The 9 Coolest Student Biology Projects At The 2013 iGEM Competition

Organofoam
Yes, biodegradable Styrofoam exists, but not without the risk of mold. The iGEM Cornell team created an anti-fungal mechanism to prevent mold from occurring during the production process of biodegradable Styrofoam. The team collaborated with the environmental design company Ecovative Design to improve on their current product for direct application. Their mushroom packaging degrades in the ground after just 1 month; normal Styrofoam can take over 500 years. “Our goal was to make their product better so that it can compete with Styrofoam,” says team member Hannah Ajmani. The team will not only decrease production costs by eliminating contamination, but they also hope to offer Organofoam in a variety of colors, to increase marketability.

We’re thinking of our visit to this year’s International Genetically Engineered Machines competition as our gold ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. You know, “Come with me, and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination.” Or something.

Synthetic biology’s equivalent to the student robotics championship, iGEM has historically played impresario to the burgeoning field. Using its tools and growing catalogue of genes parts, students compete to create the most useful, most intriguing organisms. This weekend, they showed off bacteria that ride worms, next generation cures for tuberculosis and 243 other projects. Here are our top picks from the finals at MIT. Also, check out our post about the first competition in 2004.

Darwin Toolbox
antibiotic detection
men in bee costume
jeans dying
colisweeper
how to fight TB
wormboys
taxi.coli