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Thank you for your interest in the 2015-16 Melbourne University iGEM Team! 

Please read the information below to find out what iGEM is all about. We are currently looking for members of the leadership team. After the completion of Semester 1 exams, there will be a general recruitment round open. Please sign up to the Melbourne iGEM mailing list, below, to be alerted of this recruitment round.

What is iGEM?

iGEM is a unique opportunity to get involved in an enterprising student research group and make a scientific impact.

iGEM is short for the International Genetically Engineering Machine competition. iGEM is an undergraduate science competition held each September in Boston. In the . leading up to iGEM, university teams use the latest tools from synthetic biology/biotechnology to create a novel single celled organism or “biological machine”. They can also develop synthetic biology computing and lab tools, engage in scientific outreach, and even develop bio-based businesses.

Each year, students from around the globe form teams at their respective universities with the goal of building a biological system or tool, which they present at the iGEM global conference. Students in the past have designed bacteria that produce new types of drugs and biofuels, act as biosensors of toxic pollutants, and even serve  as biological computation platforms  (for examples of past projects, see

iGEM teams manage everything from the conception to the execution of the iGEM project, with the aid of faculty supervisors.

The benefits to participating in iGEM include:
-Get valuable scientific and leadership experience
-Develop a useful, novel biotechnology and gain experience in the latest in interdisciplinary biological research

-Make an impact
-Have fun!

Project and timeline
The next iGEM team will start during Semester 2, 2015. In Semester 2, the team will be organised, the project selected, and the lab set up. During this period, you will need to work with fellow team members on a weekly basis to build the team and ensure that it is ready for lab work during the summer. A large portion of the lab/project work will then take place during the summer of 2015-16. Therefore, to participate in the team you will need to be available during the upcoming summer. Finally, additional work will be carried out as needed during the lead up to the 2016 iGEM conference (the iGEM Giant Jamboree) in September of next year.

Students in the iGEM teams have complete control over the teams’ project and scope. There are many possible projects and types of teams. There are 15 tracks in the iGEM competition. They include 8 standard tracks (foundational advancements, applied advancements in energy/environment/health.etc), and several special tracks (entrepreneurship, software, social policy, etc.). Two examples of possible iGEM teams would include:
  1. Standard track: In this standard tracks, teams develop iGEM projects purely for research purposes. Last year, the Melbourne iGEM team competed in the Manufacturing track, working on a project to develop bacteria capable of producing new types of antibiotics. However, there is enormous variety in the types of problems teams can work on (see past teams' Wiki's for examples).
  2. Special track: the iGEM competition has expanded significantly since its inception, with the addition of several new tracks to capture the enormous growth in scope of synthetic biology. For example, teams can now compete in an entrepreneurship track. Here, teams produce not only a scientific advancement, but a business plan to commercialise the work. The entrepreneurship track thus gives students a conducive and educational environment to start a synthetic biology company, joining the recent boom in the synthetic biology startup scene (e.g. see Indie Bio).

What is involved in what is needed?

We are searching for enthusiastic students with an interest in biotechnology and science. 

As part of the general iGEM team, you would help with the following tasks:

·         Research on the iGEM project ideas. The ideas for the iGEM project are student driven, and team members often need to answer specific research question to design new experiments or come up with new ideas. This will typically involve doing  searches of the literature using Google Scholar or other tools and reading scientific articles.

·         Help with developing experimental methods. The 2014 team has built up a library of protocols and experimental methods. However, the project for 2015 will likely require new methods. You will need to look up protocols in the literature and adapt them to the project requirements.

·         Wet lab work, modelling/computation or engineering design. By joining the iGEM team, you will have an opportunity to participate in the lab and learn many standard techniques in molecular biology. Alternatively, many iGEM teams make use of the skills of engineers, computer scientists, and other non-biological science disciplines.  For example, this may take the form of modeling a biological system using software like Matlab, designing a microfluidic device with biological applications or designing an electrical device which interfaces with a biological system. If you have an interest in interdisciplinary research between your field and biology, it is likely iGEM will be able to accommodate it.

·         The scope of iGEM also extends into non-traditional science areas, including biotechnology entrepreneurship, biotechnology ethics and the law, and science outreach, and so we are actively seeking students with business, law, design, and arts backgrounds. You could, for example, create a business plan for a iGEM-created company, examine bioethics within synthetic biology, or design educational/outreach program for high schoolers.


We are currently seeking members of the executive (see below), but the general recruitment will open after the exam period. Please sign up below for alerts on the latest recruitment activities:

Sign up for Melbourne iGEM recruitment updates

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If you are interested in being a part of iGEM, please email Sean Lowe at for more information.

Further information about iGEM and updates about the recruitment process will also be made available at

Further information

Learn more about iGEM in general at:

Learn about this year’s team by clicking on the links above.

Also browse the previous Melbourne Uni iGEM team at: