UVU Students Fundraise to Showcase Their Inventive Biological Machine in Paris

UVU Students Fundraise to Showcase Their Inventive Biological Machine in Paris

APRIL 17, 2023|  By IA Staff Member


A group of 13 Utah Valley University (UVU) biology and chemistry students are working to become the first team from UVU to participate in the international iGEM Competition. 


With 350 teams from 19 different countries converging in Paris this November, the iGEM Grand Jamboree is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the UVU team to showcase their cutting-edge bioengineering knowledge and skills. The International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Foundation is a non-profit organization that advances education, competition, and collaboration in synthetic biology. During the iGEM Grand Jamboree, academics, investors, and industry representatives from around the world will gather while student teams present their cutting-edge research. This event is a remarkable opportunity for UVU students to represent the university and their research on an international scale.


With the help of their mentor professors, Dr. Eric Domyan and Dr. Colleen Hough of the UVU biology department, the student team met every week during the spring 2023 semester to research bioengineering and brainstorm ideas to create their very own machine. The students set a goal to reduce the nutrient load of wastewater entering Utah Lake. Large seasonal algal blooms plague the lake causing serious concern among not only the scientific community but also Utah County residents. With UVU overlooking this beautiful, yet endangered body of water, these students felt especially inclined to be part of the solution by engineering a biological machine that sequesters phosphorus and converts nitrogenous compounds to non-harmful atmospheric nitrogen. 


The biotech student team is working to present their work to a panel of judges at the jamboree in November 2023. They will be able to use feedback from the competition to push toward publishing their research and a product. The students will also have the opportunity to network with political leaders and citizens invested in the health of Utah’s natural resources and residents. 


UVU’s Biotech Program is uniquely suited to a project and competition of this caliber.  The program is unique in the level of hands-on molecular biology and genetic manipulation techniques they teach and the depth of scientific inquiry they provide. The team has the opportunity in this competition to take the skills they have developed through their coursework and apply it to a project that will have both local and global impact.


“I am seeking a career in virology or microbiology. The skills taught by the biotechnology program and iGEM will motivate me into chasing challenging goals and being ambitious with what I can accomplish,” says Elise Bennet. “This project has been tedious and difficult to navigate at times, but it is the most rewarding research I have ever been a part of.”


 “The iGEM competition is a great entry point in learning how to research and design our own experiments and projects,” explains Logan Fenn. “We have had to decide what we want to do, research avenues to accomplish our goals, and decide how we are going to do it.”


You can be a part of helping improve Utah’s wildlife ecosystem. The iGEM student team is seeking donations to support their research, complete their project, and present their findings. By making a gift of any size, you are not only helping UVU students achieve recognition for their hard work, but you are also investing in future scientists who will go on to make a difference in the community and the world