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Team UConn

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Who we are


  • Rachel O'Neil: Faculty Advisor

Dr. O'Neill's research in genomics involves several large-scale sequencing projects to map and compare large genomes – such as humans, the tammar wallaby and deer mice – and to learn more about how they function. She is particularly interested in the centromere – the part of the chromosome that is essential for cell division. The centromere has not been sequenced yet, even for humans. She calls it "uncharted territory" that could yield answers about human health and disease.

She is also the best faculty advisor we could have asked for.

  • Laura Hall: Grad Advisor

Laura is a PhD student in genetics and genomics and is getting ready to graduate. She can't wait to find a job and move to San Diego.

  • Sarah Mitchell: Grad Advisor
  • Brianna Flynn: Grad Advisor


  • Nicholas Jannetty: 'Fearless Leader' (COO)

Nick J. is a Senior studying Biomedical Engineering. He was the first student at UConn to take interest in iGEM and his hours of dedication and effort are the foundation that formed the team.

  • Alex Byer-Alcorace: 'Consigliere' (VP)

Alex is studying Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Connecticut with a focus in Microbiology.

  • Nicholas Calistri: 'Number Cruncher' (CFO)

Nick C. is a seventh semester Biomedical Engineering student at UConn. He enjoys skiing, hiking, rock climbing, and camping. This affinity for fresh air may be an attempt to compensate for spending the entire academic year indoors hunched over his laptop.

  • John Boak: 'Faithful Scribe' (SEC)

John is a Senior, majoring in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Uconn. Hobbies include Singing, reading, hiking, playing video games and writing. Needless to say, he is a walking contradiction.

  • Katie Ritz:

Katie is Junior studying Molecular and Cell Biology at UConn.

  • Parker Sulkowski: 'Hardy Boy'

Parker picks things up and puts them down.

  • Kristen Hughes: 'Kiki'

Kristen Hughes is a 4th year MCB major with an interest in genetics. She has been doing research in a lab for 1.5 years and is one of the original UConn iGEM members.

  • Heather Jones:

Heather is a fifth semester student studying at the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy and an active member of the UConn Women's Club Soccer Team.


  • Special Thanks

Dr. Linda Strausbaugh: Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology; Head of the Center for Applied Genetics and Technology

Dr. Strausbaugh's support has meant the world to us. She allowed us to use the CAGT facilities and gave us the money to register for iGEM. Without her belief in us we never would have made it to where we are today.

  • Dr. Ben Carone: University of Massachusetts - Amherst

For teaching us everything we know about yeast transformation. And for providing us with the yeast and several transformation materials

  • Dr. Judy Brown: Assistant Professor in Residence Co-Director, UConn Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell and Chromosome Core University of Connecticut

For helping us, especially when we were completely lost.

What we did

We formed a team. A bunch of misfits from different majors across the university decided to come together and form UConn’s first iGEM team. We had no idea what we were doing most of the way but somehow we put it all together and UConn iGEM was born. We had some hiccups and roadblocks and stumps and detours and bamboozles and curve balls but we made it work and came out better on the other side.

For now our main goal for this year is to make sure that the next generation of iGEMers will be more prepared for the tasks and demands of the competition. (And hopefully avoid some of the pitfalls that we had this year) By next year you can expect UConn iGEM to be a force to be reckoned with at the Jamboree.