Brian Cox helps students clean up

Brian Cox and the iGEM team demonstrating a different kind of mop!
Brian Cox and the iGEM team demonstrating a different kind of mop!

Dundee University rector Brian Cox is supporting undergraduates from Forfar and Kirriemuir taking part in an international competition.

Rachel Findlay from Forfar and Kyle Buchan from Kirriemuir are part of the university team which has entered the highly competitive, worldwide, International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Competition aimed at undergraduate university students.

The 2013 Dundee inter-collegiate team comprises 10 undergraduate students: Kyle Harrison (applied computing), Nasir Ahmad (physics), Craig Johnston (mathematics), Rachel Findlay (mathematical biology), as well as Christopher Earl, Philip Rodger, Ewa Grabowiecka, Kyle Buchan, John Allan and Alice Rowan from Life Sciences.

The team has devised a project entitled ‘Toxi-Mop’ to clean up local water reservoirs contaminated with toxic algal bloom.

The rector paid an impromptu visit to meet the team and was very impressed by their project.

The competition requires students to use a kit of biological parts and use them (and new parts of their own design) to build biological systems and operate them in living cells at laboratories in their own Universities.

‘Toxi-mop’, will use synthetic biology to engineer harmless laboratory strains of bacteria to ‘clean up’ water contaminated with toxic algal blooms. This is particularly timely given the recent warm weather, which has led to algal blooms in Clatto Reservoir and in the boating pond at Camperdown Country Park. Brian Cox was particularly impressed with the interdisciplinary nature of the team and that undergraduates will be working closely with researchers in world-class research laboratories to develop their ideas, skills and knowledge. He has pledged to help them in their quest to secure a gold medal at the European iGEM Jamboree in Lyon.