Ashburn, VA (December 11, 2016) – The Broad Run High School iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) team returned from the recent iGEM Competition with the only gold medal captured by an American high school.
The iGEM Foundation is dedicated to the advancement of synthetic biology. This year’s iGEM Competition featured 5,600 participants from 42 countries.
Broad Run took its gold for a project that genetically modified yeast to treat wastewater created by the manufacturing of ceiling tile. It also won the award for Best Integrated Human Practices Award, High School.
Broad Run’s team won a silver medal in this competition last year.
Team members include:
Students: Captain Marissa Sumathipala, Noor Hadi, Brinda Sinha and Adriel Sumathipala
Instructors: Regina Kieninger, Dr. Nina Arendtsz
Mentors for lab work: Dr. Janet Cascio
Adriel Sumathipala is a 2016 Broad Run graduate who now attends Yale University.
The team’s iGEM registration, which cost $5,000, was provided – for the second consecutive year – by Armstrong Ceiling Solutions. Marissa Sumathipala said the company decided on the second year of sponsorship after the team presented their project to Armstrong executives at Armstrong’s Pennsylvania headquarters.
The Broad Run team genetically modified yeast to treat Armstrong’s wastewater. “We’ve given this yeast a new function it didn’t have before,” said Marissa Sumathipala. “The function we’re giving it is the ability to break down starch molecules. Starch molecules are the problem in Armstrong’s wastewater.”
The Best Integrated Human Practices Award was presented for the community outreach efforts the Broad Run team undertook. The team hosted several educational events for young children with hands-on activities and held public forums at Broad Run. (Their events included participation by more than 900 students.)