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 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.

Julianna Crivello

Julianna received a Bachelors of Science in Diagnostic Genetics Sciences with a concentration in Cytogenetics and a minor in Molecular and Cellular Biology in December of 2011.  She is currently an MCB Masters student working on the EBV project in the O’Neill Lab.

Kate Divito

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.

Tom Heider


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.

Sarah Trusiak

Sarah graduated with a BS in biomolecular sciences and chemistry in 2006 from Central Connecticut State University. She is a PhD student and her projects involve testing the centromere drive hypothesis in a marsupial model system.

Madelyn Severson
Tiffany Tran
Melinda Wei


Former lab members

Alexander Tedeschi
Nicholas Mosca
Brianna Flynn
Brendan Smalec, Harvard University
Michael Perrachio, The Jackson Lab for Genomic Medicine
Matthew Capozziello
Craig Obergfell, Product Application Specialist at Thermo Fisher Scientific
Chu Zhang, Ph.D. Research Associate
Mark Longo, Ph.D., UCONN
Laura Hall, Ph.D.
Elisabeth Mlynarski, Ph.D., UPenn
Lorin Weaver
Dharma Desai
Leah Newman
Susan Janton
Melissa Harris, Boeringher Ingelheim
Chia Wei Lim
Dawn Carone, Ph.D., UMass Med School
Kira V. Bulazel, Ph.D. Duke University
Gianni C. Ferreri, Ph.D. 454 Life Sciences
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
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