Team:Montgomery Cougars NJUSA/Extras/Human Practices



Human Practices

Our Mission

Our Mission Statement: Montgomery iGEM’s fundamental goal is to inspire the next generation of synthetic biologists, doctors, biomedical engineers and STEM professionals through immersion in a challenging and innovative program that allows students of MHS to explore concepts of applied biology.

In Montgomery iGEM, students will be exposed to real life laboratory experiences beyond the classroom. Students learn the fundamentals of synthetic biology through experiments, community networking and sharing products at the international competitions at the conclusion of every season. By working directly with cells, genes, plasmids and bacteria, students can become inspired to work in applied sciences such as medicine, biochemistry and engineering. In addition to the hands-on aspect of iGEM, students were encouraged to actively research and understand the science behind the labwork. Upperclassmen and teacher advisers gave class lessons to teach the underclassmen, which successfully peaked both their interest and understanding of the biology part of iGEM.

Original Montgomery Cougars NJUSA team.jpg

The goal of Montgomery iGEM is not only to inspire students’ futures, but also to give them opportunities to contribute to the scientific community in the present. We hope that this program will positively impact the STEM education within the community. Through working with the other STEM clubs, teams and activities within the Montgomery co-curricular system, Montgomery iGEM hopes to become fully integrated into STEM within our school. We, however, hope to provide a different side of STEM education than the Robotics teams and other STEM clubs do. Instead of working with gears, wheels and drill presses, students will be able to work with DNA to program bacteria and cells, potentially drawing the blueprints for the next radiation detector, synthetic circuit, or even a cure for cancer.

Our Impact

One of the most prevalent problems plaguing adolescents around the world is acne. Acne is understood as skin blemishes caused by clogged pores as a result of dead skin cells and oil. With our project, we aim to reduce the occurrence of acne by targeting one step in the way acne is produced. Through this goal, we strive to create a product that is more effective and safer than leading commercial acne reducing creams.

In addition to our project, we hope to provide research that helps others understand the causes of acne and how it develops. As the only hands-on biology-related extracurricular activity in Montgomery High School, we have the opportunity to spread awareness on not only acne, but also on synthetic biology as a whole. Through these efforts, we aim to expand students' interests in and the community's exposure to biological studies.

Our Outreach

Montgomery iGEM was founded on the premise of inspiring the next generation of STEM professionals. One way we seek to do this is through community service. We currently hold a biannual Shoprite fundraiser to raise awareness for the organization and earn money for our club. In the future, we plan on doing presentations at our Montgomery Board of Education meetings and freshman orientation to broaden our spectrum. We also plan on doing presentations throughout our school and participating in the district wide STEM board to increase the curriculum in our entire district.

Community Outreach

In our school, we are able to promote our team through the school newspaper by writing articles about our mission and our project for the year. This allows us to reach out to a large audience within our high school. In addition to this, we have a close tie with the local Shoprite supermarket; this gives us the opportunity to promote our team in the local community. For fundraising, we participated in Shoprite bagging. We handed out small slips of paper about the club and spoke to customers about our project. Through this, we were able to meet specific individuals who were knowledgeable in synthetic biology. We have developed into a sustainable team with over 20 avid members that are eager to take part in synthetic biology.

  • Emily Ma ShopRite Bagging.jpg Emily Ma (Class of 2015, Secretary)
  • Ankit ShopRite Bagging.jpg Ankit Shah (Class of 2016, Underclassmen Representative)
  • Kevin Shen ShopRite Bagging.jpg Kevin Shen (Class of 2015, Operations)
  • Bhargav Resch shoprite.jpg Bharghav Vemulapalli (Class of 2016, Operations) and Mr. Resch (Advisor)
  • Sarah Oh ShopRite Bagging.jpg Sarah Oh (Class of 2015, Librarian)


President: In charge of all activities and coordinates all team projects including website, financial administration, team structuring, meeting curriculums, lab procedures and organization.

Vice President: Assists the President and helps with all responsibilities.

Systems Manager: Responsible for promoting the team on the team wiki, and online documentation. Will work with the Operations to support team structure. Required web design skills.

Community Liaison: Responsible for community outreach including fundraising, sponsorship, and promotion of STEM in the community. This will include presentations for organizations, documentation of monetary exchanges, organizing fundraisers and promoting the team.

Secretary: Responsible for taking notes and informing absent club members of what they missed. Secretary will also be responsible for documenting attendance for members.

Librarian: Responsible for organizing and distributing information packets to members. It is the librarian’s job to make sure all members have an idea of what they are doing. The librarian will also work with the advisor to create packets and lesson plans. (Recommended Biology knowledge).

Underclassmen Representatives (2): Conveys underclassmen opinions to the board. Works in conjunction with the librarian to distribute basic information to underclassmen. Ideally, one freshman and one sophomore. Responsible for making sure all underclassmen understand material.

Research and Development Subteam Leader: Responsible for overseeing and controlling the quality of laboratory work. Responsible for sharing laboratory procedures and making sure all procedures are safe and uncontaminated. Must be present for most labs from start to finish.

Operations Subteam Leader: Responsible for overseeing the functions of the team and keeping the internal structure strong and organized. Will work closely with the Community Liason, Secretary, Librarian and Underclassmen representative to improve the functions of the team.

What makes a good leader?

Self-Awareness. You have an intimate knowledge of your inner emotional state. You know your strengths and your weaknesses. You know when you’re working in flow and you know when you’re over worked. You know yourself, including your capabilities and your limitations, which allows you to push yourself to your maximum potential.

Self-Direction. You’re able to direct yourself effectively and powerfully. You know how to get things done, how to organize tasks and how to avoid procrastination. You know how to generate energy for projects, to calm yourself when angered. You can make decisions quickly when necessary, but can also slow to consider all the options on the table.

Vision. You’re working towards a goal that’s greater than yourself. It could be something small, like the success of the team, or a larger vision like world peace. Working towards a vision is far more inspiring than working towards personal gain.

Ability to Motivate. Leaders don’t lead by telling people what they have to do. Instead, leaders cause people to want to help them. A key part of this is cultivating your own desire to help others. When others sense that you want to help them, they in turn want to help you.

Social Awareness. Understanding social networks and key influences in that social network is another key part of leadership. Who in the organization has the most clout, both officially and unofficially? Who moves the hearts of the group?

These are some of the most important characteristics of good leaders. While we have defined leadership positions, our board acted more as a joint effort to organize all aspects of the club this year. Everyone picked up slack where needed and worked coherently to build up the team that we have today.