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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, and after the completion of Semester 1 exams, there will be a general recruitment round. Please sign up to the Melbourne iGEM mailing list, below, to be alerted to the latest developments.

What is iGEM?

IGEM logo

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 period leading up to iGEM, university teams use the latest tools from synthetic biology 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 biotech 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 later 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 serve as biological computation platforms  (for more 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.

iGEM allows students to:
  • 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!


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 and several special tracks (e.g. entrepreneurship, software, social policy, etc.). Two examples of possible iGEM teams would include:

1. Standard tracks: In the standard tracks, teams develop iGEM projects for research purposes and to advance science on a foundational or applied level. 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 team Wiki's for examples).

2. Special tracks: the iGEM competition has expanded significantly since its inception, with the addition of several new tracks to capture the enormous growth of synthetic biology. For example, teams can now compete in an entrepreneurship track where they produce not only a scientific advancement, but also a business plan to commercialise the work. The track is aimed at giving students a conducive and educational environment to start a synthetic biology company, and is inspired by the recent boom in the synthetic biology startups (e.g. see Indie Bio).


The next iGEM team will run from Semester 2, 2015 to Semester 2, 2016. In Semester 2, 2015, the team will be organised, the project selected, and the lab set up. During this period, team members will need to work to ensure that the foundations are in place to start significant lab/project work during the summer. A large portion of the practical 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.

What is involved and what is needed?

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

As part of the 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 students with business, law, design, and arts backgrounds are also welcome to participate. 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), witha  general recruitment round after the exam period. Recruitment will be open to all undergraduate and masters students who are available during Semester 2 2015 and the summer of 2015-16. Please sign up below to be notified when the general recruitment opens (also follow us on Facebook). If you have specific questions about iGEM, please direct them to Sean at 

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If you are particularly keen on iGEM, and would like to play a leadership role, we currently require additional members of the executive/leadership team. As part of the team's leadership, you will be in a unique position to mold the team. Duties include:
  1. Helping to set up the team and determining the teams' goals and iGEM track.
  2. Serving as a spokesperson to external parties and academics. This will include recruiting additional academic and graduate student supervisors.
  3. Helping to fundraise for the team, liaising with university and external sponsors.
  4. Helping to recruit new members

Being a founding member of the next iGEM team provides a great opportunity to play a driving role in Melbourne Uni's most exciting student based group. The key requirements for the role is a strong commitment to the team, as well as good communication and leadership skills. If you are interested in playing this role, please email Sean at to express your interest.

Further information

Learn more about iGEM in general at:

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

Also browse the previous Melbourne Uni iGEM team at:

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