O’Neill Lab Members

Rachel O'Neill, Ph.D.

Professor O’Neill received her BA with Highest Honors in Zoology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1992 and her PhD in Genetics and Human Variation from La Trobe University in 1997. Currently a Professor at the University of Connecticut in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, Director of the Center for Genome Innovation within the Institute for Systems Genomics and Co-Director of the iPS Cell and Chromosome Core, Dr. O’Neill has built her career on understanding how genomes maintain stability over time. Her research group at the University of Connecticut uses molecular, cytogenetic, and computational approaches to study genomic conflict involved in retroelement transcription and centromere function and the role of novel small RNAs in chromosomal and genome stability. Her lab uses a comparative genomics approach encompassing both traditional and non-traditional model systems, including human, non-human primates, rodents, marsupials, and several marine species of relevance to environmental genomics. Over the past 20 years, her laboratory has established a suite of genome-scale techniques for their research, including in situ hybridization, cytogenetics, molecular genetics, genetic engineering, artificial chromosomes, bioinformatics, cell assays, and next-generation sequencing methods (10X genomics, Oxford Nanopore, Bionano Irys, Illumina, pyrosequencing, sequencing by ligation, Ion Torrent). Her lab is also involved several international genome sequencing efforts, including human genome resequencing, several wallaby species, the koala, the recently extinct Tasmanian Tiger and the Antarctic salp.

brown Judy Brown, Ph.D.

Dr. Judy Brown is an Assistant Professor in Residence in the Department of Allied Health Sciences at the University of Connecticut and a certified clinical specialist in human cytogenetics and molecular biology. She is co-director of the University of CT Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell and Chromosome Core. Her research is the examination of chromosome interactions at evolutionarily conserved, cancer-prone breakpoints. Dr. Brown also collaborates with Dr. Rachel O'Neill (Genetics and Genomics in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology) in the investigation of chromosome instability, retroviruses and evolution in a number of model systems including human, primate, mouse, marsupials and species hybrids.

Christine McCann, Research Assistant

Chris has a BS in Medical Biology and is an ASCP certified MT who worked in several hospital clinical labs and at Newport News Shipbuilding. She received a PSM in Applied Genomics from UConn in 2012. While in grad school she gained experience working in the Campellone lab, and completed an internship with Heather White PhD from the department of Animal Science. In the O’Neill lab, Chris performs DNA and RNA fluorescent in situ protocols and helps lab members with molecular techniques and cell culture.

Nicole Pauloski, Research Associate

Nicole received her B.S. in Biotechnology from Rutgers University and her M.S. in Cellular and Molecular Biology from UNH.  She started her career in industry, working for Pfizer, Inc, Bayer Healthcare and Unilever, before moving to UConn.  She has experience with multiple molecular and cell biology techniques and immunoassays.  In the O'Neill lab, Nicole experiments with the MinION and Promethion from Oxford Nanopore, in situ hybridization, as well as, assisting lab members with various projects.  Nicole is an adjunct faculty member of the Professional Science Masters program at UConn.

Kate Castellano

Kate earned a B.S. in Marine Science from the University of New England in 2011. She worked in the laboratory of Dr. Steven Travis, where she studied the genetic diversity of a prominent marsh plant, Spartina alterniflora. After graduation, Kate was employed as an environmental lab technician at Normandeau Associates, Inc. In 2012, Kate joined Dr. Antonio Giraldez’ laboratory at Yale University where she studied the regulation of miR-430 during zebrafish embryogenesis. In 2016, Kate entered the PhD program in Genetics and Genomics at the University of Connecticut and joined Dr. Rachel O’Neill’s lab. Her research focuses on rapid genome evolution and potential adaptation to changing environmental conditions in the Antarctic tunicate, Salpa thompsoni.

Emily Fuller

Emily Fuller earned a Bachelors of Science (B.S.) in Biology, a B.S. in Forensic Science and a Minor in Chemistry at the University of New Haven in 2014. She began her industry career in 2013 when she interned at a local biotech start-up company, AxioMx, and subsequently was hired on full-time post-graduation. In collaboration between UConn and Abcam (AxioMx was acquired in 2015), Emily is currently pursuing her PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology. In Dr. Rachel O’Neill’s lab, she is studying alternative splice variants that are up-regulated in disease/cancer and developing antibody tools against them.

Patrick Grady

Patrick earned a B.S. in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology from the University of Connecticut in 2013. He worked in Dr. Chris Simon’s lab studying the systematics of an Australian cicada species complex,Physeema quadricincta. In 2015, he completed a M.S. in Entomology from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana in Dr. Kevin Johnson’s lab with a project modeling the expansion of bark lice species across the islands of Hawaii. After graduation, Patrick spent 3 years teaching high school biology and genetics at Sacred Heart Academy in Hamden, CT, and zoology, cell biology, and oceanography at Post University in Waterbury, CT. In 2018, he joined the Ph.D. program in Genetics & Genomics at the University of Connecticut, and after a short time, joined Dr. Rachel O’Neill’s lab. His broad research interests lie in comparative genomics and proteomics with the goal of gaining a greater understanding of evolutionary processes, for which he is studying centromeric protein evolution, retroelement & satellite composition, and comparative genomics of wallaby & kangaroo species.

Gabrielle Hartley

Gabby earned a B.S. in Forensic Science, a B.S. in Biology, and a Minor in Chemistry at the University of New Haven in 2017. At UNH, her undergraduate research involved the persistence and identification of forensically relevant DNA on laundered textiles. After graduation, she entered the Molecular and Cell Biology PhD program at UConn and joined Dr. Rachel O'Neill's lab. Her research focuses on centromere function and evolution using gibbons as a model species.

Savannah Klein

Savannah earned her B.S. in Biology from McDaniel College in the Spring of 2015. During her time at McDaniel, she interned in the laboratory of Dr. Xin Chen at John Hopkins University, where she focused on the role of lipid metabolism on Drosophila germ cell differentiation from a stem cell lineage. In the fall of 2015, Savannah entered the PhD program in Genetics and Genomics within the Molecular and Cellular Biology Department at the University of Connecticut, and soon after joined Dr. Rachel O’Neill’s lab. Her research focuses on the role of transcriptionally active transposable elements in centromeric and neocentromeric establishment, maintenance, and function in humans.

Michelle Neitzey

Michelle earned a Bachelors of Science in Biology at James Madison University in 2016. Her undergraduate research involved evaluating metatranscriptomes of harmful algal bloom samples for nutrient cycling patterns. Before coming to UCONN, Michelle worked a non-profit, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, in the Education Department. Michelle joined UCONN’s Department of Molecular and Cell Biology in the fall of 2019, and Rachel O’Neill’s lab soon after. She is currently exploring different project areas.

Paul Isaac, UCONN Holster scholar
Madelyn Severson, SURF grant recipient
Hannah Smith, SURF grant recipient

Former lab members

Sarah Trusiak, Ph.D., Thermo Fisher

Nicholas Mosca, Mass General

Brianna Flynn, IsoPlexis

Brendan Smalec, Harvard University

Michael Perrachio, The Jackson Lab for Genomic Medicine

Matthew Capozziello, Sema4

Craig Obergfell, Product Application Specialist at Thermo Fisher Scientific

Chu Zhang, Ph.D. Frontage Laboratories

Mark Longo, Ph.D., UCONN

Laura Hall, Ph.D.

Elisabeth Mlynarski, Ph.D., UPenn

Lorin Weaver

Dharma Desai

Leah Newman

Susan Janton

Melissa Harris, Boehringer Ingelheim

Chia Wei Lim

Dawn Carone, Ph.D., UMass Medical School

Kira V. Bulazel, Ph.D. Duke University

Gianni C. Ferreri, Ph.D. , Ventana Medical Systems

Judy Brown, Ph.D., UCONN

Meg Marzelli, Astra Zeneca

Diana Golden, UCHC

Jenn Mack

Trent Tennyson

Kristen Ford, Pfizer

Cushla Metcalfe, Ph.D.

Concetta Marfella

Zanna Aristarhova

Karina Winiarskyj

Stan Sulewski III

Devika Dhandapani

Former Undergrads

Xuezhen Chen, NYU graduate school

Chenghong Deng, University of Rochester graduate school

Melinda Wei, SURF grant recipient, Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences

Tiffany Tran, CT Department of Administrative Services

Alexander Tedeschi, SURF grant recipient

Christine Nykyforchun

Elyse Pizzo

Justin Beauchamp

Yinka Edwards

Mike Wheelock

Steven Slota

Sara Bennett

Dawn Lincinsky

Brad Whaley

Shannon Callanan

Jeffery Lahrmann

Kristin Hervey

Aaron Stepanek

Melissa Harris

Anagha Sabnis

Martina Strbunclj

Sharon Pillsbury

Eileen Kelly

Vanessa Piccullo

Caitlin Finn

Kathleen Stewart

Cecilia Esteves

Mina Farahani

Leroy Robinson

Parker Sulkowski

Kristen Hughes

Laura Bozzi