The Team

Undergraduate Students

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Michael Hampton

Michael Hampton is a 4th year student at UGA. Michael is majoring in Biology with the hopes of going to dental school and graduating with a degree in general dentistry. He enjoys working in any science setting, from lab work to co-teaching in science classes. Besides his work in the science community, Michael enjoys music. He play bass guitar for the UGA marching band, as well as the guitar and piano on the side. With his spare time, Michael likes to draw, lift weights, and play racquetball.

Peyton Smith

Peyton Smith is a 5th year senior at the University of Georgia studying Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Peyton began his collegiate career at the age of 15 by enrolling in the Georgia Academy of Aviation, Mathematics, Engineering and Science (G.A.M.E.S.) program at Middle Georgia College. Peyton is very passionate about research and has been involved in research throughout his undergraduate career. He explains his experience with UGA-iGEM to the UGA student daily, Red & Black, as “the most beneficial, impactful and exciting part of my academic career.” Peyton’s future goals are to attend graduate school as a PhD candidate in Biochemistry. Outside of Science, he competes nationally in archery, loves jamming to Dave Matthews Band and appreciates classic cars.

Marquise Westbrook

Marquise Westbrook is a fourth year biology major from Lansing, Michigan. After graduating from the University of Georgia he plans on attending medical school with hopes of becoming an anesthesiologist. When he is not running pcr or loading gels like a boss he can be found at the Ramsey student center wrestling or practicing Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Travis Fetchko

Travis Fetchko is a 5th year senior at the University of Georgia, double-majoring in Biology with Neuroscience Emphasis, and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. Originally born in McDonough, Georgia, Travis lived 8 years in the frozen mountain wilderness of Stevensville, Montana before coming to UGA, being raised by a family of ferocious grizzly bears. Travis bleeds red & black to his core, and would splice actual bulldog DNA with his own if you let him. Travis plans to attend graduate school to receive his PhD in Neuroscience, working in an area of degenerative diseases. Travis joined iGEM in March 2012 and attended last year's jamboree in Pittsburgh. Some of his hobbies include leading the student section at UGA sporting events, video games, playing intramural sports, and student government.

Annika Katrin McNally

Annika McNally is a fifth year Biology and German major at the University of Georgia. She has been a part of the UGA iGEM team since the start in March 2012. She will be graduating in December 2013 and is planning on starting Optometry school in August 2014.

Nicholas F. Rodriguez

Nicholas Rodriguez started his career in Biology with a minor in Spanish. He is a senior and plans to attend medical school. His final aspiration is to serve those in poor Latino areas. "The lab was great. Meeting new friends and applying science was a great break from the normal day."

Kapil Chandra

Year: Junior

Major: Biochemistry

Hometown: Snellville, GA

Favorite Hobby: Learning and Ultimate Frisbee

Tuan Anh Nguyen

Year: Junior

Major: Biochemistry and Math

Hometown: Columbus, Georgia

Yared Aklilu

Year: Junior

Major: Biology

Hometown: Atlanta

Benjamin Rohde

Year: Senior

Major: Genetics

Piyush Joshi

Year: Junior

Major: Genetics

Hometown: Smyrna, Georgia

Victoria DeLeo

Year: Senior

Major: Applied Biotechnology and Genetics

Hometown: Davie, Florida

Favorite Hobby: Knitting

Rahul Das Kapoor

Rahul is a microbiology major at the University of Georgia. He looks forward to attending a DO school in Fall 2014.

Brandon Burroway

Brandon Burroway is a 3rd year undergraduate student at UGA. He is majoring in Biology and minoring in Spanish. He is hoping to apply to medical school in the summer of 2014. Brandon worked with the iGEM team throughout the summer of 2013. Outside of research and class work, Brandon enjoys volunteering at the American Red Cross and playing soccer at the University of Georgia.

Bryan Grommersch



Rachit Jain (Doctoral student, College of Engineering)

Rachit Jain, Metabolic Engineer

4th year Biological and Agricultural Engineering, UGA

Founding member of UGA-iGEM

Dr. Zhe Lyu, Post Doctoral Associate, Department of Microbiology

Affectionately nicknamed LZ by Barny, is a 100% Chinese postdoctoral research associate in William Barny Whitman’s lab. His family name used to be spelled as Lü in Chinese dictionary and textbooks, but just like mutations are constantly taking place in genes, “point mutation” soon changed the name into Lv or Lu when it’s exposed to the world of computers and internet. Unlike mutations emerging in genes, which is a process believed to be largely random. The arising of Lv or Lu is full of human design based upon convenient communication with computers – early computers just didn’t recognize ü. The newest and also the only internationally authorized design so far - Lyu, made its debut just a year ago, as officials might want to set things straight once-for-all. LZ probably prefers such designs would have never happened to him, since it introduces some kind of identity crisis and also brings up endless hassle when it comes to dealing with personal records. However, he sure wants to make it happen on genes – how cool it would be if one can design genes, right? A coin always has two sides – being deprived of the right to design his family name, LZ gets to design genes and operons to let them express in Methanococcus in Barny’s lab. Hopefully, those ongoing gene designs, including the ones for UGA-iGEM team, would tap the great biosynthetic potential of Methanococcus as well as Archaea; hence help to address some of the most challenging problems such as energy crisis and environmental pollution in the 21st century.

Narendran Sekar (Doctoral student, College of Engineering)

PhD student first yr. Biological Engineering

Narendran Sekar is a Phd graduate student in Nano electrochemistry Lab at College of Engineering. Narendran's expertise in Master’s degree is metabolic engineering, and he has worked on metabolic flux analysis to optimize the production of recombinant beta- galactosidase in E. coli by cloning a heterologous pyruvate carboxylase gene. Currently, he am working on developing Photosynthetic Microbial Fuel Cell using cyanobacteria called Nostoc sp. and understanding its electron transfer mechanism through electrochemical experiments and characterizations.

Faculty Advisors


Dr. William B. Whitman, Professor Department of Microbiology

Dr. Yajun Yan, Assistant Professor College of Engineering

Dr. Brahm Verma, Professor College of Engineering