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Bringing home the gold: Stony Brook’s iGEM team takes home top prize at Giant Jamboree

Sbu igem 2018 with rettberg 1
Randy Rettberg, president of the iGEM Foundation, with Stony Brook’s 2018 iGEM team

STONY BROOK, NY, December 6, 2018 — Stony Brook University’s International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) team brought home the university’s first gold medal in the iGEM Giant Jamboree, previously winning silver and bronze medals in the annual competition.

Led by sophomores Priya Aggarwal and Matthew Mullin, the team’s project, “The Sucrose Factory,” focused on the use of cyanobacteria to economically sink carbon dioxide by simultaneously producing sucrose that can be used to produce biofuels and bioplastics. Their project proposal was the only one to win all three open competitions offered by the iGEM sponsors Genscript, Opentrons and Promega.

The iGEM competition promotes the advancement of synthetic biology through education and a competition aimed at developing an open and collaborative community of young scientists. Synthetic biology projects developed by previous SBU iGEM teams have ranged from a search for innovative treatments for diabetes and pancreatic cancer, to lowering the cost of vaccine preservation. At Stony Brook, new teams are recruited each year, and members are mentored by students from previous teams and advised by Dr. Peter Gergen, director of Undergraduate Biology and a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology.

In addition to Aggarwal, a human evolutionary biology major, and Mullin, a mechanical engineering major, members of Stony Brook’s 2018 iGEM team are Stephanie Budhan ‘21, Chemistry; Woody Chiang ‘19, Biochemistry and Psychology double major; Dominika Kwasniak ‘20, Biochemistry; Karthik Ledalla ‘21, Biomedical Engineering; Matthew Lee ‘21,  Biology; Natalie Lo ‘21, Biology; Lin Yu Pan ‘20, Health Science; Jennifer Rakhimov ‘21, Biology; Robert Ruzic ‘19, Biomedical Engineering; Manvi Shah ‘21, Psychology; Lukas Velikov ‘21, Computer Science; and Sarah Vincent ‘19,  Biology.

Prior Stony Brook iGEMers have gone on to become Goldwater Scholars, earn Fulbright Scholarships, and are now pursuing advanced degrees at institutions such as Columbia, Cornell, Einstein, MIT, Rockefeller, Stony Brook and the University of Texas.

More details on the team’s project are available on their wiki on the iGEM website.

About Stony Brook University

Stony Brook University is going beyond the expectations of what today’s public universities can accomplish. Since its founding in 1957, this young university has grown to become one of only four University Center campuses in the State University of New York (SUNY) system with more than 25,700 students, 2,500 faculty members, and 18 NCAA Division I athletic programs. Our faculty have earned numerous prestigious awards, including the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Indianapolis Prize for animal conservation, Abel Prize and the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. The University offers students an elite education with an outstanding return on investment: U.S.News & World Report ranks Stony Brook among the top 40 public universities in the nation. Its membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU) places Stony Brook among the top 62 research institutions in North America. As part of the management team of Brookhaven National Laboratory, the University joins a prestigious group of universities that have a role in running federal R&D labs. Stony Brook University is a driving force in the region’s economy, generating nearly 60,000 jobs and an annual economic impact of $4.65 billion. Our state, country and world demand ambitious ideas, imaginative solutions and exceptional leadership to forge a better future for all. The students, alumni, researchers and faculty of Stony Brook University are prepared to meet this challenge.

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