A Bioengineering student team from Ashesi University has won Silver at the 2022 International Genetically Engineered Machine Foundation (iGEM) competition in Paris, France. Building on previous iGEM team research at Ashesi, the 2022 team designed a biosensor that can detect the presence of gold in land and make prospecting more efficient. By doing so, the project broadly sought to reduce cost, land degradation and the loss of lives during the gold mining process. Along with the silver medal, the team also won the Impact Grant and Biosecurity Grant from iGEM.
The Ashesi team comprised Ashesi students Michael Boateng ’22, Trish Maduche ’22, Rosemond Tawiah ’22, Edith Boakye ’23, Vera Bordah ’22, Gideon Bonsu ’23, Elijah Boateng ’23, Leeroy Magora ’25; and visiting students from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology Sandra Acquah and Betty Essien. The Ashesi team also collaborated with colleagues from Goethe University in Germany, Exeter in the United Kingdom, and Stony Brook University in the USA.
“We communicated with Ghana’s minerals commission and reached out to large-scale mining corporations to share our work,” explained Trish Maduche ’22. “They gave us information about current mining processes and provided feedback on our project that we incorporated into our proposed solution.”
The iGEM competition is an annual, worldwide synthetic biology competition that allows student researchers to design, build, and test their system using interchangeable biological parts and standard molecular biology techniques. Some 350 teams participated in the competition this year. To be awarded a silver medal, teams must demonstrate engineering success, clearly show that their work is good for the world, meaningfully collaborate with other universities, and demonstrate the real-world application of their project.
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