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Welcome to the official VGEM Team wiki!

The Virginia Genetically Engineered Machine (VGEM) Team is a student-run, undergraduate synthetic biology research group at the University of Virginia founded in November 2006 by George McArthur (Chemical Engineering). The five-member team also includes Kevin Hershey (Chemical Engineering), Amy Schell (Biomedical Engineering), Ranjan Khan (Biomedical Engineering), and Emre Ruhi (Biology). The team raised $50,000 to fund its summer research over the course of just a few months. Over the 2006-07 winter break, we read 42 synthetic biology publications and discussed these papers for an hour each week during the spring semester to teach ourselves the basic concepts of this emerging discipline and to brainstorm project ideas. Once we narrowed down our list of ideas to feasible designs, we focused the majority of our summer research time on just a handful of projects and will present one of these at the 2007 iGEM Jamboree in November (see below).

We are advised by faculty members Erik Fernandez (Chemical Engineering), Jason Papin (Biomedical Engineering), and Ronald Bauerle (Biology) in addition to our graduate student mentor Brianne Ray (Microbiology) and lab specialist Kay Christopher (Biology).

The 2007 VGEM Team: Amy, George, Kevin, Ranjan, and Emre
Email the VGEM team

2007 Project: "Harvesting Cellulose and Light to Power Butanol Biosynthesis"

At the 2007 Jamboree, the VGEM Team will present its work toward the development of novel microbial metabolism for the production of valuable chemicals such as butanol biofuel from inexpensive feedstock material such as cellulose and light. Please read more about our project by navigating with the links at the top of the page.

Please note that our project is original research inspired by published literature, completely designed by the undergraduate team members, and not at all, in any way, based on the research projects of any of our team's advisors. The articles from which our work is built are listed in the "references" section at the bottom of the "approach" page.

VGEM Team logo


VGEM Team benefactors at UVA include the following groups:

The Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies
The University of Virginia Engineering Foundation
The School of Engineering and Applied Science
The School of Medicine
The Department of Biomedical Engineering
The Department of Chemical Engineering
The Department of Biology
The Department of Microbiology

Our corporate sponsor: