Team:British Columbia/team bios



Tamar Av-Shalom

Computer Science and Microbiology & Immunology

Tamar is a fourth year student in the Computer Science and Microbiology & Immunology combined major. Tamar has been part of UBC iGEM for the past two years, and loves working in the lab and learning about niche new fields in science. She has had a great time working on iGEM projects and plans to continue some of her lab work from 2016 this January.

Tamar plans to pursue graduate studies combining microbiology and computer science. She is interested in using her unique combination of skills to develop new tools for the analysis of biological data.

Outside of school, Tamar enjoys reading, exploring the city to find new places to eat, and making new Amigurumi to add to her collection.

Evan Gibbard


Evan is a third-year Honours Cell and Developmental Biology student who is excited to explore the emerging field of synthetic biology through iGEM. While at UBC, Evan has become increasingly interested in learning about biological systems and their applications. Evan chose to study Biology because he found it fascinating and was amazed at its potential to create change. Outside of iGEM, Evan has explored a variety of research fields, including Paediatric Neurology, Fungal Pathogenesis, Oncolytic Virotherapy, and Oncopathology.

In his free time, Evan loves running through the trails in Pacific Spirit Park, playing piano, and exploring the mountains around Vancouver. Evan is thrilled to be a part of the 2017 iGEM team and looks forward to showcasing their project at The Giant Jamboree.

Christine Kim

Microbiology & Immunology

Christine is a second year Microbiology & Immunology student. Christine joined iGEM to gain insight into the fast-growing world of synthetic biology. Before joining iGEM, she had no idea about how extensive and fastinating the field of synthetic biology could be. She has learned so much about this emerging field through iGEM, and is still constantly learning! She is intrigued by how many things synthetic biology can be applied to and credits iGEM for helping to spark her interest in synthetic biology. She is excited to apply what she has learned about to the project and in the laboratory and show off UBC iGEM's hard work in Boston.

In her free time, she enjoys dog-spotting and finding new places to eat delicious food!

Angel Madero

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Angel is a fourth-year Honours Biochemistry student interested in pursuing a career in research. He joined the iGem team in order to gain experience in synthetic biology and project management. He is most interested in the experimental design of the project, specifically the CRISPR element. During his undergraduate, he has worked at different biochemistry labs in order to gain a diverse variety of skills. Currently, he is interested in the potential applications of proteomic technologies in clinical settings and how new advancements in this field can help understand cancer biology. Outside of school he enjoys hiking, skiing, dancing and climbing.

Maria Mendizabal


Maria Mendizabal is a third-year Biology major with a passion for all things related to microbes and hopes to gain more understanding on how microbial communities interact and the molecular mechanisms that create these behaviours. She joined iGEM because she believes on harnessing the power of microbial communities to make a big impact in our society. The world of microbes is still mostly uncharted territory, and it has endless sources of information that can be used for innovation. She is also dedicated to spreading science literacy and is starting a blog for people who want to know more about microbes. Outside of iGEM Maria loves swimming, and has participated in several competitions. If she is not swimming, she is probably to be found at the beach, enjoying a good book, or at home cooking delicious vegetarian food.

Tarryn Monteiro


Tarryn is a fourth-year Psychology major interested in pursuing a career in clinical sexual psychology. She is dedicated to science communication and the accessibility of knowledge. Synthetic biology is a new and upcoming field that can feel intimidating and overwhelming, however, she believes this can be alleviated with a fundamental understanding of the field. Tarryn is most enthusiastic about the human practices portion of the iGEM team and developing teaching aids that speak to a variety of demographics.

Outside of iGEM, Tarryn enjoys a range of hobbies that spans anywhere from fitness and health to cold-process soap making in her very small kitchen. She has enjoyed stepping into a science lab for the very first time this year!

Benny Lin


Benny Lin is a third-year Honours Biology student, with emphasis to genetics and neurobiology, and he is aspiring to pursue an M.D. after his undergraduate degree. He is eager to explore the clinical applications of synthetic biology. iGEM was Benny's first exposure to the world of research outside of the classroom, and he is thankful to iGEM for "priming" his lab skills and the ability to distill scientific material to the community. He is looking forward in continuing to be part of the iGEM team in the coming years. Outside of school, Benny enjoys playing badminton, making music, and grinding the Grouse.

Catherine Pan

Microbiology & Immunology

Catherine is a second-year Microbiology & Immunology student. She is primarily involved in the artistic aspect, creating posters and videos to promote UBC iGEM and bring more awareness to synthetic biology. Besides designing, Catherine spends time working in the lab. Through iGEM, she was able to have the amazing opportunity to work in a professional lab and learn many new lab skills. In the past year, Catherine has also learned an incredible amount about synthetic biology, which never fails to intrigue her, and she is excited to continue learning even more. Catherine is grateful that UBC iGEM gave her the opportunity to combine her two quite-contrasting passions - design and science!

In her free time, Catherine enjoys playing the piano and has participated in various competitions. She also likes to sketch, oil paint and do gymnastics!

Leif Pedersen

Computer Science

Leif Pedersen is a third year Computer Science student who is excited to explore how computer science can be used in biological systems on this year's iGEM team. Leif believes that experiencing the breadth of computer applications will give him a better perspective on what might be possible. He is eager to help with all the team's programming tasks and to get to try his hand at genetic lab work.

Emma Stanley

Chemical & Biological Engineering

Emma is a third year Chemical & Biological Engineering student. She is currently on a Co-op term doing research that involves optimizing cell therapy processes, and she is hoping to pursue a career in the medical biotechnology field. Emma joined iGEM to gain experience in the field of genetic engineering and engage in science communication outreach. It has given her the opportunity to learn about synthetic biology and work in a microbiology lab, which she wouldn’t have been able to do in her engineering courses. Outside of school, Emma likes to hike, run, and visit her dog.

Mitch Syberg-Olsen

Microbiology & Immunology

Mitch Syberg-Olsen is in his fourth year at UBC studying Microbiology & Immunology. Mitch is interested in exploring as many avenues as he can during his undergrad, to gain a good perspective of the breadth of the biosciences. Because of this, he is grateful for the opportunity to get hands-on experience with synthetic biology through iGEM. Mitch plans to pursue graduate studies related to microbiology to further develop his skills as a scientist and make a positive impact on the world. He also believes strongly in the value of proper scientific communication as technology (and biotech) are increasingly integrated into our lives.

Rodrigo Vallejos


Rodrigo is a fourth-year Biology major, aspiring to further a career in research. He is most passionate about genetics and biotechnology. He believes that with the tools that we have today, we can devise meaningful solutions to serious problems.
This was Rodrigo's first year participating in UBC iGEM, and he has enjoyed and learned a lot throughout the experience.
Outside of the lab, Rodrigo spends a lot of time cooking and is always open to learn new recipes or create his own!

Riley Whittaker

Chemical & Biological Engineering

Riley is a third-year Chemical and Biological Engineering student interested in the development of innovative water treatment technologies. He joined iGEM to discover the endless opportunities that genetic engineering can offer the world. Riley is passionate about furthering science communication and helping with the human practices part of the iGEM team. Upon graduating, Riley is planning on going to law school to become a lawyer. Outside of iGEM, Riley loves to go on hikes, pet dogs and look at exotic sports cars.

Megan Wolf

Chemical Biology

Megan Wolf is a fourth year student in the Chemical Biology Combined Major.  She's excited to be a part of the UBC iGEM team this year and to be involved in such a unique scientific endeavour. The majority of which is beyond the horizons of her field! She has enjoyed seeing the synthetic biology project through all stages, and has especially enjoyed working in laboratory activities.  Outside her academic pursuits, Megan is an avid birdwatcher and loves to travel to new and exciting places.

Graduate Advisors

Ashley Arnold

Microbiology & Immunology

Ashley Arnold is a Masters student in the department of Microbiology & Immunology studying microbial ecology in contaminated soil environments. This is her first year as an iGEM advisor and she’s excited to have the opportunity to both mentor and learn from a group of talented undergrads. When she’s not in the lab, you can find her enthusiastically encouraging her lab mates to listen to her latest podcast obsession, talking about musicals or enjoying the recent work of different science writers.

David Goertsen

Chemical and Biological Engineering

David Goertsen is a Chemical and Biological Engineering Graduate from UBC who is participating in the iGEM team for the second time, but advising for his first time. His main contributions to the iGEM project were fundraising, modeling development, human practices organization and mentoring the CRISPR laboratory project. He is currently working as a Project Manager for Metabolik Technologies, a start-up creating genetically engineered technologies to conduct bioremediation, and recently completed a project with STEMCELL Technologies, working on scalable protocols for human pluripotent stem cell culture. David is currently applying to graduate schools across the world, aiming to obtain a PhD in genetic engineering. Someday, he hopes to start a genetic engineering consulting company.

Kateryna Ievdokymenko

Microbiology & Immunology

Kateryna is a 3rd year PhD student in Microbiology Department and have been mentoring the iGEM team for 3 years now. Kateryna's research focuses on combining environmental genomics with synthetic ecology to build synthetic microbial communities for bioremediation applications. Kateryna mostly helps with a wet lab aspect of the iGEM project.

Kevin Kuchinski

Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Kevin is a Masters student in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the BC Centre for Disease Control where he tracks avian influenza in British Columbia's wild birds. As an iGEM advisor, will advise the team as they plan their laboratory work, learn and master techniques in molecular biology, and design experiments to build and test their prototype.

Connor Morgan-Lang


Connor is a PhD student at the University of British Columbia, pursuing studies in Bioinformatics. He is interested in single-cell genomics in a broad range of environments with impacts in agriculture and medical industries. He is focused in the development of bioinformatic software, with an application on environmental microbiology. Connor is eager to support this year’s iGEM team with Computational Modelling and Web development.

Faculty Advisors

Dr. Steven Hallam Ph.D.

Microbiology and Immunology

Dr. Hallam is a professor with the Microbiology and Immunology department at the University of British Columbia. He is also the director of the Ecosystem Services, Commercialization Platforms and Entrepreneurship (ECOSCOPE) program. His main research areas include microbial metagenomics, construction of environmental genomic libraries, and the generations of computational tools for taxonomic and functional binning, population genome assembly, and comparative community analysis.

Dr. Michael Murphy Ph.D.

Microbiology and Immunology

Dr. Murphy is professor with the Microbiology and Immunology department at the University of British Columbia. His main research area is the investigation of the mechanism of iron uptake and storage systems in bacteria, yeast, and diatoms employed to succeed in iron poor environments. His labs combine structure determination by x-ray crystallography with biochemical and microbial approaches to define the molecular basis of iron uptake and storage.



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