Apply to iGEM

iGEM Applications for the 2023 Team are open until Friday, November 25th, 2022 at 11:59 pm.


Virginia iGEM is a student-led synthetic biology research program. Anywhere from 10 to 20 students make up the team each year. It is a year-long program that has the following structure:

  1. Submit the iGEM Application
  2. Take the course BIOL4770: Synthetic Biology
  3. Summer research with stipend
  4. Fall research for credit (optional)
  5. iGEM International Giant Jamboree in October
  6. Recruitment for next year's team


What is Synthetic Biology?

Synthetic biology combines engineering design with biological investigation to produce a powerful tool for biotechnological innovation. Synthetic biology moves beyond genetic engineering, introducing a new level of control of biological systems.

With synthetic biology, you will be able to modify the DNA of organisms and incorporate synthetic genes into their genomes. With the engineering design method, you will have a powerful tool for changing the technological landscape and solving global problems.


Majors we look for:

- Chemistry
- Environmental Science
- Neuroscience
- Public Health
- Computer Science
- Physics
- Mathematics
- Statistics
- Marketing
- Biomedical Engineering
- Chemical Engineering
- Systems Engineering
- Engineers of all kinds!


1. Apply

Fill out the application form, which is due by Friday, November 25th, 2022 at 11:59 pm!


2. Take BIOL 4770

The first part of iGEM is taking 3 credit class in the Biology department BIOL 4770. A few general asides about the class:

  1. This course has no prerequisites. Previous biological knowledge is not assumed.
  2. The class is taught by the iGEM advisor, Keith Kozmiski.
  3. Taking the course does not obligate you to be a part of Virginia iGEM.

In this class, you will be learning more about the iGEM competition, synthetic biology, and basic lab techniques. Most importantly, you will develop a project proposal. At the end of the semester, you will propose your project idea to the class and the team will decide on a project.


3. Summer research

Over the summer, the team typically meets regularly to carry out the project they decided upon in the spring. Summer commitment is about 40 hours/week. While it is flexible, and some students elect to take a class or two over the summer, you should expect to make iGEM your main summer priority. Those who can commit more of their time will be preferred in selection and be paid a larger stipend.



iGEM teams are typically divided into five committees.


Wet Lab

Wet Lab consists of designing, planning, and carrying out lab work. All members of the team are expected to help out and devote time to this committee.



Modeling consists of the use of computational and mathematical models to gain insights on, guide, and analyze experimentation. Programs you might use to implement these models include MATLAB, Deepnote, Python, and C++. Professor Jason Papin advises the modeling committee each year. We use collaborative sites such as Benchling and Trello for protocol and assembly planning


Human Practices

Human Practices is a diverse field that puts your project in context. This committee meets with professionals and experts to develop and improve the project into something more impactful. You’ll look at the societal implications of our project and work to incorporate the community into its development. This committee also handles all the team’s collaborations with other iGEM teams.



As part of the iGEM competition and the Giant Jamboree (see below), and as part of the “open-source” mentality of the iGEM community, every team is required to design and develop a wiki or website to share the results and documentation of their project with the world and promote collaboration with other teams. In order to this, you will need to know or learn some basic HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to edit the website. Check out the 2022 Team's Wiki here!



The finance committee looks at our group as a potential start-up, taking notes from past iGEM success stories such as Transfoam and Agrospheres. They answer questions such as: "Who are our competitors and consumers?" "How do we make our product marketable?" "How do we go about getting a patent to protect our intellectual property?" This committee looks at cost-benefit analysis, branding, and works closely with Human Practices to build our professional network. iGEM headquartesr even launched its pilot program, iGEM EPIC, to promote entrepreneurial drive.

To learn more about iGEM and the other various aspects, visit


4. Fall Research

During the fall semester, you have the option of taking 0-3 credits of research for the work you do in iGEM. The credit hours you take will depend on the amount of time you are able to commit to the project. However, there will still be a significant amount of work to do in the fall, and you should be able to maintain iGEM as one of your main obligations.

During this time, you will continue conducting research in Wet Lab, as well as working on other aspects of the project, including Wiki and Human Practices, all the way up to the deadline.


5. Giant Jamboree

The team’s work and effort on the project over the summer and the fall culminates in a 5 day global conference called the Giant Jamboree. Each team presents their project to the rest of the iGEM community as well as the judges of the competition through both a poster and a presentation! At the Giant Jamboree you’ll get to meet other iGEM students from all around the world, network with companies, and learn more about the synthetic biology community. Depending on the strength of the components of your project, your team may even leave with some level of recognition. Team Virginia has been a strong competitor in iGEM the last 10 years, and we aim to remain so in the future.


6. Recruitment

You have the opportunity to pick the next year’s team. Advertise and hold interest meetings, read over applications, and hold interviews. Use your experience in iGEM to pick the best team! You can even choose to be a part of Virginia iGEM for a second year!

If you have any other questions about iGEM, email: