Team:Sorbonne U Paris/Team



Meet us...

Darine Ben Elbey

Hello, I am Darine, a 2nd-year master’s student in Biology. I am specializing in Immunology and I aspire to become a Project Manager in the bio-industry. Joining the iGem team was for me the perfect opportunity to have a sneak peek of all the work around a project conception. I learned how to work with people with different backgrounds to achieve a common project. It also helped me to create a real network of people in different fields. Through all the process and the difficulties, I met a lot of really good people. That is what I will remember the most from iGEM!

Mathilde Bied

Hello! My name is Mathilde, I am in my second year of a master's degree in immuno-oncology. I would like to do a Ph.D. and then work in cancer research. I joined iGEM to challenge myself, to learn new skills, to meet new people. The least we can say is that it was very challenging indeed! I am very grateful for this experience which has allowed me to grow and meet wonderful people!

Lucie Diby

My name is Lucie, I am a second-year master’s student in immunology at Sorbonne University. Following my master’s degree, I aspire to work in research and development in immunology. I wanted to participate in a concrete project. iGEM allowed me to develop skills such as budgeting and event organization. I really enjoyed sharing this experience with my team!

Maïa Henry

I am Maïa, I study microbial ecology at the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle (MNHN). I would like to do a thesis after my Master’s degree. I am particularly interested in virology, metagenomics, and chemical ecology and for this reason, I would like to do viromics using the new chemistry tools available for environmental studies. I love the iGEM adventure because it gives unprecedented freedom to its participants to create and realize a scientific project. Imagining a project that resembles the members of our team was a wonderful experience!

Maëva Lassay

Hi! I am Maëva, a student at Sorbonne University in the second year of my master’s in Biotechnology. After my studies, I would like to lead research on new eco-responsible technologies inspired by nature. iGEM taught me how to manage a project from A to Z and gave me new skills that will be useful for my future. Through this adventure I also met new and exciting people, I think that's the secret of iGEM!

Théodore Michielin

Bonjour! I’m Theodore, head of the wet lab of my iGEM team. It is with great enthusiasm that I joined this adventure because of my passion for synthetic biology and my taste for entrepreneurship. I look forward to pursuing my career in this discipline in order to meet the next great challenges of humanity.

Paul Nollot

Hey, my name is Paul and I'm studying agri-food industry at Polytech Sorbonne. This is my last year and participating in iGEM has inspired me to apply biotechnologies in the food industry, which is facing new challenges. I would like to work in the development of synthetic meats and iGEM was an amazing way to tackle such a project. I learned a lot of skills that will be useful in my career. Working with a team with the same motivations is also something I love about iGEM. After all, we go further by working as a team!

Sophiane Poissonnier

Hi there, I'm Sophiane, a 24 years old student at Sorbonne University, in my second year of a master’s degree specialised in biotechnologies. I'm very interested in genetics and pharmaceutical development. After graduating I’d love to be an R&D engineer in a biotech company and develop new therapy improving human health! Regarding my role in iGEM, I am the treasurer of our association but I'm also very involved in the wet lab. Thanks to iGEM, I met so many great people, I learned a lot about how to be independent in my scientific research and how to work as a team. I feel very grateful!

Sofija Popovic

Hello! I’m Sofija, a second year Master’s student in Genetics and Epigenetics. After my Master’s I’d like to do a PhD in the same domain and become a researcher afterwards. Besides my enthusiasm for Genetics, I enjoy knitting, crocheting and reading. I decided to join iGEM because it seemed like a challenging but interesting project, and I can now say that it really is the case. I’m also very grateful for the people I’ve met along the way.

Jasper Zweistra

Hello! My name is Jasper. I am 26 year old and I’ve been studying at Sorbonne University since 2020. It is not other than a blessing to change the Netherlands for an opportunity to study in such a majestic city. My major is in Developmental biology and I study history too. Hopefully, this master will not be the end of my time at the university: I would love to pursue an academic career ideally in fundamental research linked to a translational field. I had a lot of fun exploring different potential avenues of the project and working together to write and implement the project.


Team work

  • Darine Ben Elbey :As head of digital communication, she managed our social media, organised and participated in different collaborations.
  • Mathilde Bied : Head of events, education and human practices. She also worked on the promotional video and the wiki redaction.
  • Lucie Diby :She was involved in education, events and collaborations. She also helped Sophiane with the funding research and she participated in the experimentations.
  • Maïa Henry : Phytoplankton specialist, she worked in the project's design, protocol writing and experimentations during the summer. She was also involved in education, events and collaborations.
  • Maëva Lassay : As team manager, she was in charge of the smooth running of the project. She was also involved in events, education and collaborations and worked on the videos and the wiki redaction.
  • Théodore Michielin : As head of the dry lab, he managed the project design, protocol writing and experiments during the summer.
  • Paul Nollot : As team manager, he was in charge of the smooth running of the project. He also was involved in project design and protocol writing and worked on education and events.
  • Sophiane Poissonnier : As treasurer, she managed the funding research for our project. She was also involved in education, events and she worked in the wet lab.
  • Sofija Popovic : She was involved in digital communication, events and collaborations. She also worked on the project's design and protocol writing.
  • Jasper Zweistra : As Wiki programming manager he learned how to code with HTML to help Fabien. He was also involved in the project design and protocol writing.


Our instructors Frédérique Perronet, Marco Da Costa and Pierre Crozet supported us and advised us throughout the iGEM experience. Thanks to their advice we have put together a project that we are proud of. Pierre Crozet, welcomed us to the Quantitative and Computational Biology laboratory and shared his expertise on Chlamydomonas for the writing of the protocols.

Lab support

  • Alexandra Carbone, Director of the laboratory of Quantitative and Computational Biology Laboratory for welcoming us in the lab, and all the people working there for their support and good humor.
  • Nicolas Cornille (Research engineer), Félix de Carpentier (postdoc), Nicolas Boisset (PhD candidate) and Théo Le Moigne(PhD candidate) for providing us wet lab materials and assisting us in our daily experiments.
  • Christophe Piesse, for providing us with our peptide.

Special thanks

  • Christophe Lasseur>, for his advice and encouragement in our project. Thank you also for putting us in relation with Natalie Leys.
  • Adrienne Kish, for all her help and advice for our project. Thank you for allowing us to test the effect of radiation on our samples.
  • Natalie Leys, Head of the Microbiology Research Unit and Space Research Program coordinator at the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre, For her opinion on our project, for giving us the opportunity to send our samples, and for putting us in contact with Jana Fahrion.
  • Jana Fahrion, PhD candidate at the Belgian Nuclear Research Center in Nathalie Leys’s Microbiology Research Unit for her work, exposing our strain to cosmic radiations.

Other mentionable support


  • Tamara Babin, graphic designer, defined our graphic identity and designed our logo and icons. Thank you for the magnificent tote bag and for taking our team photos.
  • Nikita Menezes Braganca, scientific graphic designer for Obleek Design, illustrated our project and all the results. She also diagrammed the key stages of our experimentation.
  • Fabien Mourlin, our savior who helped us code our wiki. Thank you for being patient and doing the impossible for us.


  • Isabella, founder of Harnessing Sight, a blog that aims to dismantle prejudice on disability. Thanks for sharing your story, and for your intel on how to make science more accessible.

Communication and Education support

  • Amine Jawari and Cédric Lopez, Respectively in charge of campus life programming/scene manager and in charge of the Campus Life and Student Initiatives Unit within the Solidarity Fund for the Development of Student Initiatives (FSDIE) of Sorbonne University. (Pourquoi on les remercie ?)
  • Valérie Lerouyer, in charge of scientific mediation at the Cité des Sciences et de l'industrie in Paris, she invited us to participate at the Fête de la Science event at the Cité des Sciences. We are very grateful for her advice and good humor.
  • Thibault Vallette and his team accompanied us during the preparation of the science fest at Sorbonne University.
  • Yasmine Bellagha welcomed us to her class and trusted us for leading practical workshops with her students.
  • Manuel Ferreira teacher at Doudeauville School. He provided precious intel on our teaching approach and welcomed us to his class to perform our workshop.
  • Michelina Nascimbeni, our contact in La main à la pâte foundation. She guided us on our workshop project in elementary school and put us in touch with Manuel Ferreira to make it happen.
  • Sophia Richard, president of Je Science donc Je suis. She gave us the opportunity to tell our story through articles.
  • Irène Tanneur, in charge on the podcast at Je Science donc Je suis. She interviewed us and gave us the opportunity to shed light on our project and student initiative.
  • Claude Yepremian, researcher at the Museum of Natural History. We thank him for having provided us with bioluminescent algae for the school workshops.
  • Baptiste D’Urso, helped us in the genesis of our project by providing us with intel on radioresistance.


Sorbonne université

  • Polytech
  • Promega
  • Crowdfunding
  • New England BioLab
  • Geneious

French Meetup

The french teams (IONIS, Bettencourt, UParis, Evry, Nantes, Aix-Marseille, INSA-Toulouse UPS, GO Paris-Saclay) first got together in May, it was the opportunity to get to know each other and talk about our project and the difficulties that come with it. We created a discord channel together to facilitate communication and mutual support. We then started to plan the French meetup.

On September 11th, the French teams hosted an online event. During this event, each team had the opportunity to present their project during a 10 minutes presentation. We also invited three speakers who gave diverse and complementary presentations.

The first speaker was Manish Kushwaha, a researcher in synthetic biology at the Micalis Institute (INRAe).

The second speaker was Elodie Chabrol, a freelance science communicator who dedicated her career to making science accessible to everyone and everywhere after a Ph.D. in neurosciences. Elodie Chabrol presented her main tips to communicate around science. From social media strategies to choosing the right words, this presentation was really insightful!

The last speaker was Patrick Torbey, the co-founder of Neoplant, a french startup that aims to use synthetic biology to build plants with a purpose: fighting air pollution. Patrick Torbey presented the current landscapes of startups in synthetic biology. It was a great opportunity to show how creative scientists can be when it comes to resolving societal issues. Partick Torbey focused on startups working to find more ethical and ecological alternatives to meat.

Overall the meetup was a great experience, we learned a lot from the speakers and each other!

Erasmus + x iGEM Thrace: communicating about science

iGEM Thrace hosted a week-long event in collaboration with Erasmus from August 21st to August 28th in Alexandropouli, Greece. The event was focused on the different ways we could use art (dancing, theatre,...) to communicate about science.

Before we flew to Greece, we had the chance to meet all the participants through weekly zoom calls where we introduced ourselves and received information about what to expect during our trip. We also started to discuss the different ways we could communicate about science. Each team shared their own experience so far with communication. It was very interesting to see that we each had our own strategies!

Eventually, it was time to pack up and fly to Greece. We were very excited to meet other iGEM teams! The first few days were spent getting to know each other because, in order to learn to communicate about science, we first had to learn to communicate with each other. Team building activities were also essential to feel comfortable with each other. It is not always easy to let go in front of strangers, but it was important to be able to do so for the work we were about to do.

[Photo description: iGEM Team Members brainstorming around a table.]

The final objective of the week was to present a show on scientific topics that are important to us, in front of people of all ages and scientific backgrounds. To do this, we were divided into three groups. Each group had to choose a topic and create a small play around it. We had to do everything from the script to the costumes! Everyone was full of ideas during the brainstorming and it was a bit challenging to channel all this energy into writing our shows. In the end, communication was key and we were able to create something we all enjoyed!

As the performance approached, stage fright overcame everyone. To help us relax and prepare for the performance, iGEM Thrace organized an improvisation workshop. It was the perfect opportunity to become more comfortable with the stage and to strengthen our bond.

After a week of preparation, it was showtime! The first group decided to tackle climate change. A subject that is more important than ever, as Greece has been the victim of terrible fires this summer. They had prepared a play with four scenes, each one presenting a consequence of climate change: the mass extinction of species, the repeated forest fires, the melting of the ice and the rise of the sea level, and finally the abnormal weather phenomena such as heat waves or floods. At the end of their show, they ended flyers with simple gestures toward the planet. The second group found a creative way to explain how the covid vaccine works. They represented the human body as a castle protected by its guardians, the immune system. The idea was to show how these guards reacted when attacked and how the covid vaccine reinforced the protection provided by the guards. It was the perfect metaphor as it’s understandable by all! The last group wanted to introduce synthetic biology to the public. It was a real challenge as they needed to first introduce complicated notions such as the DNA, the ability to transform organisms… They decided to focus on the critical steps and simplify them as much as they could. It’s also always a sensitive topic to tackle as GMOs are often perceived as something dangerous that should be prohibited especially in Europe! In the end, it was a great success!

[Photo description: 4 Team members acting as trees et 2 others moving a red sheet representing fire.]

We are very proud of what we have achieved, what we have learned and the friendships we have made during this week. It was all made possible by the dedication of iGEM Thrace and the good spirit of all those who participated in the event. We were so grateful to finally have the opportunity to meet other iGEM teams in person. With covid, we weren't sure if the opportunity would arise. What we learned also gave us a new perspective on our communication strategy. As we still had events to plan at the end of the trip, such as the science fair, we used this new knowledge to create events tailored to our audience to best communicate our project.

[Photo description: All the team members (20) that participated in the project in a line after the representation.]

It was important for us to continue the Science Communication Project in France, therefore we realised a puppetry show around the Climate Change theme. We projected the act in front of students in High School, to sensibilize them on the subject. They really appreciated the short video and we discussed the environment issues of today.

[Description photo: Lucie et Darine projecting the video in front a high school class]

The labcoat Project

This year we wanted to plan a fun collab to get to know the other iGEM teams. We took inspiration from the movie “The sisterhood of the traveling pant”, a favorite of ours. The idea was to send a labcoat to different team all over the globe. Each team receiving the labcoat could let their imagination free and customize it as they wished to tell their story. For us, it was a way to get to know each other more deeply through art and in the end gaining a precious memory of our iGEM experience.

Thank you to iGEM Nantes, King’s College London, KU Leuven, Maastricht, Groningen, Stockholm and Brno for their beautiful piece of art!

Journal Initiative

We had the opportunity to collaborate with the Maastricht team on the Proceedings Journal. Their initiative was to create a peer-reviewed journal collecting articles on the project of different iGEM teams. After submitting our article we were asked to review one article written by another team. It was very interesting to put ourselves in the shoes of a scientist as writing and reviewing articles is a big part of their job! It’s always super interesting to learn new skills and discover the project of other teams especially when we get access to all the scientific details!

Article :Sorbonne Universite Chaperone molecules Draft

Postcards Dusseldorf

It has become an iGEM statement, each year Dusseldorf organizes a giant postcards exchange between iGEM teams from all over the world. This year we participated once again in the iGEM postcard project by sending our beautiful postcard drawn by our talented team leader, Maëva. We truly enjoyed learning about each team’s project as much as we enjoyed their beautiful illustrations.

[Photo description: A picture of all the postcards created by iGEM Teams from all around the world]

Rosalind Chronicle

Promoting the place of women in science is particularly close to our hearts. So when the iGEM teams in charge of the Rosalind Chronicle (iGEM Thessaloniki, Concordia, ULaval and Patras) contacted us and asked us to collaborate, we didn't hesitate for long! The task was to send a photo of all the women in our team as well as a photo of a woman scientist we admire and a short text explaining why. All the photos were used to create a timeline showing the impact of women on science throughout history.

[Image description: There is a purple and orange DNA molecule on the left side. Rosalind Chronicles is written in the middle. There’s a flower at the end of the word Rosalind ]

Link to the complete Timeline !

iGEM Monument Challenge

iGEM GO Paris-Saclay challenged us on Instagram to take pictures in front of a monument in our city. We decided to take a picture in front of the Palais du Luxembourg, a very beautiful place in Paris. This was a turning point for us, with the Covid restrictions, it was actually the first time we all met in person. This afternoon allowed us to bond and changed the dynamics of the team for the better. Thank you iGEM GO Paris-Saclay!

[Photo description: Lucie, Sophiane, Maëva, Maïa, Théodore et Paul sitting in the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris]

iJET Collab

We took part in the iJET collaboration organized by the iGEM team TU Darmstadt. The collaboration aimed to connect iGEM teams all over the world by passing around a paper plane. It’s such a creative way to link us even from far apart. We really enjoyed watching the final result!

[Photo description: top left: iGem Team member sending the plane to us; bottom right: iGem Sorbonne U Team members receiving the plane]

iGEM Nantes international video

The iGEM team from Nantes had for the project to create a video with team members all over the world saying hello in their native language to emphasize the international aspect of the iGEM competition during a presentation to highschool students. We took part in the project as we are always happy to say Bonjour! alongside our fellow iGEMers!

Playlist Spotify

[Photo description: The picture of the Collaborative Playlist]

We participated in the playlist created by the iGEM team of IISER Berhampur. As music is known to bring people together, they had the idea to create a collaborative playlist in which iGEM teams could add a song that represents their state of mind. We chose "Friend of Mine" by Avicii with Vargas and Lagola because the friendships we have built this year are one of the things we are most proud of.


Collaborations are essential during iGEM, it’s a good occasion to meet other teams and do fun projects. Those collaborations can go a step further and become partnerships. This year we had the opportunity to be involved in the Phototrophs collaboration gathering teams working with phototrophic organisms (Marburg, Biefeld, ASU, Aboa, LMSU, Linköping, Madrid, Miami, Toulouse, Victoria-Wellington teams). This partnership was initiated by the Marburg team and the Biefeld team. They organized four meetups with workshops, team presentations and troubleshooting sessions. The end goal of this partnership was to create a handbook on how to do synthetic biology with phototrophs.


Four meetups were organized, one each month between June and September. Scientists were invited each time to present either their research subject or a specific technique used on phototrophs. We especially enjoyed the workshop on the MoClo as we had planned to use it to build our construction. Rene Inckemann presented in detail the full logic and protocol which allowed us to better understand it. For most of our team members, we first heard about this technique and we had difficulties to really comprehend it so it was good to have someone experienced to give us an overview.

Four meetups were organized, one each month between June and September. Scientists were invited each time to present either their research subject or a specific technique used on phototrophs. We especially enjoyed the workshop on the MoClo as we had planned to use it to build our construction. Rene Inckemann presented in detail the full logic and protocol which allowed us to better understand it. For most of our team members, we first heard about this technique and we had difficulties to really comprehend it so it was good to have someone experienced to give us an overview.

Meetups were also the occasion to get to know the other teams, talk about each other’s projects and have some troubleshooting sessions. The slack created for the phototroph was also a great way to ask questions when we were a bit lost. It was really reassuring to know we could count on other people who were dealing with the same issues!

During the last two meetups after listening to experts, it was our turn to become ones. After all, we had gained experience and we had some experience and knowledge to share. During the third meetup, the team’s presentations were focused on the challenges faced while working with phototrophic organisms. During the last meetup, we talked more about the ethical and safety aspect of iGEM. It was the opportunity to show our work beyond the scientific aspects. We’ve decided to present how we communicated our project to the world through events, media and social networks. It was nice to have some feedback on our work especially because some events were still coming up. One thing that really came out of this meeting that we hadn’t really focused on before were the safety aspects and the way GMOs were viewed, especially in Europe. This meeting started a conversation in our team to try to challenge our project a bit and find the weaknesses regarding biosafety. As we are working on closed systems in space it was hard to find documentation on safety, we had pushed the issue to the side and it pushed us to tackle it at last.


The organizing teams offered to share our experience working with phototrophs in a handbook. This handbook aims to collect protocols, strategies and issues we had faced so the future iGEM team could learn from it and find resources when they’re trying to build their project or when they’re encountering issues. We contributed to three parts: transformation (indirect method and overview), assembly standards and growth and culture for algae. We based our contribution on the bibliography as well as our own experience. To deepen our parts we also interviewed scientists who are working daily with phototrophic organisms as they have more knowledge than us to pass on. We truly hope it will be helpful to other teams, we certainly learned a lot from the other teams.

In the end, we really enjoyed this partnership. It really shaped our project as we had the occasion to learn from scientists during the meetups but also from the other teams. They challenged us in the way we decided to design and test our project but also on the way we led human practices. Writing the Handbook was also a great occasion for us to pass on our knowledge and gather the work we had done in preparation for the redaction of our wiki.