Student Members

Rebecca Buchanan

Rebecca Buchanan is the current UGA-Georgia iGEM Team President, and she has been a member of our team for 2 years. She is a fifth year student completing her degrees in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Cellular Biology, as well as a Religion minor. Following graduation, Rebecca wishes to pursue a PhD relating to the field of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. Rebecca's hobbies and favorite things include playing tennis, reading, watching movies, and road-trips. She can be contacted at

Hirel Patel

Hirel Patel is a third year biology major who has emerged as a leader of the iGEM team this year. He has been a member of iGEM since his freshman year and truly enjoyed his experience with the organization. His favorite part of iGEM would be getting to know each of his team members and building camaraderie among themselves. When not in lab he enjoys sleep, something he does not get enough of and is also an avid football fan. He plans to attend medical school and would like to go into family practice some day.

John Buchanan

John Buchanan is currently a third year student at The University of Georgia pursuing a B.S. in Biology with an emphasis in Neuroscience from the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. He has been a part of UGA iGEM since the spring and in which has taken interest in metabolic modeling and has led the screening team. One day he hopes to pursue a graduate/professional degree and then pursue a career in medicine. Outside of school, John enjoys to play golf, fish, and watch football.

Steven Kodish

Steven Kodish is a 3rd year student studying biotechnology at the University of Georgia. Greatly interested in both the science and business of synthetic biology, Steven joined iGEM with the intent of maximizing his knowledge of the ins-and-outs of the functions of a lab. Outside of the lab, Steven’s hobbies include fishing, cooking, travel, and SCUBA diving.

Benjamin Park

Ben Park is a sophomore honors student here at UGA from Johns Creek, GA. He is majoring in Microbiology and has always been involved with research from his first semester at UGA. In his spare time he is planning events for the different organizations he is am a part of and usually spends around 20 hours a week doing research across various platforms and subjects. His hobbies include working out and community service in the Athens community. He plans on attending medical school after graduating.

Akshay Chandora

Lucas Bougang

Lucas Bougang is currently a senior at the University of Georgia, majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. His love of science and research pushed him to be involved with UGA’s iGEM Team. Lucas is also interested in sports, music and loves to work-out and play soccer during his free time. He is passionate about Developmental Biology and would to like to attend medical school after graduation.

Anjana Kumar

I am Anjana Kumar majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, a current senior. My ambition is to practice anesthesiology in the near future and be a part of Doctors Abroad. Some of my hobbies include swimming, singing, reading, and shopping. An interesting fact about me is that I can speak 5 languages. My recent passion has been getting involved with kids and tutoring them. Rock climbing has been another recent interest of mine just like being an iGEMer.

Walter Asencios

Walter joined iGEM in Spring 2015, and has enjoyed every second of it, from performing lab work to seeking funds for our project as the Fundraising Chair. Additionally, Walter is a member of FIMRC (Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children), where he educates elementary children in an interactive way about the different ways in which a person can maintain a healthy lifestyle. He enjoys volunteering at Mercy Health Clinic, playing intramural soccer, and playing the violin whenever he's not studying. Walter plans to attend medical school upon completion of his UGA studies.


Dr. Zhe Lyu

Dr. Zhe Lyu. Postdoctoral research associate. I have been working on methanogenic archaea encompassing their isolation, genomics, physiology and ecology since my doctoral studies. I am currently involved in engineering Methanococcus maripaludis, an excellent model organism for methanogenic archaea to promote biogas production. Methanogenic archaea play vital roles in regulating our climate and quenching our thirst for clean energy, all because the one simple molecule they release – methane. I believe that our research activities at UGA will enable better engineering and understanding of methanogenic archaea using synthetic biology, and prepare us for the grand challenges such as global warming and energy crisis.

Narendran Sekar

Narendran Sekar is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Biological and Agricultural Engineering at the University of Georgia, Athens, USA. His major research work focuses on studying electrogenic characteristics of microorganisms of evolutionary significance such as cyanobacteria and archaea, and exploring their extracellular electron transfer capabilities for alternative energy generation applications. He is currently working on genetic engineering of cyanobacteria for enhancing the photocurrent generation. He is one of the instructors of UGA iGEM team since 2013. He can be reached at


Dr. William Whitman

Department of Microbiology

Dr. Yajun Yan

College of Engineering

Dr. Rachit Jain

College of Engineering

Dr. Brahm Verma

College of Engineering