Biological and Agricultural Engineering

UC Davis wins grand prize in iGEM student design competition


The winning UC Davis team

The International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) student design competition is an international design competition in synthetic biology – a growing area of biotechnology.  This year, over 250 college and community lab teams and more than 2500 people competed in Boston.  There are two divisions “undergrad” and “overgrad” separated by age.   UC Davis won the grand prize in the overgrad division, and were also recognized with an award for “Best Advance in Policy and Practice” which shows that our students reached beyond the science and engineering in structuring their project.  This is a very tough competition with some extraordinary student work by many teams.

BAE junior, Simon Staley, who was one of the winning team members. Also on the team were three BME students: Aaron Cohen, Julie Song, and Lucas Murray.  Students from other academic units were Sarah Ritz, Brian Tamsut, James Lucas from other academic units

The group worked very hard over the summer to show proof of principle for an electrochemical biosensor to detect rancidity in olive oil. For more see:

For more, you can also check out their wiki at:

At the competition the students also made international contacts, received several internship offers, and got a first rate professional experience presenting their work.

The students were judged on their Wiki, a 20 minute oral presentation, and 2-2.5 hour poster sessions.  Panels of judges grilled teams in person on the latter two.  Six finalist teams were nominated – UC Davis was the ONLY US team in the finalist group.  Each of the finalists then had to present again in front of ~2500 people before final judging took place.

Congratulations to the team!