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Biology Outreach Programs


The U.S. Air Force Academy hosts an international Genetic Engineering Machine (iGEM) Team. This team identifies a real-world problem and then utilizes biology, engineering, and computational models to design and study a solution using bioengineering and synthetic biology.

The team competes each fall in the international iGEM Jamboree for a chance to win awards and medals.

In Fall of 2023, our team competed in Paris, France and won a gold medal in the iGEM Grand Jamboree, a best overall safety nomination, and 1st place in the inaugural hackathon competition.

Who is on the iGEM team
The team is composed of about 15 cadets that are sophomores, juniors, and seniors from any major. We have had iGEM cadets from biology, chemistry, physics, civil engineering, behavioral science, astronautical engineering, and computer science.

When does the iGEM team “practice”?
By being on the iGEM team, you are enrolled in Bio 365 in the spring semester and Bio 366 in the following fall semester. This is a scheduled class that provides in-class instruction on protocols, techniques, and strategies to be successful as an iGEM team. Most of the research and work is done after school, evenings, and weekends.

How do I join the iGEM team?
The iGEM team is an annual team that runs from January through December every year. In the fall, there will be a call for applications and around Nov/Dec, the team will select new members to join the team for the upcoming year.

More information:
Talk to the faculty advisors: Dr. Jordan Steel, Capt Victoria Morrison, or Ms. Melanie Grogger.

For more information on our iGEM team, please check out the wiki page.

As part of the 2022 competition, the team made a musical parody to highlight their research project. Check out the video.

U.S. Air Force Academy international Genetic Engineering Machine (iGEM) Team



USAFA Biotechnology Immersion Program (BiP)


What is the Biotechnology Immersion Program?
In 2020, USAFA faculty and scientists from the Air Force Research Labs were awarded a $2M grant from the National Defense Education Program (NDEP) called Biotechnology Outreach Bolstered through Education in STEM and Development (BiOBESTD). This STEM education and outreach program specifically focuses on Biotechnology and providing meaningful learning experiences and exposure to new techniques and groundbreaking technologies for the public and DoD workforce. The program includes several institutions and events from across the US, but the U.S. Air Force Academy is proud to host the Biotechnology Immersion Program (BiP) every summer as a professional development and STEM outreach initiative for high school teachers and students.

The Biotechnology Immersion Program runs for several weeks in the summer and provides opportunities for educators and students to come to the Academy and be immersed in Biotechnology labs, activities, research, and discussions. Participants are provided materials to help support the implementation of Biotechnology back in their home classrooms. By training teachers and providing them with all the resources, the Biotechnology Immersion Program hopes that the impact of this program will extend throughout the year and revitalize Biotech education in local schools.

Biotechnology is a priority for the DoD modernization and in the fall of 2022, President Biden issued an executive order for advancing biotechnology. The Biotechnology Immersion Program at the Academy is on the front lines of advancing Biotech within the DoD and public education system.

How do I participate?
In the spring, the BiP Faculty will send out information and links for the application. Teachers and students can apply for the program through the online application. Participants will be notified in early May of their selection into the program.

Contact information
For questions, please reach out to the faculty advisors: Dr. Jordan Steel or Dr. Katherine Bates

More information:
Check out this video of the Biotechnology Immersion Program.

Summer Biotech Immersion Program. Over the course of 5 weeks, K-12 educators and students will enroll in different sessions tailored specifically to the level of the participants to educate, train, and inspire the next generation of scientists.

BiP Outreach Program