Team:Montgomery Cougars NJUSA/Extras/Testimonials



Neha Chhugani


"For me, this year in iGEM has been a gratifying experience. IGEM has given us the opportunity to act on our passions in ways that I never thought possible. I was sure that we wouldn’t have the opportunity to conduct biological experiments with recombinant DNA or research RNA and protein systems for ourselves until college. However, through the student-run nature of iGEM, we were able to accomplish both these tasks in an atmosphere that realistically resembled the real world. Unlike carefully controlled school labs where we were basically given the answers, iGEM gave us the unique opportunity to experiment in a trial, error, and reflection process. My lab group’s initial failure in the pGLO experiment actually inspired us to research more into bacterial transformation. Then our initial plight in researching a potential solution to Acne Vulgaris after referencing several scientific studies did nothing but motivate us to continue on with our quest. The entire iGEM experience has instilled in me an excitement with learning, synthetic biology, and the research process, as well as an enhanced appreciation for the complexities of life. Even though my future is a mystery, I can now say with certainty, its path is being pulled by the forces of biology."

Pankti Kothari


“I joined iGEM at the beginning of this year unsure of what to expect besides what I had heard about it from my brother who actually founded the iGEM team at his college and pursued the major of bio-medical engineering as an undergraduate. As a junior, the time to begin college applications, determine what college I would like to attend, but most of all determine what field I would want to enter, ominously approaches. I was lost for a majority of this year as I could not seem to find my ‘passion’. However, I decided to take part in this club to see what my brother found so fascinating about it and also to see if it would help me find a direction for my future. To say the least, iGEM has influenced me in a way I had really hoped it would. Through this club, I have learned so much about the fundamentals of synthetic biology, such as the processes of gene expression. While participating in the pGLO lab I was given a hands-on opportunity to insert a plasmid into the DNA of E.coli bacteria. This lab showed me how delicate biological processes are because our group had unfortunately failed to accomplish this task. However, it was all a learning experience and from that lab I have been more eager to know what went wrong and to redo it successfully. I also learned a lot about the pathogenesis of Acne Vulgaris which is the main issue we are targeting. I found it so interesting that we can use biology to create something that could attack problems everyday humans face and this has allowed me to appreciate science, specifically biology as a whole. I remember one day my team members and I were researching furiously to find a way we could use alcohol dehydrogenase to solve our main problem and after a significant period of disappointment we discovered how wax esters could act as the connection we needed. My friend had jokingly told me, ‘So this is how scientists will feel when they find the cure to cancer’. Of course that is a little different, but that experience got me really excited and it allowed me to immerse myself into the project. Overall, iGEM has truly allowed me to see biology in a new light and has influenced me to possibly continue this field of study in the future."

Junlan Lu


“iGEM this year has been such a wonderful experience. Even though I still have much to learn, iGEM has exposed me to so many new topics. I really enjoyed the labs we performed, especially the pGLO lab, because it helped me realize that research requires much patience and meticulous planning. The labs also helped me gain an understanding of how bacterial gene regulation differs from eukaryotic gene regulation, and how the products of gene expression can in turn affect regulation. It’s interesting how many of the sciences come together in biology; chemistry is essential for understanding the molecular properties of a system, while physics is essential for understanding energy, the fundamental laws governing existential things, and building the tools used in biological research. Math and computers are also extensively used to model systems and perform calculations. Biology integrates all of these fields and applies that knowledge to understand the implications for a living system. I find this level of collaboration fascinating, and it’s something I want to explore in the future. I have iGEM to thank for broadening my horizon."

Mritika Contractor


"iGEM at Montgomery High School was a lot fun and I learned many things through my involvement. I didn’t understand things at first, never having taken a formal course in biology, and I failed to see biology for what it was. I at first saw it as a body of boring facts to memorize, however, as we gradually started to learn about enzymes, proteins, and the process of engineering biological circuits, I became fascinated by the junction between biology and engineering. Before I thought biology was just about understanding cellular and organismal processes, but iGEM has allowed me to see biology in a different perspective; biology can be highly innovative and used to make tangible products. The pGlo lab was one of my favorite activities of the year since it was cool to see the numerous colonies that grew and how they glowed under the UV light! Overall, Montgomery iGEM had a great start for its first year and I greatly enjoyed my time! I highly look forward to next year."

Bhargav Vemulapalli


“When my brother came back from college (or as I like to say, rejoined my household), he came back with many stories and one of them was about his "adventure" of finding a major. In fact, he changed majors three times; however, he did find a major that he was truly in love with - Biomedical Engineering. I decided to pick up one of his biology textbooks and have loved synthetic biology ever since. I have always been a science/math person, but at times, the school curriculum seemed like a series of closed doors. However, when I first encountered synthetic biology through iGEM, I saw how much future potential the field had. I now see biology as a new frontier of knowledge, and, following in the footsteps of my brother, I plan on studying Biomedical Engineering to satisfy my love for synthetic biology and helping others. I attribute my decision to iGEM.”

Murray Chen


"Joining iGEM as a senior, I was laughed at by a few of my friends, since we would be graduating high school this year. However, it was a decision that I do not regret. After taking AP Biology with Mr. Resch during our junior year, I became extremely intrigued by cellular systems and DNA/RNA pathways. The material we learned as part of the AP curriculum seemed to just barely brush upon the surface of biotechnology and innovations to come. iGEM has allowed me to apply my knowledge and inspired me to independently learn more about the true potential of biology. All in all, iGEM has made a positive impact on my life and pushes me to strive toward higher goals."

Aman Kishore


"iGEM has significantly impacted my life. While I was new to biology and scientific protocol prior to my involvement, I was able to learn about the cellular properties of bacteria, their interactions in a colony, and how tiny changes at the molecular level can lead to large-scale changes through iGEM. I have also learned about the fundamentals of lab procedure and safety, which I hope to apply in future lab experiments. While I have only scratched the surface, I’ve gained a full appreciation for the vast body of knowledge that science constitutes, and I’m motivated to continually expand my understanding. This has been a highly rewarding experience for me, as I greatly enjoyed having fun with friends, completing labs and learning about biology. iGEM will provide with valuable experience as I pursue my dream of becoming a biomedical engineer."

Mayank Kishore


"Being a first year club, Montgomery iGem has really grown in leaps and bounds. This club is organized helps all of the grade learn the concepts of bio medical engineering. Learning about how genetic engineering works is much more interesting than I thought it was going to be when I first joined the club. Already being geared towards science and math, this STEM related program has helped me delve farther into my personal interests. In my opinion Montgomery iGem is a great program to teach children a subject which is not covered in school."

Avi Boppana


"iGEM teaches many valuable laboratory and research skills, including common biotech procedures such as DNA ligation, the proper usage of lab implements such as the micropipette, the formation and evaluation of hypotheses and proper experimental design. I have also realized that scientific research involves a significant amount of time and hard work and often results in failure, but also that it is ultimately very rewarding. Looking at the final results of our lab, I can’t help but smile and feel proud of what we have accomplished. Synthetic biology has huge potential for improving people’s lives, and iGEM provides an experience that is highly relevant for those pursuing careers in science, one that has sparked my passion for synthetic biology."