iGEM is an undergraduate synthetic biology competition, featuring over 200 collegiate teams from around the world. In 2012, the Dowell Lab established the CU-Boulder's first International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) competitive team. CU-Boulder's team is led by Dowell Lab grad students Tim Read and Joe Rokicki. iGEM is a summer-long, project-based research experience where teams of diverse undergraduates engage in a synthetic biology competition. Small student teams of undergraduates work to design, construct, and operate biological circuits of their own design in living cells (typically E. coli) using a kit of standard biological parts, known as bioBricks.
Over the summer, teams utilize these parts and those of their own construction to build unique biological systems. At the end of the summer, they present their creations at the iGEM Jamboree, an international science fair-styled competition. Teams are judged based on their contributions to the bioBrick registry, an oral presentation, a poster presentation, their design, and on creativity.
The 2013 team earned a gold medal at the North American regional jamboree in Toronto, Canada. Additionally, they won an award for their generation of a new Biobrick component, and were invited to compete at the World Championships in November.