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Vincent Leonardo Vincent Leonardo
Vincent Leonardo

Vincent is amazing, he radiates positivity and he has a black belt at being good in everything from cooking delicious food to excellent lab skills. Also, Vincent is like a "Wikipedia of genetics", if anyone has a question about it, he is the person who will give great advice about it. In his free time Vincent gives brilliant piano lessons, and plays it beautifully himself, also dreams of being a GREAT king in the future. Furthermore, he has an amazing 30 pairs of shoes collection, which would be enough for 3 iGEM teams! Recently, during iGEM, Vincent become proud and loving father of Betty and Bertie (the first L-forms he grew on a streak plate).

James King James King
James King

If you need help modelling, James is the guy you need to talk to. James is a second year Geneticist who hopes to work in bioinformatics in the future. This chirpy chappy has a passion for cooking and has treated certain iGEMers to his delectable risotto. When not working on iGEM or cooking fabulous food you will find James at the university squash courts with friends.

Yana Dem'yanenko Yana Dem'yanenko
Yana Dem'yanenko

A trampolining, opera-watching, guitar-and-sometimes-piano-playing, dangerous-cyclling, wine-drinking, cheese-eating, gourmet chef – Yana also sometimes works on iGEM.

Matthew Law Matthew Law
Matthew Law

As one of the two computer scientists on the team, Matt has been vital to the design and production of our wiki. Matt has also cheerfully immersed himself in the labwork. Matts main computing interests are game design and bio-informatics. Outside academia, Matt enjoys playing and coaching basketball and is president of the University basketball club.

Vivian Wong Vivian Wong
Vivian Wong

Vivian studies Pharmacology and is from Hong Kong. She’s a dedicated member of the team, often working late into the evening. As well as her competence with practical lab work, she is quietly confident in many aspects of the project such as navigating the wiki and having design input. Although first seen as a little shy, Vivian quickly came out of her shell, giving excellent advice and listening and responding to problems or concerns. In her spare time she enjoys playing the piano, eating out and enjoying a good cup of tea.

Christopher Wall Christopher Wall
Christopher Wall

Studying in the first Synthetic Biology Masters in the country (alongside Rob), Chris completed a BSc in Biology at the University of Sheffield before moving to Newcastle. As one of the more experienced members of the team, Chris' extensive lab skills and resourcefulness have made him the first person other members turn to when an experiment goes wrong or a protocol needs adjusting. Found in the lab at weekends and late into the night, Chris' enthusiasm and maturity have enabled him to successfully juggle iGEM with the end of his Masters project. When not in the lab, Chris can be found playing or watching football, and is also something of a movie aficionado.

Justas Miknys Justas Miknys
Justas Miknys

Justas is one of our computer scientists in the team and provides a lot of help with the computing and modelling parts of our project. Even though he doesn’t have much background in biology, he contributed a lot in biological modelling. Justas has a signature laugh which cheers everyone up after a long day. Throughout the day, he also likes to share haribos and cookies with everyone on the team to keep everyone full. Justas suggested that our iGEM team be called Newcastle Mafia. This name was luckily voted out but he was devastated.

Alina Tamciuc Alina Tamciuc
Alina Tamciuc

Alina is our only architect in the team but has thrown herself into the lab work with lots of enthusiasm. Her strengths are in her strong eye for design (as seen in the team logo), her straight talking attitude and supportive and friendly nature. She also enjoys hikes, cheese, wine, watching Miss Marple, cherry tea, trips to the cinema and photography.

Robert McKiernan Robert McKiernan
Robert McKiernan

Rob is one of the first two people in the UK to study Synthetic Biology and prior to this he studied Cellular and Molecular Biology. He has a love of travelling, having visited 22 countries so far where he has enjoyed a wide range of experiences, from climbing to Everest base camp, to sky diving in New Zealand. He is often sighted in blur form as he skates frantically everywhere possible and he goes snowboarding whenever the chance arises. He achieved distinction in grade 8 saxophone and above all else, has a full beard!

Isabelle McLaren Isabelle McLaren
Isabelle McLaren

Izzy is a 3rd year Biomedical Science student and is often seen helping out in the lab. She is very cheerful and lightens up the mood for everyone in the lab. Izzy is very efficient and completes tasks she is set to do quickly and accurately. When expressing her views, she is often straightforward but at the same time also listens to others member’s opinion to reach the best possible alternative while confronting a problem. While waiting for things to incubate, you can always see Izzy reading a book whilst drinking a cup of tea outside the lab. In her spare time, she also enjoys being at the beach and trying out different types of cuisine with other members of the team.

Geoffrey Pettitt Geoffrey Pettitt
Geoffrey Pettitt

A softly spoken, contemplative chap, Geoff brings a more reflective quality to the team. his flexibility has allowed seamless movement between themes, with Geoff equally comfortable growing and experimenting on his plants or modelling the L-forms growing in them. A keen hiker, he is the vice-president of the university's fellwalking society.

Supervisors and Advisors

)Prof. Anil Wipat Prof. Anil Wipat
Prof. Anil Wipat

I am the degree programme director for the MSc Bioinformatics and Computational Systems Biology at Newcastle University. My research interests are focussed on integrative bioinformatics, systems and synthetic biology. My group researches strategies for data integration in bioinformatics at various levels from the local integration of 'omics' datasets as probabilistic integrated functional networks, through to the integration of remote heterogeneous databases (ONDEX). My group are investigating approaches to facilitate an integrative and systems approach to biology, with a particular emphasis on ageing and nutrition, as part of the BBSRC/EPSRC funded Newcastle Centre for the Integrative and Systems Biology of Ageing and Nutrition (CISBAN). Methods for model annotation by data integration have been developed as part of the SAINT project. The group also researches and develops e-Science and Cloud computing technology to tackle problems in biological data analysis, simulation, and integration, and are interested in how the biological sciences can, in turn, drive developments in computing science. In particular, the group is developing technology for data integration, computational modelling and comparative genomics (e.g. Microbase). I also researches computational design strategies for Synthetic Biology, with a focus on the role of modelling and data integration in the design of biological systems. Laboratory facilities have been estalished in collaboration with the Centre for Bacterial Cell Biology allowing computational designs to be tested in-vivo. The biological applications of his research are quite diverse ranging from microbiology and metagenomics, through to the mechanisms of human genetic disease and ageing. Traditionally the group has a strong interest and background in microbial genomics and functional genomics particularly for Gram-positive microorganisms such as Bacillus and relatives.

Dr. Paolo Zuliani Dr. Paolo Zuliani
Dr. Paolo Zuliani

I am a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in the School of Computing Science at Newcastle University. My current research area is verification of biological and cyber-physical systems via model checking. I work with Anil Wipat and his group at the Center for Bacterial Cell Biology, in particular for verifying synthetic biology designs. Earlier, I worked with Edmund M. Clarke at Carnegie Mellon University, where I was the Technical Coordinator of CMACS. I am also interested in quantum and reversible programming languages, and formal methods for specifying and deriving code (a la Dijkstra) for quantum algorithms. For information visit: [ Dr. Paolo Zuliani].

Dr. Wendy Smith Dr. Wendy Smith
Dr. Wendy Smith

I am a research associate based in our wet lab in the Centre for Bacterial Cell Biology, Newcastle University. I studied Medical Microbiology at Newcastle University and my PhD was analysing functional genomics of group A streptococcal virulence factors. My initial research involved investigating the mechanisms of pathogenicity utilized by the Gram positive bacteria Streptococcus pyogenes. This experience equipped me with considerable expertise in the physiology/molecular biology of Gram-positive bacteria. I first encountered the concept of synthetic biology (at local seminars) in the context of a Gram-positive bacterium (Bacillus subtilis) and my interest stemmed initially from recognizing that this was a completely new and ‘exciting’ area, where I could make a valuable contribution exploiting my existing expertise. I have now extended my interests into the field of synthetic biology and am specifically researching into synthetic quorum peptide mediated communication systems in Bacillus subtilis.

Dr. Jem StachDr. Jem Stach
Dr. Jem Stach

Principal research interests include the ecology of marine actinomycetes, (diversity, abundance and biogeography), novel natural products from marine actinomycetes, the application of peptide nucleic acids in species-specific bactericide and the development of antisense-based antibacterial screens

Dr Martyn Dade-Robertson Dr Martyn Dade-Robertson
Dr Martyn Dade-Robertson

The trajectory of my research and teaching to date has been underpinned by a conviction that architectural design theory and practice have a significant contribution to make to contexts beyond the built environment. I have also looked to move past technological speculation in areas such as digital technology and Synthetic Biology to develop and explore experimental prototypes, seeking to ground speculative discourse in practical reality. Through the development of core research programs in technology and scientific areas such as Synthetic Biology, my aim is to develop a rigorous intellectual engagement with new types of material systems and practices. I have published more than 20 peer reviewed publications including the book The Architecture of Information (Routledge 2011) and received more than £400,000 in research income working on projects which span architectural design and digital technologies. My research group ArchaID is the basis form both my research and teaching and more information can be found here. I am always keen to talk to promising prospective PhD students in areas of Architectural Design and Computation and Architecture and Synthetic Biology. I have a particular interest in design and emergence through computational and biological systems.

Dr. Jennifer Hallinan Dr. Jennifer Hallinan
Dr. Jennifer Hallinan

I am a researcher in the School of Computing Science at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom. I have a backgroud in both molecular biology and computing science, and am interested in the interface between the two. I am particularly interested in the use of computational intelligence techniques to design synthetic genetic circuits. Our group has laboratory space in the Centre for Bacterial Cell Biology, where our designs can be implemented in our favourite organism, Bacillus subtilis.Research Interests include, Systems and synthetic biology,Computational intelligence and machine learning, Molecular biology of Bacillus subtilis

Owen Gilfellon Owen Gilfellon
Owen Gilfellon

1st year PhD student, studying Computer Intelligence applied to the engineering of Bacillus subtilis, in association with Microsoft Research, Cambridge. Current Synthetic Biology designs are generally small scale and produced manually, using large amounts of specific domain knowledge. The development of automated computational tools that utilise Computer Intelligence has the potential to extend the scale of possible designs, providing the framework for genome-scale engineering. Work on the automated design of simple devices will be the basis for research into the full or partial automation of the full Synthetic Biology process. Important to this will be investigating the role of programming languages in defining high-level design specifications, how they can best abstract the complexity of the underlying biology, and how they can usefully incorporate computer intelligence algorithms and representations of genetic parts.

Sarah Shapiro Sarah Shapiro
Sarah Shapiro

Hello! My name is Sarah and I am a 2nd year Ph.D student at Newcastle University. My work focuses on the gram negative Bacteroides class, which are prominent members of the human intestinal flora. I use a traditional biochemistry “bottom up” approach to elucidating how these endogenous bacteria recognise and metabolise complex carbohydrates from the intestinal environment by both characterising target proteins in vitro and through creating strains with genetic mutations. I am acting as an informal advisor to this year’s iGEM team to answer questions about general lab practice and strategies. I competed in iGEM for the University of St Andrews in 2010 and acted as an informal advisor to the subsequent year’s team. iGEM was a fantastic opportunity for me as both a competitor and advisor and it has been very rewarding for me to take part as an advisor for the Newcastle team this year.

Sungshic Park Smith Sungshic Park
Sungshic Park Smith

I am a PhD student in synthetic biology. At crossroads between molecular biology and engineering, synthetic biology is a science trying to crack the code of life by building it. I want to understand how DNA governs many facets of biological life forms from microscopic regulations at the cellular level to such macroscopic phenomena as senescence, cancer, intelligence and self-awareness. I want to pursue research on building cellular machineries that can perform “simple” defined tasks. Ultimately, I want to design a framework genome that would serve as a platform for programming microbes or cellular machines. In fact, building such a synthetic genome is a reality still far into the future. Currently, I am set out for an interim research goal: given a mathematical model of a synthetic genetic circuit, determine the what and how of in vivo measurements in terms of resolving discrepancies between the model and the world. This research calls for other enabling studies such as microfluidics, molecular quantification and directed evolution. I have background both in computing and biochemistry. I have worked on various projects involving robotics, artificial intelligence, process control, neural cell recording, animal behaviour measurement and molecular biology. Some of the species worked on include UNIX posix, Linux ubuntu, MacOS leopard, Windows seven, Rattus norvegicus (rodent), Macaca radiata (macaque), Escherichia coli, Clostridium difficile and Bacillus subtilis.

Dr. Ling Juan Wu Dr. Ling Juan Wu
Dr. Ling Juan Wu

I am a senior research associate in the Centre for Bacterial Cell Biology, Newcastle University. I did my undergraduate and Master Degrees in China. I entered the world of bacterial chromosome segregation when I did my PhD project at Oxford University with Jeff Errington. Understanding the process of chromosome segregation and how it is coordinated with cell division in Gram-positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis remain my main research interests. Currently my work focuses on chromosome behaviour in B. subtilis L-forms and its application in synthetic biology.

Newcastle University The Centre for Bacterial Cell Biology Newcastle Biomedicine The School of Computing Science The School of Computing Science