Team:Harvard BioDesign/Team

Prologue by HTML5 UP

We are the Harvard iGEM team of 2015.

Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.
-Vincent Van Gogh

The Students


Ethan Alley grew up beneath the blue sky of Albuquerque, NM, where he became accustomed to greasy breakfast burritos, eye-watering cowboy coffee, and long drives. A sophomore, Ethan studies biology and computation and began his microbiology career culturing bacteria off of household surfaces. He is interested in applying nature's design and the tools of computation to the technical challenges of sustainability. When not juggling protein gels or scribbling in his lab notebook, Ethan can be found listening to podcasts, walking around outside, or drowning black beans in Sriracha hot sauce.

Lydia is a rising sophomore at Harvard College concentrating in Applied Mathematics. She is from New York City and attended Stuyvesant High School, where she was active on the New York City Math Team. She has previously conducted research in computer science at the Research Science Institute at MIT. She enjoys swimming, piano, and will miniprep for chocolate.

Elizabeth is a sophomore in Lowell house, studying Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology with a secondary in Classics. While she's lived in a variety of places such as California, Germany, and Japan, I currently hail from Massachusetts. She loves art, ancient history, poetry, photography, nature, biology, and God. Elizabeth's been interested in science since she asked for a chemistry set and telescope in elementary school, but she truly found her love of biology in the Travis AFB Clinical Investigation Facility, helping to use medical-grade honey to control infections of antibiotic resistant bacteria in traumatic wounds as an alternative to antibiotics.

Sylvia is a junior at Harvard College concentrating in Neurobiology. She is from North Potomac, MD and went to Thomas Wootton High School where her area of expertise lied in computer science and graphic design. She had worked previously at the National Institute of Health doing a range of projects from researching the progression of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis to data analysis of hemophilia patients. Her passions however lie somewhere between studying human behavior, artistic expression, and not being “normal”. She enjoys sunsets, long walks on the beach, and frisky women.

Ben is a sophomore at Harvard College concentrating in Applied Mathematics. He grew up in Medfield, Massachusetts and attended the Roxbury Latin School. Prior to joining the Harvard iGEM team, Ben had worked with a number of different labs ranging from the USDA Sugar Beet and Bean research unit at Michigan State University to the Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disease group at the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research in Cambridge. His primary fields of interest include protein and genome modeling and improving the implementation of programming in biological research. When he is not in the lab, Ben enjoys sailing, football and Super Smash Bros.

Instructors and Advisors


Neel Joshi, Ph.D.

Super Awesome Instructor

Neel is an Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at John A. Paulson Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He has authored 11 publications and holds two patents.He is developing new biomaterials constructed from engineered proteins and peptides. The overarching goal of his research is to extract innovative design principles from materials and systems that are the product of natural evolution and recapitulate them in synthetic systems where their physical properties can be precisely tuned to suit biomedical and biotechnological needs. Current projects employ a range of approaches, including synthetic chemistry, protein engineering, directed evolution, and molecular biology. Working with the Synthetic Biology Platform, Neel has developed a novel protein switch platform that is able to convert the presence of certain biomolecules into a readily detectable signal. This work is being further developed for use in diagnostic applications for the tracking of disease biomarkers in bodily fluids and food samples. Another project associated with the Programmable Nanomaterials Platform is focused on engineering the molecular composition of bacterial biofilms to convert them from pathogenic substances into useful materials with non-natural function, such as filtration devices and catalytic membranes. Neel also has interests in mechanically responsive systems for drug delivery that take advantage of force-induced protein unfolding to release drugs on-demand in living systems.


Marika Ziesack

The Advisor Who is in the Land Above (The 5th floor)

Marika is a Graduate Student in Pamela Silver's laboratory. She works on engineering microbes for renewable production of chemicals. She did her undergrad studies at the University of Heidelberg in Germany in Molecular Biotechnology. In 2008 she participated in the iGEM competition as a member of the Heidelberg team which sparked her interest in synthetic biology. In her graduate studies, Marika develops tools for metabolic engineering of microbes and applies those for the production of commodity chemicals such as fertilizer and fuel.


Matthew Niederhuber

The Advisor with the Graphic Skillz

Matthew studies the cyanobacterial carboxysome, its structure, biogenesis, and potential synthetic applications. He is also involved in the lab’s ongoing work engineering bacteria to perform diagnostic and therapeutic functions in the human gut. He is interested in developing novel biological systems to address environmental and global health issues, and hopes to earn his PhD in Bioengineering.


Chris Wintersinger

The Instructor Who Got Stuck With Us

Chris Wintersinger is starting as a PhD student in bioengineering at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He is proudly Canadian and has been affectionately named “Wizard-singer” by his undergraduate colleagues since he is responsible for training them in methods of molecular biology and scientific research. When he is not helping students with their experiments, Chris is typically on his laptop contemplating how evolution may be leveraged with synthetic biology to develop protein biomaterials. On rare weekends that Chris escapes the lab, he may be found on mountain-tops, beaches, his bicycle, or anywhere where he can be active and in the great outdoors.


Isaac Plant

The "Boss" Instructor

Isaac is a Ph.D. Candidate in Bioengineering at the John A. Paulson Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He has his Masters of Science in Philosophy and Public Policy for the London School of Economics and Political Science. Isaac’s work focuses on harnessing the unique biology of cyanobacteria to construct new microbial engineering paradigms. He is also interested in the policy and ethics of biological research, and has far more opinions than is generally considered healthy.