Team:Florida Atlantic/Team


Florida Atlantic Team

The OwlGEMS team is a multidisciplinary group of graduate, undergraduate, and high school students from Florida Atlantic University focused on using synthetic biology, genetic engineering, and machine learning to create innovative solutions for real world problems. This year, OwlGEMS is tackling the problem of counterfeit medicines, which lead to many deaths per year in the developing world and contribute to the development of drug resistance. The overall goal of this project is to create a biosensor that binds to artemisinin sensitively and specifically, while still being flexible enough to use without access to specialized training or equipment. We hope our machine learning protocol will be integral in the development of our biosensor, and that other groups will be able to use this protocol to validate their novel proteins.

Dr Nwaduito Esiobu

Dr. ‘Diuto Esiobu is a widely published Professor of microbiology and biotechnology at Florida Atlantic University where she developed a thriving research laboratory for graduate and undergraduate students to conduct research in advancing rapid detection of microbes using synthetic biology; understanding factors that shape the human and plant microbiomes employing metagenomics as well as defining environmental health status with eDNA and shotgun sequencing. In addition to these broad research pursuits, she has developed and taught many causes in microbiology, biotechnology and genetic engineering in the US and overseas. She has served in senior leadership roles in academia, industry, and governments, including the Africa Union and the US government; in critical decision-making platforms on global food security and international health. A passionate advocate for the application of science in solving real life challenges, Dr. Esiobu has championed the creation of scientific enterprises and various students’ clubs, including Applied Biotech Inc, Catch- them-Young, and Health Science students’ club. She founded the OWLGEMS – (a multidisciplinary team of scholars bonded by a strong passion to improve lives across the globe via cutting edge scientific innovations) - which is scheduled to feature the Florida Atlantic team at the 2017 iGEM competitions. Her role as the PI of the project is to conceive and develop various facets of the project, recruit other instructors and student participants, guide and supervise the execution of the research in a compliant environment. The main goals of our iGEM project include to a) design a genetic machine frame that generates any desired (synthetic) protein in sufficient doses before popping the host cell b) create a machine learning protocol to guide the construction of a novel biosensor protein that binds artemisinin for example c) synthesize a novel, cheap and highly specific protein with a detector system for use as biosensor. Dr. Esiobu loves music, singing and travelling. She plays the guitar and enjoys and meeting new people and learning about new cultures. She was named a Legacy-Maker- One of 100 most influential women in the history of Florida Atlantic University in 2016

Dr Mirjana Pavlovic

I am essentially MD, PhD with strong interest and implementation in Bioengineering at FAU. I have developed several courses in that field including Introduction to Bioengineering, Tissue Engineering, and Stem Cell Engineering. My interests include structure, function and pathogenicity of Anti-DNA autoantibodies in autoimmune diseases (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus), basic mechanisms in stem cell dynamics, application of stem cells in tissue engineering, and autism. I am the author of 5 books and over 80 chapters in those fields and numerous articles in peer reviewed journals. My role in OWLGEM project as co-Pi is to co-supervise the student participants within the program developed by PI.

Dr William Hahn

William Edward Hahn graduated from Guilford College in 2008 with a B.S. degree in Mathematics/Physics and research focus in neural networks/particle swarm optimization. After Guilford, William researched artificial intelligence and immune systems at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro before joining the Center for Complex Systems and Brain Sciences at Florida Atlantic University in 2011. In 2014, William co-founded the Machine Perception and Cognitive Robotics Laboratory with the purpose of building a team of creative scientists, programmers, and engineers to develop novel hardware/software environments that allow the exploration of the intersection of perception, computation, and robotics. In the Summer of 2016, William received a Ph.D. for his work in Sparse Coding and Compressed Sensing, and in the Fall 0f 2016 was hired as Research Scientist to continue his work in the MPCR Lab.

Michael Teti

Michael joined the MPCR lab in February 2015 and received his undergraduate degree in Biology from Florida Atlantic University in August 2016. Before joining the MPCR lab, he modeled the propagation of invasive species throughout Lake Okeechobee and the Florida Everglades in the FAU Geoscience Department. He has since combined cutting edge, neurally-inspired methods in machine learning with his knowledge of remote sensing and GIS to create new ways to solve geospatial problems, such as land cover classification of aerial photographs and autonomous tracking of animal species using drones. Besides working on novel applications for machine learning algorithms, he has also worked to develop new algorithms in the areas of sparse coding, compressive sensing, and locally-competitive neural networks. He believes machines can do anything and is also the CTO of VoxelRx, LLC, an offshoot of the lab dedicated to performing medical imaging using machine learning.

Douglas Holmes

I received a BS in biology and a BA in physics at FAU, as well as a biotechnology certificate. I am currently in my final year of the Master’s program at FAU, developing surrogates for Ebola gene sequences that can be used in BSL-2 settings. I hope to find a job in industry as a research technician or research assistant after graduation. I am an avid reader and gamer, and just recently finished reading H.P. Lovecraft’s The Shadow over Innsmouth.

Rachel Vanzant

Hi my name is Rachel VanZant. I have a BS in biological sciences from Florida Atlantic University. I am one of the lead students for Florida_Atlantic. I have been conducting research in microbiology alongside Dr Esiobu for over a year now. My research has been focusing on synthetic biology.

Karim Dawkins

I am a 1st year Ph.D. student in the Integrative Biology program at FAU and I study the role of microorganisms in exotic plant invasion. I am also involved in different aspects of applied microbiology research involving Citrus greening disease and antibiotic resistance in recreational beaches among others. I am also the treasurer of the SEFS-ASM Microbiology Club and I am currently involved in fundraising activities for the club and OWLGEMS.

Valentina Buitrago

B.A Psychology with Minor in Biology & Health Administration. OWLGEMS Funding Team Leader. Valentina is a senior of Florida Atlantic University, she plans to study abroad in university of Northumbria, Newcastle UK. She loves being part of the microbiology club, she enjoys watching documentaries about history and is very health oriented. One of her favorite courses during her undergrad was microbiology lab, she enjoy analyzing bacteria and understanding it different compositions. She is perusing entering Nova Southeastern University School of Osteopathic Medicine. Overall, she is delighted to be part of OWLGEMS and admires all her colleagues for their work and enthusiasm in the project, as well as their intellectual qualities.

Roberto Ramirez

My name is Roberto Ramirez, I was born in Bogota, Colombia. my mother was a dentist and my father had studied agronomy. in 2001 our family emigrated to the United States leaving everything in hopes for a bright new future. I was accepted to Florida Atlantic university and graduated with my B.S in Biology. I'm currently attending a masters program for Biomedical sciences at Barry university in hopes to later go on into dental school, following my mothers footsteps.

Sherlee Rivera

Ello! My name is Sherlee Rivera. I am a senior at Florida Atlantic University pursing my Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences. I mostly work with fundraising, social networking and anything else my fellow team members need help in. I enjoy traveling (when my bank account allows it which is rare (。゚・(>﹏<)・゚。), reading, being outdoors, watching anime when I want to relax and can play the flute and alto saxophone. Currently trying to learn to play the ukulele and watch documentaries this summer. I always had a fascination with science as a little girl. My interests in science are all over the place but I can firmly say that I have a major interest in infectious diseases, epidemiology and public health. I'm excited to see what new doors of opportunity come along with being a part of iGEM. Even though a friend of mine introduced me to the team and our project, I can't wait to apply what I've learned and grow more as a person.

Abrian Miller

Undergraduate student pursuing Bachelor's degree in Biology. Abrian is a crucial computational biology team member. He plans to get a master in biotechnological studies with a focus in molecular medicine. HIs passions lie in challenging the research frontiers of molecular biology.

Rachel St Clair

Rachel St Clair is a undergraduate student graduating with her degree in Biology from FAU in 2017, of who joined Owlgems team in Summer 2017 to help in biological systems applications of deep learning tools. She believes interdisciplinary fields are the forefront of scientific research and discovery. Rachel has aided in the development of applications in our long-short term memory neural network model. She is a dedicated student to the advancement of the biomedical engineering field. Rachel plans to receive her Master's in Biomedical Engineering in California in 2018.

Arianna Staton

Hello! I’m Arianna and I am a senior at a high school near FAU. This is my first year participating in the iGEM competition, and I am super excited! I love working on this project, whether it be managing social media accounts, fundraising, or lab work. This project is super cool, and I hope to continue participating in the iGEM competition in years to come.