We are the iGEM Aalto-Helsinki 2015. We are an interdisciplinary group with a common interest in synthetic biology. Last year's team recruited us so none of us knew each other in the beginning of summer. We set out to create an interesting project, acquire friendships, learn new skills and most importantly, have fun.
Our team is exceptionally interdisciplinary, with people from various fields and plenty of different skills gathered within. We were excited to see how far we can take our project this summer and how to combine all of our skills to produce the best results. While we divided ourselves to subgroups to organize the work load, many of us found ourselves swept away from the original plans to things we'd never imagined doing before. Our project kept expanding with our hunger to do even more and take everything out of our team and this summer.
Here are the members of Aalto-Helsinki 2015, ready bring you the Fuel for the Future!
A friend of mine was a part of Aalto-Helsinki 2014 team and she had a really great experience. When the application period for 2015 started, I figured I might as well try it out: iGEM is a unique project that let’s you get in touch with synthetic biology - something that is not widely studied or taught in the universities in Finland. I thought it would be a great first touch to the field.
I’m a 24-year-old fifth year student in the University of Helsinki. I’ve worked in three different plant-related research groups, mostly plant genetics but also a little with plant pathogens in Arabidopsis. I use my free-time with quality TV series such as Game of Thrones and House of Cards. I desperately want a poodle.
Labwork, labplanning, design and presentation critic with no knowledge of design
It all started on a rainy, gloomy night, when I happened to visit a summer job meetup. Amidst the cool, shiny companies and slick spokespersons stood two figures: Members of the Aalto-Helsinki 2014 team. After describing what sounded like a perfect summer experience, they had the gall to say that the application period was open, and, well, the rest is history. Synthetic biology is not a subject I was familiar with when I applied to iGEM, but since my major is basically a patchwork of different sciences, I decided to apply. And what do you know, it seems I got accepted. At least no one has notified me of the possibility that I shouldn’t be here.
Male, 21 years of age, human-sized. I’m a third year student at Aalto university. On my free time I read books, mostly (science) fiction, as well as watch movies and tv shows. I also like creating solutions to nonexistent problems.
Modeling, fundraising, member of the council of bad jokes
The Aalto-Helsinki 2014 team got me really interested in iGEM. I figured the potential of synthetic biology in medicine is enormous, so it would be nice to learn to better understand it. Besides that, I applied for our iGEM team because I wanted to try something completely different, get to meet great people and have a fun summer. I had big expectations, but I still learnt much more than I could have imagined!
I'm starting the 3rd year of my medical studies and my 4th year in molecular biosciences. I have worked in a couple of research groups, studying serological antibody detection, mammalian signaling pathways and cancer gene therapy. I like spreadsheets and cycling. I'm also fairly excited about urban planning.
lab/modeling mediator, human practices and a bit of lab planning, among other things
I knew people from last year's team and their summer seemed amazing. I could be doing mindless factory work or tackling interdisciplinary problems with other students! Synthetic biology is a pretty new and exciting challenge for me, but I’m used to working with varying scientific fields. And we can tailor this summer to our interests and skills, what could be better?
I’m starting my fifth year in Chemical Engineering, with graduation creeping terrifyingly close. I’m aiming for product development to fill the world with foods I like. Outside iGEM work, I like gaming and crafts although I have a bad habit of juggling five projects simultaneously.
Funding, design and some coding, poking my finger in all the other things as needed
My first touch with iGEM happened around one year ago. I saw a sticker of an Aalto-Helsinki bacterium during an event. I checked their web page, but the topic didn’t really fit in to my studies. However, the team got me excited about iGEM during a big University event. I didn’t have any more knowledge of synthetic biology than basics of biology from high school. I decided that this was a once in a lifetime chance and I can’t wait and the things I don’t know, I’ll learn.
I’m a 24-year old student from Aalto University. My studies are strongly related to the environmental perspective in the industry. I’ve participated in several multidisciplinary projects and I find it fascinating to work with different people. The nature is close to my heart and there is nothing better than capturing beautiful pictures while walking in the forest. Additionally, table tennis has had a big part in my life.
Organizing project funding and travel schedule for Boston, photographing and creating visuals, once in a while visiting lab… for photos
When I first heard of iGEM the idea of creating something new without anyone telling you what to do fascinated me. I ran into my tutor (who was part of the first ever Aalto-Helsinki team) at a dinner party last autumn and his stories about “learning tons of new things” and “the best summer ever” made iGEM sound just the perfect way of spending a summer. So, when the application period finally started I rushed to write the most enthusiastic application I’ve ever made in my life and here I am now. I really feel that my biotechnology studies have been in a good use during the summer as I wanted, but working with our own, super interesting propane project has taught me more that I could have imagined at the beginning!
I’m a 23-year-old student from the University of Helsinki. I’ve been studying for four years - one of them abroad and gotten more and more interested in my field when learning more. On my freetime I enjoy doing all sorts of things from having a good time with my friends to doing sports.
lab, lab planning every now and then, social media
Applied mathematics is of no use if you don’t have the field of application. I had never thought of synthetic biology beforehand, but as soon as I heard about this it got my interest. Complex biological reactions to model, who wouldn’t like the sound of it? Turns out it was really interesting and a bit more of a challenge that I thought. I think there is some kind of conspiracy of biologists in regarding the naming of the enzymes.. Why can’t you guys think of different names for enzymes that have completely different structure and performance?
I’m 23-year-old applied mathematics student from University of Helsinki, where I’m currently pursuing my master’s degree. Besides maths I enjoy reading and handcrafts, and when there isn't too much snow I like to go to my summer cottage.
Modeling, coding wiki and web page
One day I got an email about iGEM from the mailing list. I have always wondered how I could combine biology and physics as I like both subjects. They give a different perspective to nature which is why I study them as my majors. As I read more about iGEM, I got more interested in synthetic biology. Synthetic biology seems to be a solution to my problem. That's why I feel so lucky that I have been chosen to be a member of this year's iGEM team as I now have the possibility to learn about synthetic biology in practice.
I’m a 4th year biology and a 3rd year physics student. My ultimate goal is to get a doctoral degree from both. It seems ambitious but I want to do a research on both subjects. I also like to watch sports, such as athletics and football, and I occasionally play badminton.
Lab, constant checker and bioinformatics.
Last year, I read about synthetic biology and iGEM-foundation from the bachelor’s thesis of my friend who told me that the first Aalto-Helsinki team was found. The field seemed novel and my studies contained only a couple laboratory lessons with recombinant techniques. However, the application period for the first team had already been closed so I had to wait a year before the new attempt.
I’m a 23-year-old chemical engineering student and started my final year in Aalto University. Although the current iGEM-project is heavily related to the research work, my intention is to focus more on process designing after graduation. My hobbies vary a lot and depend on the current life situation: last spring I got bored with Krav Maga and now I’m planning to start rock climbing during next autumn.
Lab work, lab planning, some funding
Last year a friend introduced me to synthetic biology, and I was mesmerized about the advancements this field was bringing to humanity. I thought then that IGEM, currently the biggest international competition in synthetic biology, would be an exciting place to get introduced to the area, since it connects people from so many backgrounds, not only biology students. I am so passionate about mathematics, and it makes me happy every time I see the impact it causes in the lab work.
I have lived on Ilha do Governador, an island almost forgotten by the government of Rio, Brazil, for almost all my life. “All my life” has therefore felt like an eternity - I wanted to meet different people with diverse backgrounds and experiences to share, and I constantly sought for this in that small island. My quest was insatiable, and in 2013 I decided to start my bachelor’s degree in mathematics in Finland. This February, when I was 19, I finished my Bachelor of Science, and this semester I am coming back to work as a consultant in Brazil, where I expect to help solving big problems affecting the country.
Modelling, programming and once in a while visiting lab.
There was never any other option for me, I was (quite literally) born for this! I want to save the day and show everyone how great synthetic biology is. I love meeting new people, so I make sure to travel with the team whenever possible.
I'm an adventurous creature who has synthetic biology close to heart. I love spending time with my team mates and advising them if they have some difficulties regarding their project. My favorite place is high up on the shelf so I can oversee everything that happens in the project. I'm quite photogenic, so you can see me all over the teams' blogposts and wiki. You may even see me in their contact cards. Come and get your own!
Motivating the team to reach their very best. And looking soft.
Markus Linder is a professor at Aalto University in the Department of Biotechnology and Chemical Technology and active part of Finnish synthetic biology research. He is mentoring team Aalto-Helsinki for the second time this year.
Heli Viskari is a teacher at Aalto University and is working in Markus' group. She's our indispensable instructor and has been there to help us with the everyday problems, like ordering equipment and reagents and building the project, even during her vacation.
We spent our summer working in the Aalto University labs, where we had one bench for ourselves. Rest of the team worked in a nearby student HUB on the comfy sofas, fighting against the eternal shortage of wall sockets. We also got to use some equipment at VTT next door.