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Meet geekStarter’s 2017-18 middle-school and high-school teams

On December 1st, geekStarter welcomed its 2017-2018 middle-school and high-school teams.

We are excited to welcome them and wish them good luck on their projects!

geekStarter teams intermingled and collaborated on entrepreneurial exercises at geekStarter's startup workshop on December 2nd.

geekStarter teams mingling and collaborating at geekStarter’s startup workshop on December 2nd

  • Father Patrick Mercredi High School: RSports Robotics Group – Fort McMurray

The team is building several robots to help with problems from their immediate community. One of their robots will be used as tackle dummy at practices of their school’s football team. Another robot will help in inspecting steep surfaces which people cannot reach. The team will also continue to work on the bear decoy robot they started last year. The bear robot is used in training dogs to scare away real bears at remote work places. Other robotics projects focus on new forms of transportation, and underwater research. The team also plans to compete in various competitions such as FIRST Lego League (FLL), VEX Robotics, and FIRST Robotics.

  • Lethbridge High School iGEM Team – Lethbridge

Based at University of Lethbridge, and recently returned from the iGEM 2017 Giant Jamboree with a silver medal for their SynthetINK project, the team will soon start recruiting new members and launch its 2018 iGEM activities. This team has been the longest on geekStarter’s high-school roster, and we look forward to working together again in the 2017-18 season.

  • NEXUS Robotics – Calgary

This team works out of Protospace and brings together students from several high schools from across Calgary. Registered to participate in the 2018 FIRST Robotics competition, the team’s original work will use autonomous behaviour algorithms to make their remotely-controlled robot capable of detecting and avoiding collisions. The team will participate in First Robotics regional competitions where they will test their robot and its autonomous control mechanism, and learn how to improve it.

  • Notre Dame Collegiate Synthetic Biology Team – High River

Betting on the experience and skills accumulated over the past two geekStarter seasons, this team has big plans for 2018; they will participate in the iGEM competition, for the first time. With guidance from their mentors, the team deemed the project they were working on last year – an ovulation detection device for natural family planning purposes – as too ambitious, and they are  selecting a new project. It will either be something to break down fat that clogs sewage and drains, or a device to protect crops from freezing.

  • Our Lady of the Snows Synthetic Biology and Robotics Club – Canmore

Last year, this team used design thinking to come up with a new project, which they will take to the 2018 iGEM competition. Now in their 5th geekStarter year, the team has set their bar high and wants to combine synthetic biology and robotics to improve the sorting of recyclable plastics.  The plan is to build synthetic biology constructs for tagging plastics, and sort the bio-tagged plastics with help from a robot.

  • Ross Sheppard High School Innovation Club – Edmonton

Now in their second year with us, this robotics team will continue to grow their skills and build their various projects, most of which are intended for their own school community. This season, the team wants to improve the autonomous capabilities of the First Person View (FPV) drone and the Remotely Controlled (RC) vehicle they built last year, with the goal of gathering data and visual information from around their school. They also plan to design and build a humanoid robot that can do a signature move representing their school’s spirit.

  • Ted Harrison School: Design Thinking Club – Calgary

An expansion of the Biodesign club started two years ago at Ted Harrison school, the new design thinking club will focus on three problems, two of which are new to them while the third is a continuation from last year. The students will explore the problem of osteoporosis and possible treatments involving synthetic biology. They also want to build a robot to help with cleaning up public spaces. In addition, the team will continue last year’s project on removing pesticides from water, which will give new team members the opportunity to collaborate with older team members and alums and learn from them.

RebelBio: For Aspiring Entrepreneurs in Life Sciences

RebelBio: For Aspiring Entrepreneurs in Life Sciences


Do you feel a strong urge to commercialize your project or research into something that the world needs? 

RebelBio, the world’s first early-stage life-sciences accelerator is seeking applications from ambitious scientists and entrepreneurs for its 2018 programs.

RebelBio will invest up to $250,000, along with extensive business and scientific mentoring during a three-month long program, which will take place in London from January 8th to April 8th 2018.

For an overview of the program, visit this link.

To apply, go here


Spotlight on geekStarters: Chris Isaac

Spotlight on geekStarters: Chris Isaac

Chris Isaac – member of ULethbridge iGEM team and dedicated geekStarter mentor – shares tips for designing successful bioengineering projects at the Lab skills workshop held at University of Lethbridge in March 2017


10 Quick Questions for Chris

  1. How would you describe yourself in one sentence?

Something along the lines of a jack of all trades and a master of none: picking up the skills I need to know as I go.

  1. What do you love the most about your work/school?

Having recently begun my Master’s at the University of Lethbridge, I most enjoy the freedom associated with studying at a higher level. While you have objectives that need to be met in your research program, it’s also possible to enjoy the full support of faculty in pursuing additional academic projects even if they don’t perfectly align with your supervisor’s laboratory goals.

  1. What is your best accomplishment so far?

Most recently, I had the good fortune to collaborate with wonderful people on the Lethbridge Collegiate iGEM team while working on a fantastic project. As a result of our efforts, we were nominated for several awards at the international level. I’m very proud of our team and the part that I played in helping us to that success.

  1. What is something you are working towards right now?

There are always several irons in the fire, but there are two really cool things happening right now. The first is my academic research into picking apart disease pathways that are common to both Alzheimer Disease and Cancer. The second is a personal research project wherein I develop software to address biosecurity concerns in order to keep DNA synthesis and synthetic biology safe.

  1. How do you like to spend your downtime?

I really enjoy a subset of rock climbing called bouldering. It’s much closer to the ground, but the moves are generally much more interesting than roped climbing. In the summer it’s also a fantastic excuse to get outside!

  1. What is something you can’t imagine your life without?

I cannot imagine life without a free and open internet. The power that it provides for innovation, collaboration, research, and expression is not likely to be surpassed in the near future and is integral to every part of my life. The Internet is a utility that should be available for all.

  1. What is one thing that people will be surprised to hear about you?

People might be surprised to learn that I know every word to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton”. And they’re certainly surprised when the singing begins.

  1. What is something you are afraid of?

Lately I’ve been concerned by the changing rhetoric surrounding science and its value in society and policy. Evidence-based decision-making should be the foundation of a good government that serves civic interests above corporate interests.

  1. What would you like your work to be ten years from now?

In ten years I would like to have solved the problem of predicting what my work will be in the future! We’ll see which way the wind blows, but I would love to be involved in as many cool projects as possible. Perhaps asteroid mining will be the next big thing. Stay tuned.

  1. What is one thing you appreciate about geekStarter?

I appreciate the mission of geekStarter, and the overarching goal to promote science literacy and excellence within our province. Alberta is a hotbed of talent and is uniquely positioned to be a scientific and economic leader within Canada and abroad. geekStarter helps build strong networks that allow for education, mentorship, and innovation within Alberta, within Canada, and with partners abroad.