The University of Texas at Austin :: iGEM Team

What is synthetic biology? What is iGEM?

"Synthetic biology is the design and construction of biological devices and systems for useful purposes." –Wikipedia page

"At the most basic level, synthetic biologists ... want to engineer living cells to do something useful" –BioBuilder

"The International Genetically Engineered Machine competition (iGEM) is the premiere undergraduate Synthetic Biology competition. Student teams are given a kit of biological parts at the beginning of the summer from the Registry of Standard Biological Parts. Working at their own schools over the summer, they use these parts and new parts of their own design to build biological systems and operate them in living cells." –iGEM Foundation

iGEM, the International Genetically Engineered Machine, is a semi-competitive research program in synthetic biology. Teams around the world spend the Spring, Summer, and early Fall building their projects each year and then present at the Grand Jamboree for awards across several categories. Our laboratory hosts the Austin UTexas team each year. In the fall of each year, the iGEM community gathers at an annual "Jamboree" to present their work from the past year. Pre-COVID, World Jamborees were held in Boston. Starting in 2022, they moved to Paris, France. Select students will have a chance to attend this event (at least virtually) to present our team's work.

If you're new to synthetic biology and are interested in learning more about it, check out our SynBio101 page

Interested in joining the UT Austin iGEM Team?

Participating in the iGEM competition is a unique opportunity for undergraduate students to gain research and career skills. iGEM is a science pentathlon! It's part synthetic biology research project, part robotics competition for biology, part entrepreneurial pitch contest, part bioethics course, and part engineering design project. Students are expected to explore their own project ideas, reflect on and explain how their proposed solution to a problem would benefit society, engage in outreach to stakeholders, and operate as a team to complete proof-of-principle research. After working on their research during the spring and summer, teams create a project website and give poster and oral presentations at a Jamboree in mid-fall with >350 teams from all over the world participating.

We are especially looking for NON-biologists to join the team! Maybe you are a design major, maybe pre-law, or a social scientist interested in how technology and science interacts with society. We want you on our 2024 iGEM team!

Click here for more information and application instructions! (link restricted to UT Austin students)

What do our alumni go on to do?

Our iGEM alumni regularly go on to prestigious graduate schools, medical schools, and biotech companies. Recent alumni have gone to Caltech, MIT, Harvard, Rice, Wash U, U Washington, UT Austin, and other prestigious graduate programs. They can also be found at medical schools throughout Texas. Within biotech, they work at companies such as Ginkgo Bioworks, Sanofi, and Zymergen.

Want to Sponsor the UT Austin iGEM Team?

Contact us if you are interested in sponsoring or having your company sponsor the incredible students on our iGEM team. You can also make a tax-deductible donation through our 40for40 giving page at any time. Your donations are used to support travel and participation in the international iGEM jamboree and to provide stipends to students during the summer.

UT Austin iGEM Team Projects and Awards

UT Austin has a long history of participation in iGEM, including:

  • Implementing bacterial photography (the Coliroid)
  • Creating caffeine-sensing and DNA-sensing bacteria.
  • Top 10 undergraduate team and Best Foundational Advance Award in 2022
  • Best Measurement Awards in 2019 and 2012.
  • Earning the top Gold Medal designation eight times.
  • iGEM team students as co-authors on scientific papers.

Click on the links or images below to learn more about their projects!

2023

2023_project.png ASSA-Cin
Search topic 2023 iGEM Team Project
Gold star, favorites Finalist Best Agriculture Project
Gold star, favorites Finalist Best Part Collection
Gold star, favorites Finalist Best Sustainable Development Impact
2022

2022_project.jpg ARROWE
Search topic 2022 iGEM Team Project
Star (full) Top 10 undergrad team
Award Winner Best Foundational Advance
Gold star, favorites Finalist Best Part Collection
Gold star, favorites Finalist Best Presentation
2021

2021_project.jpg OCTOPUS
Search topic 2021 iGEM Team Project
2020

2020_project.jpg Phast-Phage
Search topic 2020 iGEM Team Project
2019

2019_project.jpg Burden-O-Meter
Search topic 2019 iGEM Team Project
Award Winner Best Measurement
Gold star, favorites Finalist Best Foundational Advance
2018

2018_project.jpg BHR plasmid kit
Search topic 2018 iGEM Team Project
2017

2017_project.jpg Yo GABA GABA
Search topic 2017 iGEM Team Project
2016

2016_project.jpg SCOBY Doo
Search topic 2016 iGEM Team Project
View topic Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education paper
2015

2015_project.png Breaking is Bad
Search topic 2015 iGEM Team Project
View topic Applied and Environmental Microbiology paper
2014

2014_project.png GC Expansion Pack
Search topic 2014 iGEM Team Project
View topic ACS Synthetic Biology paper
2013

2012_project.png MAPs and Bioscrubber
Search topic 2013 iGEM Team Project
Bridge Joint with North Carolina A&T
2012 2012_project.png Decaffeination
Search topic 2012 iGEM Team Project
Award Winner Best Experimental Measurement Approach, Americas West
Red star, highlight Advanced to International Jamboree
View topic ACS Synthetic Biology paper
2006 2006_project.jpg Edge Detector*
Search topic 2005 iGEM Team Project
Search topic 2006 iGEM Team Project
Red star, highlight 3rd Place Best System
2005 2005_project.jpg Edge Detector
Gold star, favorites Best Live Demo
Gold star, favorites Best Model-Driven Design
Gold star, favorites Best Proposed Funding Mechanism
2004 2004_project.jpg Bacterial Photography
Search topic 2004 iGEM Team Project
Flag One of five teams to participate in the 1st ever iGEM competition!
Award Winner Grand Prize
View topic Cell paper

2022_team_award.jpeg
2022 UT iGEM team with the Best Foundational Advance Award (Photo: Nolan Zunk, UT Austin)

2019_team_award.jpg
2019 UT iGEM team with the Best Measurement Award for their Burden-O-Meter project

*Credit for iGEM medal images: https://2016.igem.org/Team:UGent_Belgium/Medals

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