Apply to iGEM

iGEM Applications for the 2024 Team are open until Monday, November 27th, 2023 at 11:59 pm.


Virginia iGEM is a student-led synthetic biology research program with a team of ~10 people. It is a year-long program that has the following structure:

  1. Submit the iGEM Application
  2. Take the course BIOL 4770: Synthetic Biology
  3. Summer research with possible stipend
  4. Fall research for credit 
  5. iGEM Grand Jamboree in late October
  6. Recruitment for the following 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:

- Biology
- 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 Monday, November 27th, 2023 at 11:59 pm.


2. Take BIOL 4770

The first part of iGEM is taking BIOL 4770, a 3-credit class on synthetic biology. 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, Professor Keith Kozminski.
  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. You will also develop a project proposal in teams of 3-4 students and will submit it as a paper at the end of the semester. The iGEM team will either choose one of these proposals as the summer research project or create a new research proposal for the project.

Note: BIOL 4770 counts as a Second Writing Requirement, which can be used to fulfill the STS elective requirement for the School of Engineering and Applied Science.


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 over the summer, you should expect to make iGEM your main summer priority. 



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.  We use collaborative sites such as Benchling for writing lab protocols and drawing plasmid maps.



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++.


Human Practices

Human Practices is a diverse field that puts your project into 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 your project and work to incorporate the community into its development. This committee also handles the team’s collaborations with other iGEM teams.



As part of the iGEM competition and the Grand Jamboree (see below), and as part of the “open-source” mentality of the iGEM community, every team is required to design and develop a website or "wiki" to share the results and documentation of their project with the world and promote collaboration with other teams. In order to do this, you will need to know or learn some basic HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to edit the website. Check out our 2023 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?", and "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 HQ even launched its pilot program, iGEM Startups, 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 1-3 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. Note: To earn 1 research credit, you must work a total of 50 hours during the fall semester.

Regardless of how many hours you choose to take, there will still be a significant amount of work to do in the fall. 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. Grand 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 Grand Jamboree. Each team presents their project to the rest of the iGEM community as well as the judges of the competition. Meet other iGEM students from all around the world, network with companies, and learn more about the synthetic biology community. 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 by advertising the program, leading interest meetings, reading over applications, and holding interviews. Use your experience in iGEM to pick the best team!

If you have any other questions about iGEM, email: