stay clean “for [at least] ten minutes!” like Mr. Incredible.

Hailey Edmondson

Hailey Edmondson is a sophomore in Plant Genetics, Breeding, and Biotechnology, making her the token non-engineer on this year’s team. In her first year on the iGEM Team, she is enjoying a well-rounded summer internship experience, which has been instrumental in “making both friends and mistakes,” in the words of fellow intern Mark Aronson. Originally from San Diego, a city which everybody should visit at least once in order to get a personalized tour from Hailey, she enjoys the outdoors, spending time with friends and family, and baking a variety of sweet treats, which she may just share with you if you ask nicely. Her career goals include being a scent developer for the luxury candle company Yankee Candle, but she will likely settle for a career in scientific research in plant biology and biotechnology.

Tianyu Tan (Goes by Tony)

A new member of the Purdue iGEM team, Tony is in his second year of college, pursuing a degree in Chemical Engineering with a minor in Computer Science. He came to Indiana from Beijing, China at the age of six. Since then, he has tried his hand at mastering many skills from playing the piano to becoming a Pokemon champion (both of which are ongoing goals). Some of the things Tony enjoys are creative infographics, Rube Goldbergs, free food, and the oxford comma. If you ever catch him in vivo, Tony is usually exchanging bad puns with friends, procrastinating on dishwashing, humming Chopin to himself, biking to his next destination, or behind an LCD screen. As of now, he is planning to go into either pharmaceuticals or materials with his major, since he is as excited about chemistry as he is eager to share jokes about molecule names such as "thebacon."

Mark Aronson

Mark is a sophomore in Biological Engineering, a major which he decided on by throwing a dart at a poster of all college majors that his guidance counselor had hanging up in her office. As a first year intern for the Biomakers, he spends the majority of his time mindlessly following the directions given to him, being picked on by Chris, and giggling at inappropriate times. In his free time, he can be found swimming, running, playing the clarinet, eating burritos, perusing catalogs of discontinued IKEA furniture, questioning whether the world he experiences is real or if it is just made up in his head and we are all experiencing our own dream-state realities and that maybe all of this is just a simulation inside his own mind and you, your family, and your long deceased pet capybara are all not real and we should just curl up in the fetal position and accept the innate meaninglessness of our supposed existence, and watching movies. His life goal is to win the Ellie badge, but, if that doesn’t work, he’s willing to settle for something with less clout, like the Nobel Prize or a MacArthur Genius Grant. One time, someone asked Mark if he would give them a nickel. Mark replied that this kind of decision was not something you could just ask someone out of the blue and that he would have to take some time to think about it, at least a day or two. It has been eleven years and Mark still hasn’t made up his mind.

Joshua Saliutama

Joshua is a junior in Biochemistry. He came to United States 4 years ago and transferred to Purdue 6 months ago (he has a complicated life timeline). He is currently a STAR Ambassador under Student Success at Purdue and is going to be a BGR Team Leader this coming fall. He prefers outdoor stuff (from swimming to roller-blading) to indoor stuff (they are boring, y’all!). He is passionate and willing to do anything to help the Biomakers’ Human Practices team.

Deborah Lee

Deborah is a sophomore in Chemical Engineering, with the concentration of Biological Engineering. This is her first year being involved in the iGEM, as a member of the Human Practice Team. She loves peaches, frozen yogurt, and peach frozen yogurt. Other than eating dessert, Deborah also enjoys running and traveling.

Zach Oberhaus

Zach (yes, that’s with a -ch) is a sophomore in Biological Engineering. He hails from the less-than-ideal city (conglomeration of dwellings?) of Toledo, Ohio. This, obviously, is his first year on the Purdue iGEM team and specifically is working on the Human Practices team. Besides iGEM, Zach enjoys watching sports, listening to music (don’t ask, you definitely haven’t heard of any of these artists before), parasailing, and creating his own jigsaw puzzles. Above all, Zach is a devout Zoroastrian and can speak Dothraki (but please don’t ask him to talk about his religion or speak Dothraki).

James Welch

James is a sophomore in Cell, Molecular, and Developmental Biology with plans to transfer into Synthetic Biology when it becomes available. He is from the beautiful city of Madison, Wisconsin, and of course considers himself a cheesehead. Being his first year working with the Purdue iGEM team, James works with Human Practices on their various projects. Besides iGEM, James works in Dr. Kasinski’s lab during the summer. He is also addicted to Netflix, and probably spends too much time watching bad television. James also loves food, music, and a good book.

Michael Drakopoulos

Michael is a sophomore majoring in Biomedical Engineering. He’s from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but doesn’t really follow the Packers or the Brewers. Michael likes outdoor activities like camping, hiking, and cycling. He especially likes swimming, sailing, and windsurfing, which is great because his dad’s side of the family is from Greece and he goes there every once in a while. Michael only speaks a little bit of Greek though, since he focused on learning Spanish instead.

Jacob Carmen

Jacob is a sophomore in chemistry going for a minor in computer science. In addition to being an integral part of the Purdue iGEM team, he is also the treasurer of the Purdue Juggling and Unicycling club (although he can't unicycle!) He is interested in biogerontology and the molecular basis of aging through which he intends to become the immortal benevolent dictator of the world until he retires from the job in favor of playing a ton of old videogames. He likes broccoli on his pizzas and pretzels on his blueberry bagels.

Arren Liu

Arren’s a sophomore in Biological Engineering with a focus on Cellular and Biomolecular Engineering. He’s from Newbury Park, California and was inspired to go into Biological Engineering mainly due to the fact he lives less than five minutes away from the biotech company, Amgen. If you can’t find Arren in his room, or hanging out with friends, there’s a large chance that he’s probably doing something for iGEM. Arren enjoys being creative and adventurous and swam in shark-infested waters when he was twelve and also swam with whale-sharks a few years ago. Arren hopes to have a career as a lead researcher in genetic engineering and hopes to clone a dinosaur… or possibly make Godzilla.

Gavin Kuziel

New to the Purdue iGEM team this past year, Gavin is now in his second year of university pursuing a degree in Biomedical Engineering. Fascinated by the progress inherent in bioengineering and its role in regenerative medicine, Gavin is inspired by the amount of sheer potential that iGEM holds in helping overcome many of the challenges that currently obstruct human societal progress. When not participating in TEDxPurdueU events or mentoring the HS iGEM team he helped found this past year with the aid of the Purdue Biomakers, Gavin can either be found cycling or participating in research with Dr. Riyi Shi, analyzing the biomechanics of neurotrauma induced by explosive blast.