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UC Davis student inventors take grand prize in international competition with olive oil sensor

By Pat Bailey on November 3, 2014 in

A student team composed of some of the best and brightest young minds at the University of California, Davis, today took the grand prize in the finals of the global iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machines) competition in Boston. The team also won the Best Policy and Practices Advanced Presentation Award.

The UC Davis students, all undergraduates, placed tops in what is known as the "overgraduate division." A team from the University of Heidelberg was awarded the grand prize in the "undergraduate division."

The competition, which this year featured 245 teams from Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America, annually challenges student teams to design and build biological systems or machines and present their inventions in the international competition.

The UC Davis team spent several months building a high-tech, palm-sized biosensor to quickly evaluate the chemical profile of olive oil. Their creation provides a prototype for quickly and accurately detecting low-grade or adulterated olive oil.

The UC Davis team is composed of undergraduate students Lucas Murray, Brian Tamsut, James Lucas, Sarah Ritz, Aaron Cohen and Simon Staley, with student Yeonju Song serving as an alternate or “shadow” team member. A team of faculty advisers guided the students. For more on the innovative olive oil biosensor and the iGEM competition visit the UC Davis news website at:

Media contact(s)

Pat Bailey, Research news (emphasis: agricultural and nutritional sciences, and veterinary medicine), 530-219-9640,

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