Meet the Team!

Benthic Labs is comprised of 11 interdisciplinary students from the College of Science Engineering and Food Science (SEFS) in University College Cork. We specialize in the areas of Genetics, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biomedical science, Mathematics, Physics and Engineering.

To find out more about us, check out our biographies below!

Team photo of Benthic Labs


Back (L to R): Leanne O’Sullivan, Gavin King, Cian Scannell, Russell Banta, Selma Bouanane, Shama Chilakwad, Patrick Xie

Front (L to R): Carolina Cordero, Cian O’ Donnell, Timothy O’Flynn, Daniel Collins, Ian Valentine McDermott


RUSSELL BANTA, C.E.O of Benthic Labs

He’s a third year Chemistry student who lives in Cork. He just submitted an article for publishing in Chemistry Review, awarded college scholar. He enjoys free running.


GAVIN KING, Shareholder in Benthic Labs

He’s a third year Biochemistry student from Co. Tipperary. He graduated from C.B.S Secondary School in Carrick on Suir in 2011.  While there, he was the first person in Ireland to complete the “Step into Marketing” online course. In college, he has also been awarded the title of college scholar. His interest in Synthetic Biology sparked from a science article about targeting synthetic protein nanocages to liver cells specifically using Hepatitis B surface protein. Very interesting indeed! He speaks one language and even at that it is hard for anyone not from Tipperary to understand him!


DANIEL COLLINS, Shareholder in Benthic Labs

He’s a third year Genetics student from Co. Kerry. He graduated from St. Michael’s College in Listowel in 2011 and while there, won an All Ireland Senior Colleges Football medal in 2011. He was also awarded student of the year. His attention was first drawn to synthetic biology through Craig Venter’s paper where a team of scientists replaced the genome of one microbe with another. It is undoubtedly an exciting and progressive field in genetic engineering. He enjoys creative writing and playing half a dozen sports!


IAN VALENTINE MCDERMOTT, Shareholder in Benthic Labs

He’s a third year Biochemistry student in University College Cork. He first became interested in synthetic biology as a tool for tackling modern dilemmas in energy, medicine and materials science. An avid sailor and lover of the ocean, this project combines his two main interests.  He was also a judge at the Cambridge Intervarsity Debating Competition in 2012 and debates as member of the Philosophical Society.  So he likes to talk.


TIMOTHY O’FLYNN, Shareholder in Benthic Labs

He’s a third year Genetics student from Cork.  He worked on the Eldermet project in 2013 studying gut microbiota. He was sequencing and analysing data on more than 200 patients. A passionate interest in films and TV. He enjoys volunteering in many societies in UCC. He manages to control his anger with highly caffeinated drinks.


SHAMA CHILAKWAD, Secretary in Benthic Labs

She’s a third year Genetics student from Mysore, India who has been living in Ireland for the last 6 years. She graduated from Presentation Secondary School in Miltown, Co.Kerry. Her interest in Synthetic Biology began when she read an email she received about the iGEM competition. The fact that it is a relatively new field makes the project very exciting. She enjoys art; her painting got selected among the top 200 of 40,000 entries in the Texaco Art competition. She also speaks 3 languages.


CIAN O’DONNELL, Shareholder in Benthic Labs

He’s a first year Biological and Chemical Sciences student. He lives here in Cork. He enjoys playing piano and brews his own beer.  He has an interest in synthetic biology as it is a new and unexplored field of science, and is excited about the future applications of synthetic biology in industry.


PATRICK XIE, Shareholder in Benthic Labs

He’s a final year Energy Engineering student. Three year college scholar with experience in programming, electronics, circuit design, heat transfer, control theory and building services engineering. Final year project was a wireless sensor data acquisition network for energy and environmental applications. He worked as an intern microfluidics design engineering in EMBL and where he was first introduced to the engineering applications and challenges in the micro and molecular biology. Side interests include home electronic projects.


LEANNE O’SULLIVAN, Shareholder in Benthic Labs

She is a second year Biomedical Science student. She is from Castletownbere, Co. Cork but now lives in Cork. She has had an interest in synthetic biology since secondary school, after taking part in science debates on genetic engineering. She achieved Student of the Year award from her secondary school on graduating. She is also Development Officer in the MSF (Doctors without borders) society in UCC has an interest in aid work. She is looking forward to developing her scientific knowledge through the project.


CIAN SCANNELL, Shareholder in Benthic Labs

He is Mathematical Sciences student in University College Cork, currently studying equal amounts of Maths and Applied Maths. He was awarded the title of College Scholar in examinations to date. He has become very interested in the areas of mathematical modelling, chaos and bifurcation theory, specifically in implementing these methods on computers. He has also been offered a place to study at the University of California, Santa Barbara next year. He was Finance Officer of the UCC Mathematical Society and was part of the UCC cricket team that won the Irish Inter-Varsities.


SELMA BOUANANE, Shareholder in Benthic Labs

She is a second year Physics and Astrophysics student from France. She represented Ireland in the 2012 session of United Space School at JSC, Houston and was awarded the title of college scholar. She rows competitively and speaks three languages.



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