Students behind new eco-friendly sunscreen win silver medal in international competition

The International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition (IGEM) proved extremely successful for students of science and technology from the University of Tartu, who brought home a silver medal. The students and their supervisor successfully solved one problem of marine pollution.

Every year 14,000 tons of sunscreen end up in seas and oceans, with many people applying the product before going swimming. Most commercially produced sunscreens contain chemical compounds with broad-spectrum UV radiation that are extremely poisonous for the natural environment. Sunscreens drastically increase the levels of poisonous substances in water, causing corals to develop pathologies.

In order to avoid water pollution, the students and their supervisor developed a natural UV protectant that only uses mycosporine-like amino acids, which protect the skin from photoaging and have an anti-inflammatory effect and antioxidant activity. The product can even be considered anticarcinogenic.

Our team was awarded a silver medal for their eco-friendly sunscreen in the final round of the competition in Boston.

The project had been launched a year earlier. The finalists were chosen based on the uniqueness of their ideas, Team Wiki (a website that allows the team to share info and ideas, organise group work and collaborate on projects) poster sessions and the total score for their presentation.

The team competing in Boston comprised second-year science and technology students Irina Borovko, Nargiz Kazimova, Frida Matiyevskaya, Turan Badalli and Tinatin Tkesheliadze and third-year students Alissa Agerova and Aleksandra Panfilova. Second-year science and technology students Veronika Kirillova, Artur Astapenka, Klāvs Jermakovs, Nadezhda Chulkova, Anastasia Kolosova, Vladislav Tuzov and Huynh Ngoc Chau Phan were also part of the team. Third-year students Dainis Ivanovs, Luka Bulatovic and Daniel Schmidt assisted the team in the laboratory.

The team was supervised by Ilona Faustova, who has been named the programme director of the year.

More information: Ilona Faustova, Research Fellow in Molecular Biology,