Team:Lethbridge HS/Team

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Team Members

Team Advisors

Dia Koupantsis

Hello, my name is Dia Koupantsis and I am a student leader with the Lethbridge Collegiate iGEM team as well as my second year as an advisor for the High School iGEM Team. I am a mentor for Mindfuel-GeekStarter for synthetic biology. I am currently studying biological science with a specialization in molecular genetics at the University of Lethbridge, I have a particular interest in RNA based research, genomics, epigenetics and synthetic biology. I joined iGEM because it seems like the perfect place to grow my passion for science, to be in a wonderful team such as the Lethbridge High School team, and of course to learn more about applied synthetic biology. Outside of science I enjoy reading, coffee, hanging out with friends, playing the cello, and hiking.

Kristi Turton

Hi my name is Kristi Turton. I am the fall semester Teaching Assistant (TA) and this is my third consecutive year working with the Lethbridge High School team. I am in my second year of my Master’s program in Biochemistry at the UofL. My primary area of study is with nanoparticles. I am also part of the RNA Innovation program that is offered to graduate students at the University of Lethbridge and Université de Sherbrooke. Through my years working with the Lethbridge iGEM teams I have fallen in love with Synthetic biology and all that it has to offer and am looking forward to making a career out of it. Besides science, I am a novice musician and drink way too much coffee in the afternoon.

Luke Saville

I am an M.Sc. Biochemistry student at the University of Lethbridge. I have been working with the Lethbridge HS team for 3 years. I think synthetic biology and genetic engineering are vital to meeting new challenges in health, agriculture and other important research fields. My thesis research is to elucidate the roles of ncRNAs in neurodegeneration and cellular stress.

Laura Keffer-Wilkes

Hello! I am super pumped to be a part of the Lethbridge High School team again this year. I am the Primary Investigator and it has been amazing working with all these awesome young people. I studied RNA modification enzymes in graduate school and love STEM outreach. This year’s iGEM team has continuously impressed me with their dedication, knowledge and creativity. I especially loved the music recital they organized. I hope you enjoyed learning about our project!

Jalyce Heller

Hello, my name is Jalyce Heller. I finished my M. Sc in Biochemistry last summer and now to work in the Wieden lab at the U of L studying components of the bacterial translation machinery. I had the opportunity to instruct the HS iGEM team while Laura was away this summer. This was my first experience with iGEM, and I was so impressed with that passion that these high school students demonstrate.

Student Members

Declan Sander

Hi! This is my first year as a member of the Lethbridge iGEM team. I really enjoy the teamwork aspect of iGEM as well as the discussion we have. This exposure to new ideas has really pushed me to learn more and become more curious about the science world. Some of the goals I set for myself as a team member and an individual are to: contribute to conversations and help where I can help, as well as learn new skills (I recently took up coding). I look forward to working with my team and friends this year!

Thomas Byrne

Despite the unique conditions presented to us this year iGEM has remained a great way for me to learn more about synthetic biology, human practices, wet lab work, and modeling. I have enjoyed working through the problems we have faced throughout the season and seeing more of what one does on an iGEM team. Outside of igem I enjoy playing the guitar, losing at chess, and reading novels. iGEM has been a great experience for me that has opened my eyes to a variety of different fields, and I would highly encourage candidates on the fence to join the program.

Wenyu Chen

Hey y’all! My name is Wenyu, and this is my first year as a member of the Lethbridge iGEM team. I initially joined iGEM to gain more experience in the lab as well as to further my knowledge in synthetic biology. This has been such a unique and interesting experience that I have thoroughly enjoyed. iGEM has taught me so much about the science industry from human practices to the business side of things, and has encouraged me to further my education in synthetic biology. Aside from iGEM, in my free time I enjoy running (jk no one actually enjoys running), drawing and listening to non country music.

Shada Aborawi

My name is Shada and I am currently in grade 12 at Lethbridge Collegiate Institute. This is my second year being a part of the Lethbridge high school iGEM team and although recent events have made us change our path as a team, I still find myself enjoying being on the team and working with everyone this season. I love how, despite everything going on, our advisors are making sure we’re staying on top of jobs and keeping busy. I initially joined iGEM to extend my academic learning in regards to synthetic biology past the notes I take in class. I decided to become a part of the team again as I loved the environment of working alongside peers to create a little project that we believe can help improve the world a little. Outside of iGEM, I usually spend my free time reading, writing stories and poetry, listening to podcasts (highlight of my mornings), baking, and drinking tea. I’m looking forward to working on our project with my teammates and the continuation of this season.

Olive Graham

Hi, my name is Olive and I am in grade 12 at Lethbridge Collegiate Institute. This is my first year on the Lethbridge high school iGEM team, and though this year was seemingly cut short, I am excited to tackle this new challenge and grow as a group together. I have always loved learning, science and biology in particular, but I wanted to expand my learning past what I had been taught in a classroom. I joined iGEM to broaden my understanding of synthetic biology, as well as to collaborate with like-minded peers to apply this knowledge, creating something that could genuinely help others. Outside of iGEM, I am a bit of an activist, but I also spend my free time doing art, yoga, reading and playing music! IGEM had already been teaching me so much in ways I hadn’t expected, for instance I've learned about coding and the entrepreneurial aspect of science, and I can't wait to see what other paths this opportunity will take me on.

Xinhong Li

Hi! My name is Xinhong Li. I am sixteen years old and I am from Winston Churchill high school. This is my first year on the team. I initially joined iGEM because I’ve always had a passion for different kinds of lab work, and I’ve always been interested in genetic engineering. This has been such an amazing opportunity for me that I really enjoyed. I have learned so much about proposing ideas, writing scientific paper, doing team work, using the equipments in the lab and presenting the final results. This experience has made me want to pursue a degree in biochemistry engineering. During my free time, I enjoy cuddling with my cat, volunteering at the cat shelter and going to my friends’ house to see their cats. I also like to overthink math problems.

Lana VanGenderen

Hi! My name is Lana VanGenderen, and I am currently a grade eleven student at Winston Churchill High School. It is my first year of iGEM, and I was super excited to join because I love science, especially biology and chemistry. I thought iGEM would be a great opportunity to learn more about synthetic biology, have more knowledge and experience in the lab, as well as learn more about the business and ethics side of science. After high school I know that I want to go to post-secondary and study something in the medical field, I am not exactly sure what aspect yet. During my free time I enjoy sliding on ice and throwing rocks, aka curling, playing basketball with my sister even though it mostly consists of her saying how bad I am at it, and most of all watching Netflix!

Elisha Wong

Hello my name is Elisha and this is my second year of iGEM! I graduated high school this year and began my undergraduate studies in neuroscience. I’ve always been passionate about science, so much so that I spent the summer of 2019 in a University lab researching Alzheimer’s. I enjoy working on human practices since it gives another perspective on the impacts of scientific work.

Marissa Wong

This is my first year as a member of the iGEM Team. I have really enjoyed working and collaborating with others, while expanding my knowledge in the science realm. My main focus has so far been working on the human practices part of our project. I look forward to continuing working together and seeing where it takes us!

Linda He

Hello! My name is Linda and this is my second season with the Lethbridge High School iGEM Team. I first joined iGEM because I wanted to expand my knowledge and experience in the sciences beyond what I could learn in school. And it’s been a ride ever since! My favourite part of being in iGEM is the sense of community that comes with it, both on a team and an international level, as iGEM brings individuals from all over the world with a shared passion for scientific innovation together. I am the most interested in the Human Practices aspect of iGEM, as I love to hear the insights of stakeholders and experts that help improve our project in every aspect. Personally, iGEM has been a deeply fulfilling experience for me, and it has allowed me to gain and improve my skills in a multitude of areas, including leadership, lab technique, scientific writing, and bioethics. Outside of iGEM, I enjoy dancing ballet, reading books, and practicing my musical instruments.