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UCSC iGem 2016: Sugar Slugs

Raised toward our $25,000 Goal
85 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on August 28, at 11:30 AM PDT
Project Owners

UCSC iGem 2016: Sugar Slugs

Who We Are

iGEM is an international competition dedicated to education and the advancement of synthetic biology. For this year’s team, we have assembled an interdisciplinary group of 17 undergraduates with the common goal of creating a better world through science and engineering.

This project presents an unparalleled opportunity for talented students to gain hands-on experience, as well as learn to collaborate and communicate effectively in large team environments. The students lead, design, and built the project themselves, and in doing so, develop the critical analytical and independent problem-solving skills that are difficult to cultivate within the classroom. The project also calls upon a wide array of disciplines, such as microbial engineering, bioinformatics, bioreactor design, and finance, which grant students a comprehensive understanding of what it takes to complete ambitious projects in a real-world environment.

Lastly, we are not just completing a project--we’re building a team. The dedicated students of the iGEM team are working 40+ hours each week, and are developing their project management and teamwork skills all the while. We believe that through the ambitious projects of today, we are building the leaders and scientific innovators of tomorrow.  


Engineering a Better Future

The world of crop production is laden with agricultural co-products that are unfit for human consumption. The vision of the UCSC iGEM team is to develop a novel process for converting these co-products into the high-value sweetener, Erythritol. It’s simple, sweet, and best of all, zero-calorie.

Ever wanted a bioreactor you can control at the click of a button? Our team is also designing and building our very own autonomous bioreactor, the Taris V1. Whether its temperature, pH, nutrient uptake, or beyond, our bioreactor will also monitor and feed its internal conditions into an online interface where users can seamlessly track their data and change conditions as they see fit. Talk about convenience.

With its low cost and ease-of-use, we hope our Taris V1 bioreactor can serve as a platform for other teams across the globe to create innovative solutions to real-world problems.



A project of this ambition takes money, and that’s why we need your help. The project budget is split between costs for reagents, lab materials, and bioreactor parts as well as for transportation to the iGEM Jamboree. The iGEM competition culminates in the Jamboree held in Boston, where all of the teams, judges, and local community come to celebrate and display this year’s work.

It is an unfortunate fact that each year, many of the iGEM students are not able to attend simply due to costs. With your help, our team members could present the accomplishments they dedicated their last 16 weeks towards; and in doing so enjoy the experience of a lifetime.

If you are interested in seeing our budget, click here!

All charitable gifts are tax-deductible, and if you are interested in making in-kind donations please contact Make your gift today to join our team in engineering a sweeter future!


To keep up to date with the team and learn more: 

*Also a very warm and special thanks to Ian Santos, without whom our beautiful video would not be possible. Check out his website for more!

Our way
of Thanking You


Personalized Thank You Email

Please let us thank you for your support with a personal email from one of our team members

20 of Unlimited Claimed
Estimated Delivery: November 2016


Handwritten Thank You Card

Allow us to send you a handwritten thank you letter from one of our team members expressing our appreciation of your support and giving a personal account of the project experience and our immediate plans.

14 of Unlimited Claimed
Estimated Delivery: August 2016


Signed Photo with All Members

Thank you for your help! To remember us, we’re going to send you photos of us at work on the project, as well as a team photo with signatures from all of our team members!

21 of Unlimited Claimed
Estimated Delivery: August 2016


Meeting with Dr. David Bernick

Thank you for your support in our endeavor! In addition to the Signed Photo with all the Members, you may set up a meeting with our advisor Dr. Bernick to discuss his research, his experience with iGEM, past and future goals, stock market, etc. Your business logo or name will also be included in our websites acknowledgements page and in our jamboree presentation.

5 of Unlimited Claimed
Estimated Delivery: August 2016


Tour of the Research Lab

Thank you so much for your generous contribution! In addition to the meeting with Dr. Bernick and a signed photo, come take a personal tour of the UCSC iGEM lab where we are hard at work all summer, see the experiments we’re running and how we analyze our results. You’ll get to meet all the members of the team as well as our advisers.

4 of Unlimited Claimed
Estimated Delivery: December 2016


Engraved Name on Bioreactor

This a deluxe award for only the most dedicated of donors. In addition to the previous perks, your name will be permanently engraved onto the first Taris V1 bioreactor, where it will live in the glory of scientific innovation and synthetic biology history.

5 of 10 Claimed
Estimated Delivery: December 2016


Your Own Taris Bioreactor Kit

The best of the best---you, generous donor, will get your very own Taris V1 Bioreactor kit. Whether you want to brew beer, biofuel, or even some sweeteners, this bioreactor gives you the freedom to take the power of biology into your own hands. All previous perks included.

1 of 5 Claimed
Estimated Delivery: December 2016