Kimberly Toth, MS (Class of 2022) graduated from UConn in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Allied Health Sciences. During this time, she completed an internship at UConn Health Center under Dr. Jessica Costa in Dr. Andrew Arnold’s lab, where they used FISH to examine the copy number rearrangements of Cyclin D1 in mouse parathyroid adenomas. She also took a lot of coursework focusing on cytogenetic lab techniques. Most recently, she has completed the graduate certificate in Clinical Genetics and Genomics from UConn which served as her motivation to pursue a master’s degree in Health Care Genetics. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, reading, and has a small side business of walking dogs through the Rover app. Professionally she is considering a career in academia or the possibility of pursuing a medical degree with a focus in reproductive medicine.
Gillian McNeil, MS (Class of 2022) graduated from UConn in 2020 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular and Cell Biology with a minor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. As an undergraduate, she worked as a student research assistant for Dr. Daniel Bolnick in the EEB Department. Her independent study project investigated whether signatures of genetic divergence develop in parapatric populations of stickleback over short time scales as a result of a physical barrier to gene flow in nature. Upon graduating, Gillian continued to pursue her interest in research by joining Dr. Jianjun Sun as a laboratory technician. During her time in the Sun lab, she tested the contraceptive efficacy of non-hormonal drug compounds in vitro using the Drosophila melanogaster model. In 2021, Gillian completed UConn’s graduate certificate program in Clinical Genetics and Genomics prior to being accepted into the Health Care Genetics program. Gillian is a member of the New England Regional Genetics Group (NERGG) Board of Directors and was appointed as Secretary to the Executive Committee. During her two-year term, she will promote NERGG’s mission to increase awareness and access to genetic services for patients and families impacted by genetic conditions. Gillian joined the Institute for Systems Genomics as an Administrative Specialist and promotes genetics education and outreach on UConn campuses and beyond as a Genome Ambassador.
Gabriel Salles, MS (Class of 2022) returned to UConn after earning his bachelor's degree in Molecular and Cell Biology in 2018 and working as a laboratory technician for Advanced Grow Labs in W. Haven, CT. Gabe's job at AGL provided him with extensive experience with Waters, IES and APEKs extraction systems, filtration systems and other methods for the high yield and quality of the pharmaceutical product. As a Brazilian native, Gabe's barbeque cooking is purportedly quite good. Gabe is also an avid hiker and mountain climber, now having completed about 9% of the Appalachian trail, it is a goal to complete the entire trail before age 30. Gabe was reminded of his interest in the world of genetics after a 23&Me kit was received at his home. He decided now was the time to pursue his scientific interests and gain the communication and leadership experience for advancement in his career. Toward that goal, Gabe completed the summer 2020 Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Tomorrow’s Leaders College Program. Gabe was hired as a student technologist in late August 2020 onto the UConn COVID19 screening ramp-up team, a co-sponsored effort by the Institute for Systems Genomics and the Microbial Analysis Resources and Services (MARS) facility. He can fill 1000 tubes with sterile water in 1.5 hours, extract RNA from wastewater, and... no, he cannot leap buildings in a single bound, but he is learning several new lab techniques under the mentorship of Drs. Kendra Maas and Rachel O'Neill.
Christianne Senechal, MS (Class of 2022) graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology in 2018. She developed an interest in the medical sciences during her earlier studies and hopes to pursue a career as a physician. Toward this goal, Christianne has been a patient volunteer at Yale New Haven Hospital and completed extensive physician shadowing. Chrissy was nominated to be a Merit Scholar in the Atlantis Fellowship program which allowed her to become immersed in global medicine during the summer of 2019 and to earn >60 AAMC complaint physician shadowing hours at public and private hospitals in beautiful Larissa, Greece. Chrissy started her job as a paraprofessional given her interest in pediatric medicine and has been developing her skills working with children who have special needs ranging from physical and/or cognitive disabilities to behavioral disorders. She engages with the children's psychologists and physical, occupational, and speech therapists regularly, further solidifying her passion for a career working with this vulnerable population. Christianne decided to apply to the Health Care Genetics program at UConn before applying to medical school because through undergraduate research under the mentorship of Dr. Amy Groth, Chrissy had gained an appreciation for the fundamental role that genetics plays in health, disease, and medicine. Chrissy classified the function of cancer-linked genes using RNAi technology and human orthologs in the genetic model organism Caenorhabditis elegans.
Melissa Soucy, MS, MB(ASCP) (Class of 2022), a Diagnostic Genetic Sciences program graduate of UConn, is ASCP certified in Diagnostic Molecular Sciences and has been working at the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Farmington, CT as Clinical Genomics Technologist II performing molecular and NGS testing using the Actionseq and Fusionseq assays. Before starting at Jackson Labs, Melissa performed BCR/ABL testing using the Asuragen qRT-BCR/ABL assay and fragment analysis at BioReference Labs. Melissa Soucy joined the Health Care Genetics program on a part-time basis to earn her master's degree, hone her professional development skills, and keep on point with the rapidly changing and exciting fields of genetics and diagnostics.
Michaela Green, MS (Class of 2021) graduated in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science from UConn in Biological Sciences, After graduating, she immediately started working for PIs Dr. Seth Kailchman and Lisa Eaton on the SHARE Project, research funded by the NIH with a focus on HIV prevention, services, and stigma. Michaela was the research health counselor for the project and provides health counseling interventions with motivational interviewing techniques for targeted health goals. Michaela completed UConn's 12-credit online Clinical Genetics and Genomics Graduate Certificate Program wherein she gained strong knowledge about the mechanisms by which genetic and genomic variations influence health and contribute to human disease, mechanisms underlying typical and atypical development in embryology and teratology, practiced scientific communication and counseling skills, and learned to select and interpret common genetic tests. In summer 2021 Michaela became involved in the Tomorrow’s Leaders Program with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, serving as the co-chair for the planning team, and putting together the Summer College Program for over 180 college students from across the country. Through this opportunity she gained valuable leadership experience, helping to coordinate and execute a four-week virtual event, consisting of a network of professionals in fields related to Cystic Fibrosis research, advocacy, and outreach. When Michaela is not working full-time or studying, she enjoys spending time outdoors hiking and exploring, and giving back through volunteering at local hospitals.
Collin Krzyzaniak, MS (Class of 2021) completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences with a minor in Spanish in December 2019 from UConn. Collin is a Board of Directors for a non-profit organization, United Brain Association (UBA), whose mission is to educate and create research-backed awareness for a wide range of neurological/psychological disorders. At the UBA, Collin has led the weekly podcast “Brain Food”, interviewed academic research professors, created “brain stories” for various individuals, and coordinated with the board about the future directions of the organization. Collin also joined The Beaudoin Lab at UConn Health Center’s Genetic and Genomics department in the Spring of 2020 as a laboratory technician and research assistant. He is responsible for overseeing and maintaining the high-capacity fish facility (zebrafish model) and utilizes his past laboratory experiences by optimizing the lab’s CRISPR cas9 and cas13d systems for future experiments. UConn Today featured Collin's work with Zebrafish embryos in Dr. Beaudoin’s lab at 400 Farmington! Collin is on a path toward genetics and genomics doctoral program applications to address questions faced by those with genetic disorders.
Eric Carrano, MS (Class of 2021) was recruited to join the Health Care Genetics Program from the Yale University School Medicine Cytogenetics Laboratory. Eric had graduated with a bachelor's of science in cytogenetics from UConn and had been working in the clinical testing lab for about 3-years before starting his graduate work. Eric has a research background in Rachel O'Neill's laboratory, worked as a student technologist in the Chromosome Core, a division of the Center for Genome Innovation, and is a published author thanks to a collaboration with Dr. Kenneth Campellone in MCB. Eric was the fall 2019 instructor of record for DGS 3223: Laboratory in Cytogenetics wherein he had to wrangle 17 students to learn suspension culture, slide dropping, G-banding, microscopy, and karyotyping. He did an amazing job working with the students and two instructional assistants with rave teaching evaluations. For spring 2019, he is leading the teaching for DGS 4246: Contemporary Issues in Human Genetics and working hard with Annika Grewal to make sure they stay on task to move learning to an online format given our recent quarantine from campus. Eric graciously helps out with all student recruitment efforts and has volunteered to assist with CRISPR'd cell line chromosome evaluations throughout the year. Eric accepted a position with the COVID19 testing team at the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in the summer of 2020 and is busy finishing up classes and projects for an anticipated December 2020 program end date.
Rachael Massey, MS (Class of 2021) applied to the Health Care Genetics program after learning about us from colleagues at Precipio, Inc, a clinical oncology lab located in Yale’s Science Park. Rachael started work as a cytogenetic technologist performing cell culture and fluorescence in situ hybridization assays among other duties at Precipio Inc after graduating in 2017 with a bachelor's of science in Biology from Albertus Magnus College, New Haven, CT. Rachael was a recipient of an Intern of the Year award for her college research testing ARV-471, an Estrogen Receptor-Positive Proteolysis Targeting Chimera (PROTAC) at Arvinas, Inc. On the first day of classes on the Storrs campus, Rachael, with a map in hand, found her way from the parking garage to Oak Hall to start her role as an instructional assistant for DGS 4224- Cancer Cytogenetics. Rachael introduced new FISH panel assignments, shared expertise about leukemic sample set-up and mitogen selection, and helped keep our class running smoothly during the transition to online learning for mandatory quarantine. Rachael joined the research laboratory of Dr. Alexander Jackson in the summer of 2020 and is also now a graduate teaching assistant with the health care genetics program.
Annika Grewal, MS (Class of 2021) is the program's first Canadian student. A native of Oakville, Ontario, Annika has done swimmingly well.. a pun on the fact that Annika was a nationally ranked Canadian swimmer and arrived at UConn with a full scholarship where she was a medalist swimmer all during her individualized bachelor's degree studies in Genomics, Heredity, and Health. Annika has been actively engaged in health care wherein she volunteered at Sick Children's Hospital in Toronto with the Healthy Babies/Healthy Children program and alongside hematology/oncology specialists, provided emotional support to children and families before, during, and after cancer testing. Annika has been working as a study hall monitor on campus and this spring has collaborated with co-HCG student Eric Carrano to teach Contemporary Issues in Human Genetics seminar to 17 undergraduate students. Back in Canada, Annika is committed to helping deliver course content and quality instruction to our students in a virtual online learning environment. Annika completed a cancer panel design research project with Dr. Wahab Khan, at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center during the summer of 2020 and her MCAT exam in late August. Annika's research focus has shifted for fall 2020 with onboarding to the research team of Dr. Emily Wakefield, a pediatric psychologist & clinical investigator with the Pain and Palliative Medicine Clinic at Connecticut Children's Medical Center.
Twisha Shah, MS (Class of 2021) graduated magna cum laude from UConn with a Bachelor's degree in Molecular Cell Biology. Twisha's Honors Scholar thesis was conducted under the advisory of Dr. Mary Bruno and was a literature review thesis titled "An Investigation into the Complex Role of Senescence in Cancer Cells". Her undergraduate experiences also included time as a teaching assistant for a physiology and neurobiology lab class and employment as a student technology specialist in UConn's Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. Originally from India, Twisha moved to the United States when she was 9 years old and has since lived in South Carolina, Texas, and Connecticut. Twisha has volunteered with Migrant Farm Clinics and St. Francis Hospital extensively during the summers of her undergraduate years at UConn and is now volunteering with Crisis Text Line as a counselor. She is now at West Virginia School of Medicine, completing her MD. Twisha hopes to incorporate genetics into her plans, whether it be through research or going into residency after medical school.
Trevor Hunter, MS (Class of 2021) completed a degree in biology with a concentration in ecology and evolution in May 2019 at Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY. A researcher accustomed to working alone in the biology lab, Trevor acclimated well to the health care team environment with requisite group projects, debates, and presentations. He completed two professional development modules in learning systems and teaching and mentoring. Trevor provided excellent assistance and instruction for the diagnostic genetic sciences class of 17 students in "molecular lab techniques" and last summer, worked as a Temporary Virology Technician at Sema4 contributing to the demand for qualified persons on the COVID-19 testing line. He completed a research rotation in the laboratory of Dr. Michael O'Neill at the Institute for Systems Genomics in September 2020. Trevor is continuing his education in UConn's Molecular and Cell Biology Ph.D. program, to begin in Fall 2021.
Alec Moschitto, MS (Class of 2021) was an aspiring physician when he joined the Health Care Genetics Program and is continuing on that career path now. He was first introduced to the importance and integration of genetics in medicine when he was enrolled in AH 4225: Genetic Testing and Medicine as part of his bachelor of science in Allied Health Sciences at UConn. Alec brought with him over 2-years of experience as an EMT in a bustling CT city, volunteered with Hartford Hospital's mobility clinic, and gained a bit of research knowledge in the genomics lab of Dr. Erin Young. He put his cell culture classwork to practice growing iPSCs and added in some Next Generation Sequencing technology for his investigation of the transcriptome of Prader-Willi model neurons. Alec has been employed as a Clinical Laboratory Technologist at SEMA4 since May 2021. He enjoys the adventure at SEMA4 and the knowledge that his work helps thousands of patients understand their genome, their risk for hereditary cancers, and much more.
Amy Balk, MS (Class of 2020) joined the Health Care Genetics program as a full-time student while navigating life as a military spouse and mother. Amy was a dedicated student who had recently completed a UConn biological sciences degree, during which time she participated in research in the plant genetics lab of Dr. Berkwotiz and studied gene regulation during development and reproduction under the mentorship of Dr. Hans Laufer. Amy's work and research interests are in the social determinants and equitable health. She was a Research Assistant for a Jan-Jun internship with the Weitzman Institute at the Community Health Center of Middletown CT, Amy designed a research project and question, prepared a proposal, IRB protocol, and informed consent with considerations for participant recruitment and supplementary educational materials under the mentorship of Yashoda Sharma, Ph.D. a Senior Research Scientist at the Weitzman Institute. Amy's programmatic professional intern experiences also included a community outreach coordinator position at the CT Chapter Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Amy's education, training, innovative projects, and experiences are reflective of her desire to connect to patient communities to support and advocate for newer, less expensive, and tailored health care leading to better outcomes. She is open to employment and receives an A- YES! recommendation from her faculty.
Bailey Randolph, MS, MB(ASCP) (Class of 2020), from Seton Hall University with a bachelor's of science degree in biochemistry, brought to our graduate program prior internship experience with Roche Sequencing Solutions in both chemistry and infectious disease assay development. Bailey was immediately hired by Dr. Kendra Maas in our Microbial Analysis, Resources, and Services center within the Institute for Systems Genomics on the Storrs campus where she continued to work for one year while completing classes. Bailey graciously volunteered for career fairs and took prospective students on tours around campus, sharing her dynamic personality and excitement for the field of genetics. Bailey accepted an internship career position at SEMA4 labs in Branford, CT starting in March 2019, finished her capstone project for the ASCP Molecular Certification Examination, and continues to work as a full-time technologist with the ever-growing SEMA4 company.
Soochi Vaderha, MS (Class of 2020) was not a stranger to UConn when she joined the Health Care Genetics program. She had earned her bachelor's degree in biology before venturing out for brief employment as a microbiology tech and then to Reproductive Medicine Associates of CT where she advanced over the years in her role as the Integrated Fertility and Wellness Coordinator. During her time in the HCG program, Soochi gained unique experience and provided invaluable service as an instructional assistant for two undergraduate classes; Counseling and Education for Health Professionals and Molecular Diagnostic Techniques. Soochi spent the 2019 summer as a research fellow at the University of CT Health Center with the start-up company called YouCOMM LLC wherein she gained valuable education about the intersection of science, healthcare, and business. Under the mentorship of Dr. Kristen Cooksey Stowers, Soochi completed a project and internship in health care policy. Soochi's final work products included RedCap video training modules for future Health Care Genetics students. Hitting the job market at the start of the pandemic has been frustrating, but we have no doubt, that someone smart will recognize the need for someone like Soochi who has skills and training in genetics, health policy, ethics, counseling, and a natural ability to be a health advocate and educator.
Kimberly Winnick, MS (Class of 2019) is an avid hiker, a 2017 UConn Animal Science graduate, and a former veterinary technologist. Kim's programmatic experiential learning included a rotation in the Center for Genome Innovation with Dr. Bo Reese and Lisa Labelle, MS, MB (ASCP), and an internship with the SEMA4 group in Branford, CT. Kim made such a great impression during her first rotations, both labs hired her back for the last semester of the program! Kim's professional development project stemmed from an interest she gained while interning in the SEMA4 lab. Kim designed an online HuskyCT blackboard learning course about test validation in the clinical lab including her PowerPoint presentations, links, and assessments for webinars, journal readings, and discussion postings. Kim's course was put to use in the spring semester for our undergraduate genetics interns on quarantine. The students are exploring test/assay validation in the clinical laboratory, and given the rapid advancements in genome sequencing technologies each year, the focus of Kim's class is on next-generation sequencing. Kim's course learning modules cover the basics of test validation, regulation, test performance parameters, clinical validity, and utility, as well as costs associated with genetic testing and limitations of testing validations. Kim graduated in December 2019 and headed to the UConn of the North, to accept employment as a Clinical Laboratory Scientist at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center's Clinical Genomics and Advanced Technologies Laboratory with Dr. Greg Tsongalis.
Lauren Bellizzi, MS, MB(ASCP) (Class of 2019) started her journey in genetics as an Honors student within the Diagnostic Genetic Sciences (DGS) program at UConn. Lauren was a DGS representative with the TME Mentor Program, a Sanger sequencing technologist within the Center for Genome Innovation under the supervision of Dr. Bo Reese, and later completed a thesis project wherein she validated a Droplet Digital PCR Assay. The project with Dr. Neal Lindemann at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, MA won a Young Investigator Award, a prestigious award for only 3 abstracts at the 2018 AMP conference. The full journal article is: Landry L, Bellizzi L, Bruce J, Rojas-Rudilla V, Diegue S, Duchesne A, Kuang Y, Paweletz C, Lindeman N, and Sholl L. Differential Detection of BRAF V600E and V600K Using a Simple and Sensitive Droplet Digital PCR Assay. J Molec Diag. 2018. 20(6): 1012-13. During Lauren's year in the Health Care Genetics program, she passed her ASCP molecular biology certification examination, rotated with Dr. Rachel O'Neill in Molecular and Cell Biology, and together with Kate Castellano, used cytogenetic techniques in an attempt to address a current gap in knowledge about the genetic makeup of horseshoe crabs. Lauren was a teaching assistant for Medical Cytogenetics, online cell culture training modules, and she led professional development meetings for undergraduate students. For spring 2019, Lauren designed and taught a new style of the class DGS 4246: Contemporary Issues in Human Genetics. Lauren's Master's degree research capstone project was completed during the summer of 2019 under the direction of Dr. Alison Kohan in the department of Nutritional Sciences. To address the growth deficiency phenotype of cystic fibrosis, she analyzed chylomicron synthesis and secretion in the digestive system of mice using a 3D murine entered model system. Lauren's career commenced in September 2019 with the company SEMA4 in NY City.
Sree Arjunan, MS (Class of 2019) joined the Health Care Genetics Program in the fall of 2017 with a bachelor's of science in biotechnology from PSG College of Technology Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. Sree worked within the university while completing her studies as an instructional assistant with the Undergraduate Research for the Health Care Professional Writing course and as a proctor within the Center for Students with Disabilities. Working under the supervision of Jamie Koriewo, CG(ASCP), Sree trained as a cytogenetic technologist for her program internship. In the fall of 2022, she started a new position as Scientist II - Validation Lead at Torus Biosystems!
Anna Smith, MS (Class of 2019) earned a bachelor's of science degree in Allied Health Sciences in 2017 and continued directly on into the Health Care Genetics Professional Science Master's degree program. Anna assisted the Program Director in the developing Genetic Counseling Master's Degree as a student liaison. She completed both laboratory and genetic counseling training labs and courses during the Health Care genetics program and completed a 3-month internship under the guidance of Ginger Nichols, MS, LCGC, and Sharon Voyer-Lavigne, MS, LGC at Mother to Baby, CT. As a state-funded program, MotherToBaby CT provides free, confidential, up-to-date information on all types of exposures for women who are considering pregnancy, pregnant, or nursing. After graduating in May 2019, Anna accepted a technologist position with Genesys Diagnostics, Inc. in Oakdale, CT.
Natalie Schmitt, MS (Class of 2019) joined the Health Care Genetics program in the fall of 2017 with a BA in Biology from Assumption College and minors in both math and music. Natalie's BA educational experience included a thesis titled "From Lab Benches to Hospitals: Investigating the Causes and Treatment Methods of ALS" and work experience as a research assistant with the Hospital for Special Care in New Britain, CT. Perhaps breaking a program record (?), Natalie completed eight laboratory training modules as part of her Health Care Genetics plan of study. Natalie interned with Amy Taylor, Vice President of the Western Region and Principle Investigator for the All of Us Research Program at the Weitzman Institute, Community Health Center, Inc., in Middletown, CT from Jan-April 2019. Natalie updated the Program's playbook and local procedures to accurately reflect the policies and procedures of the site and the research program and assisted with site expansion to the New Britain branch. A fantastic capstone presentation for Natalie, who, if you did not know, is an oboist for the community band. Natalie is now employed in research at the Yale Cancer Center in New Haven, CT.
Nicholas Mosca, MS (Class of 2018) matriculated into the Health Care Genetics PSM program in 2016 - a proud Bostonian and Red Sox fan. Nick used his prior work expertise to teach an online course in the Principles of Mammalian Cell Culture and learned new content while serving as a teaching assistant for an undergraduate course in Medical Cytogenetics. Molecular biology and genomics laboratory skills were honed while Nick was under the mentorship of Dr. Rachel O'Neill working on a project to elucidate the function of a novel small RNA transcribed by the Epstein Barr virus. Nick's professional development included leadership as a member of the Committee on Inter-professional Excellence in Healthcare and as a recruiter for the program - always willing to talk with and meet potential applicants. Nick also volunteered time assisting with a symposium that highlighted the role of epigenetics and environment in cancer risk and development. Nick's internship in the Department of Pathology/Laboratory Medicine at Boston Children's Hospital under the guidance of Dr. Mark Kellogg and Julie A. Rousseau, MS, CGC would be categorized as in the discipline of genetics utilization review. Nick was responsible for developing a billing system, selecting appropriate genetic tests and genetic testing labs, and outlining technical details of the types of tests performed by each company utilized for clinicians at Boston Children's Hospital. After finishing his 6-month internship, he was immediately hired and has been working at Massachusetts General Hospital Research Institute where he is a bioinformatics technologist responsible for coordinating and performing next-generation sequencing experiments. Nick was featured in the 2019 National Professional Science Master's Association Alumni and Graduation Chronicle.
Daniel Bergeron, MS (Class of 2017) had just graduated from UConn with a BS in Nutritional Sciences when he matriculated into the Professional Science Master's degree program. After completing lab training in multiple sections of AH 5720: Theory and Practice of Clinical Genomics, including a week-long next-generation sequencing module with Dr. Bo Reese, he applied his skills toward research under the supervision of Dr. Erin Young at the Center for Genome Sciences at UConn Farmington. Dan worked with Dr. Young performing lab experiments toward understanding gene x environment interactions on pain outcomes, with a particular focus on stress and injury/inflammation as environmental factors. His scientific poster was presented at the ATHENA Research Conference in the UConn School of Nursing on April 19, 2016. Dan caught the "lab bug" and accepted a genomic technologist position at the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine immediately after finishing his master's degree. As a student in our program, Dan served as a member of the Committee on Interprofessional Excellence in Healthcare to facilitate the university’s efforts in interprofessional education/clinical care, scholarship, and outreach/engagement. Most recently, Dan provided a professional development seminar for our Diagnostic Genetic Sciences undergraduates this spring 2019 - thanks, Dan!
Mohammed Sayeem, MS (Class of 2017) applied to the Health Care Genetics program on his career trajectory to become a physician who can incorporate personalized genomic medicine into his practice. Mo, a UConn Biology graduate, completed medical school requirements and specialized courses in his plan of study. Getting experience in the clinical environment, Mo completed an independent study semester and an internship with Dr. William Zempsky and Dr. Emily Wakefield in the Department of Pain and Palliative Medicine at the CT Children's Medical Center in Hartford. Mo worked on various research projects including evaluating the genetics of sickle cell disease. After a long summer of studying... Mo kicked the MCAT. He worked as a behavioral therapist at a school for children with learning and cognitive disabilities and then started as a first-year in the fall of 2018 at UConn's Med School. To read a bit more about Mohammed, please click on the AHEC news link: https://health.uconn.edu/connecticut-area-health-education-center-network/person/mohammed-sayeem/
Mahin Dawood, MS (Class of 2016) was an Allied Health Sciences major at the University of CT before she started her graduate work in Health Care Genetics. Mahin's plan of study was designed to prepare her for a career in health education and counseling. She completed her internship and project under the guidance of Kaitlin Heenehan within the Honors Program at UConn. Mahin was tasked with STEM Scholar Program Management and Advising on the Storrs campus for which she coordinated events including a Mock Genetic Counseling Event and community outreach at Cornucopia. Adding to her credentials, Mahin completed the UConn Nursing Health Professions Education Certificate Program with Dr. Thomas Van Hoof. Mahin took a job as a Research Analyst with the Yale Cancer Genetic Counseling clinic and later advanced to become a Clinical Research Coordinator with the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation at the Yale School of Medicine. In fall 2020, Mahin will be starting at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences toward a doctorate in translational health sciences.
Jennifer Kilbourn, MS, MB(ASCP) (Class of 2016) traveled from Michigan to Connecticut to complete her master's of science degree in health care genetics. She assisted Dr. Laijun Lai with his research bioinformatics during her time on campus. Not afraid of the cold - she completed a 6-month molecular technologist internship with Dr. Greg Tsongalis in the Clinical Genomics and Advanced Technology lab at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, NH. Jen presented a research project titled "Validation and Routine Clinical Use of RT-PCR to Confirm Gene Fusions Detected by Next Generation Sequencing" to a full auditorium of technologists, fellows, post-docs, and docs from across the Department of Pathology at Dartmouth. Congratulations to her for soon thereafter passing the ASCP BOR examination in Molecular Biology! Jen worked as a technologist in the Clinical Genomics and Advanced TechnologyLaboratory for Dr. Gregory Tsongalis for a bit, but Jasper (puppy), missed his home in Michigan so back they went. Jen is now working as a tech at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, MI.
Audrey Morrissette, MS, CGC (Class of 2016) earned her bachelor's degree in health sciences from Quinnipiac University before matriculating into the Health Care Genetics program with the intent to pursue a career in public health education or genetic counseling. Audrey designed and taught undergraduate students how to navigate the genome databases during a lab session of DGS 4235. Her capstone was a grant proposal written in collaboration with her internship supervisor, Jenna E. Schiffelbein, MPH, RD, LD, CHES, SNS at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, Lebanon, NH. The purpose of the grant was to request funding needed to educate primary care providers and community members about hereditary cancer and the importance of accurate family health history. Audrey worked as a patient care advocate before entering Rutgers University Genetic Counseling graduate program in Fall of 2017. Audrey is now a licensed genetic counselor at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.
Lauren Wainman, MS (Class of 2016) joined us in the Health Care Genetics Program after a career as a science teacher. Lauren put her teaching skills to use for a professional development project wherein she developed the content and structure for an online Principles of Mammalian Cell Culture module. An August 2016 graduate, Lauren was voted runner-up for the Graduate Student Intern of the Year by the University and was recognized by the Center for Career Development alongside her internship mentor Dr. Gregory Tsongalis. Lauren researched the role of miRNAs in chronic lymphocytic leukemia while interning in the Clinical Genomics and Advanced Technology laboratory at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, NH. Lauren Wainman loved genetics so much that she decided to continue toward a doctorate in genetics and genomics with Dr. Leighton Core at the University of CT. Dr. Tsongalis is awaiting her post-doc availability!
Jacob Zinn, MS (Class of 2016), a UConn Pathology Bachelor of Science Honors Scholar graduate, completed the Health Care Genetics MS in 2015. Jake's research internship was with Dr. Elaine C. Lee in the Department of Kinesiology. Jake presented his research poster titled " LPS-induced TLR4 Activation during a 164-km Cycling Event in a Hot and Humid Environment" at the CAHNR Graduate Student Research Retreat. A professional through and through, Jake was always willing to help with projects, recruitment, and community outreach. He helped organize a November 2015 program at UConn Hillel titled "Understanding Risk for Breast & Ovarian Cancers: A Discussion for Students as Consumers & Future Healthcare Providers". Jake is now completing the next step in his career path toward his goal of becoming Dr. Jake Zinn. He is in the medical school program at Syracuse University.
Jennifer (Thomas) Miconi, MS, MB(ASCP) (Class of 2016) was UConn's first HCG PSM student! Jen has a BS degree in animal science and work experience as a veterinary tech. In the HCG program, she honed research lab skills in Dr. Ken Campellone's lab and later completed a clinical internship with Dr. Honey Reddi at Transgenomic, Inc. Jen passed the ASCP BOR specialist in molecular biology exam and has been working at Yale since graduation, first in the Tumor Profiling Laboratory, a few year later she transferred to the molecular diagnostics laboratory at Yale, and most recently was promoted to Lab Supervisor in 2020. To find out more about Jen - check out her alumni feature in the National SUMMER 2018 PSM ALUMNI AND GRADUATION CHRONICLE! Jennifer was a featured speaker for the Fall 2021 ISG 5730 Career Development seminar series.