UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — Under the leadership of biology professor Daniel Pierce, the University of Richmond will send an inaugural team to the iGEM competition in Boston next week. 

iGEM, which stands for International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition, is the premiere synthetic biology competition for both university and high school level students. The competition provides students the opportunity to push the boundaries of synthetic biology by tackling everyday issues facing the world.

The UR team, which includes about 10 students from several science disciplines, is working on a project related to better understanding the plant pathogen Agrobacterium, which causes millions of dollars of crop damage yearly. Agrobacterium can cause crown gall tumors on wounded plants. Learn more about the team’s project on their website.

“It’s a great opportunity for our undergraduate research students to participate in a competition of this magnitude that is so well-regarded in the scientific community,” said Pierce, who is excited to mentor the group through its first project. “Universities from all over the world participate, and our students are excited to learn from them and share their own research.” 

“Being able to exchange ideas and directly interact with student researchers from other prestigious institutions is really exciting,” said Savannah Del Cid, a UR junior and team leader. “We are participating in this experience because it will further advance our academic and career goals.”

iGEM teams work on their project over the course of several months and then come together in the fall for the culmination, which is called the Giant Jamboree. The teams compete for various awards.


Assistant Professor of Biology
Molecular Biology
Bacterial Pathogenesis
Synthetic Biology