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MERIT BioCrew, Prestigious Scholarship, and Brains!

MERIT BioCrew Wins Bronze

The MERIT Synthetic Biology team, also known as the "BioCrew," won bronze at the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGem) competition in Boston. On an all-expenses-paid trip, the Scholars presented their innovative proposal to use bacteria to eliminate pollution in the Inner Harbor. With support from the Baltimore Under Ground Science Space (BUGSS), the team conducted research to genetically engineer bacteria to break down plastic bottles. The team was comprised of MERIT Scholars Mercedes Thompson, Eseni Tafah, Julius Gingles, Oumaima Driwech, and Rachel Avidor. Drawing inspiration from recent scientific breakthroughs, the team set out to create a project that would help the environment while making the Inner Harbor cleaner and more accessible. Read more about their work on and the Baltimore Sun, where they were featured as the front-page story! Or watch this creative video by Scholar Rachel Avidor.

Senior Awarded Prestigious Scholarship

Senior Scholar Julius Gingles became the first MERIT Scholar to be awarded the prestigious QuestBridge National Match Scholarship. As a result, Julius will be attending Brown University next year on a full-ride scholarship.


Junior Scholars had the exciting opportunity to examine human brains during an anatomy lab with the neurosurgery student interest group at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. MERIT would like to give special thanks to the Hopkins med students who graciously donated their time to lead this enthralling hands-on activity.

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