Emily Wang

2014 International BioGENEius Challenge, First Place Winner

Emily Wang

Emily Wang, a senior from Henry M. Gunn High School in Palo Alto, CA has won the 2014 International BioGENEius Challenge, a competition for high school students who demonstrate an exemplary understanding of biotechnology through science research projects. Fifteen students from the U.S. and Canada competed in this year’s Challenge. Emily received an award of $7,500.

Winners were announced Tuesday, June 24, 2014 at the keynote luncheon at the 2014 BIO International Convention, the largest global event for the biotechnology industry.

Wang’s project titled, “Illuminating Disease Pathways: Developing Bright Fluorescent Proteins to Improve FRET Biosensing” won her the challenge.

Students were evaluated on the quality of their research and display, their responses to questions demonstrating their scientific knowledge, and the potential commercial applications of their research.

Wang also won honorable mention at the 2013 International BioGENEius Challenge in Chicago, IL; for more information click here.  Please see below for more information regarding Wang’s project.


The discovery and development of fluorescent proteins, recognized by the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, enabled a revolution in biological microscopy and sensing. Biosensors employing fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) between fluorescent proteins are powerful tools to non-invasively report biochemical events within living cells. The development of new FRET sensors remains difficult, however, often due to low FRET dynamic range. Through random and site-directed mutagenesis, I designed and constructed libraries of green and red fluorescent protein mutants, which were screened for photostability, quantum yield, and performance in a FRET-based calcium sensor. I have engineered a new green fluorescent protein Clover3, which is the brightest monomeric fluorescent protein to date. Clover3 confers increased FRET dynamic range onto biosensors and shows improved photostability and quantum yield. Moreover, I developed a new red fluorescent protein mRuby3, which is the brightest red fluorescent protein to date. With superior optical characteristics, Clover3 and mRuby3 are expected to benefit diverse biomedical applications, including the imaging of neural structures, visualization of cancer metastases, and monitoring of signaling pathways to elucidate disease mechanisms.