Dundee University students from Forfar are Kirriemuir are heading to Boston next week after ‘mopping up’ at an international competition.
Rachel Findlay from Forfar and Kyle Buchan from Kirriemuir booked their tickets after sweeping the boards to be crowned European champions in a prestigious international competition designed to advance science and education.
The ten students from across the University won the iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) European Jamboree in Lyon and will now go forward to the World Final in Boston on November 1. They also received an additional award for delivering the Best Presentation at the event, which featured around 60 other student teams from universities across Europe.
This is the third year Dundee has been represented in the highly competitive, worldwide, iGEM Competition aimed at undergraduate university students. Dundee won successive gold medals at the 2011 and 2012 Jamborees but this is the first time they have been named overall winners.
The competition requires students to use a kit of biological parts and to use these (and new parts of their own design) to build biological systems and operate them in living cells at laboratories in their own universities. The Dundee team has devised a project called ‘Toxi-Mop’ which uses synthetic biology to engineer harmless laboratory strains of bacteria to ‘clean up’ water that has become contaminated with toxic algal blooms. The local value of this became apparent in the summer when the warm weather led to algal blooms in Clatto Reservoir and in the boating pond at Camperdown Country Park. The team has also built a device (‘the Mop-topus’) that can be housed permanently at a lake or pond, which will continuously monitor the temperature, pH and light levels that can be used to predict the likelihood of future algal blooms. Staff advisor Professor Tracy Palmer congratulated the winning team, saying: “We are very proud of the students for their achievements. Their predecessors did exceptionally well winning Gold Medals in each of the past two years and now they have gone one better by being named as overall European champions. Their project is innovative and has a very important real-world application.”