Our Impact

Check out some highlighted accomplishments by the Genome Ambassadors!

Want to collaborate with us to offer an event at your institution? Submit an Event Request Form.

Professional Development Events:

The Genome Ambassadors Program Seminar Series highlights the stories of distinguished speakers to provide students, alumni, and staff with opportunities to learn about unique career trajectories, build skills in leadership and advocacy, and embrace diversity as professionals in the dynamic life sciences field.

Fall 2023 Seminar Series - Professional Development: Education and Advocacy

  • Career Champion Insights: How Experiences Shape Perspective | November 28, 2023

Beth Gard, President of the Down Syndrome Association of Connecticut (DSACT), provided a wealth of knowledge on Down Syndrome, her personal experience with Down Syndrome, and how that has shaped her into the person and professional she is today. Beth’s involvement and advocacy through DSACT inspired students and alumni to get involved in advocacy.

Event Volunteers: Ella Hamberlin, Karina Mancini

  • Career Champion Insights: Patient Advocacy| November 16, 2023

Our second seminar of this series will be with Jen Farmer, CEO, and Brigid Brennan, General Counsel and Advocacy Director, or the Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Foundation (FARA). Jen and Brigid spoke about their career journeys and the role FARA plays in patient advocacy.

Event Volunteers: Madison Lemieux, Karina Mancini

  • Career Champion Insights: Community Support | October 19, 2023

The GAP proudly supports a UConn Career Champion philosophy to offer opportunities for students in professional development. Our first seminar in this series begins with Claudia Rodriguez, a Community Support Specialist, who shares insight on her career path and current community advocacy role with the Spanish population at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Event Volunteers: Karina Mancini

Spring 2023 Seminar Series - Bridging the GAP: From Students to Career Professionals

  • Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities Panel | April 20, 2023

The Connecticut Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (CT LEND) is one of 52 LEND programs across the country that focuses on the training of future leaders from a wide variety of professional disciplines in order to improve the health care delivery system for children with autism and other neurodevelopmental disabilities.

Event Volunteers: TBD, Karina Mancini

  • Career Champion Insights: Shifting Career Trajectory | April 6, 2023

Our third seminar of this series will be with Susan Smith, Ph.D. Dr. Smith joined Mystic Aquarium as a research scientist in September 2022, where she studies the diversity and function of marine mammal microbiomes. She has a passion for teaching and enjoyed her time instructing the UConn graduate course Biological Oceanography, as well as mentoring students in the Research Experience for Undergrads (REU) program. 

Event Volunteers: TBD, Karina Mancini

  • Career Champion Insights: Bioinformatics Careers | March 29, 2023

Hiral Desai, a Diagnostic Genetic Sciences alumn, will provide a lunchtime seminar about Bioinformatics career opportunities for the Health Care Genetics PSM Professional Development series.

Event Volunteers: TBD, Joshua Salem

  • Career Champion Insights: Exploring Science Career Options | March 23, 2023

Our second seminar of this series will be with Erika Headrick, a Genomic Technologist II at BioNano. Erika will talk about her career path from academia to government and then to industry genetics, her current role, and share the key tips that got her to where she is today.

Event Volunteers: TBD, Karina Mancini

  • Career Champion Insights: Strategies to Expand Your Opportunities | March 9, 2023

The GAP proudly supports a UConn Career Champion philosophy to offer opportunities for students in career exploration. Rob Studivan, MBA: Senior Corporate Recruiter at eClinical Works and UConn Career Champion shared key insights about navigating common early career questions and challenges.

Event Volunteers: Ashley Thammavongsa, Karina Mancini

Fall 2022 Seminar Series - Systems Genomics Careers: Meet the Professionals

  • Career Spotlight: Leadership in Genetic Counseling | November 29, 2022

Attendees will be introduced to Lila Aiyar, MS, CGC: Genetic Counselor for the Hawaii Community Genetics Program and Project Specialist for the Western States Regional Genetics and Minority Genetics Professional Networks.

Event Volunteers: Stephanie Schofield, Julie Hyland

  • Career Spotlight: Biotech & Life Science Entrepreneurship | October 25, 2022

Attendees were introduced to Michael Weiner, Ph.D.: CEO, Founder, and Vice President of Molecular Sciences at Abbratech Inc. to learn about his experiences navigating the path from academic to industry research and developing skills in entrepreneurship with a traditional research background.

Event Volunteers: Laura Holt, Julie Hyland

  • Career Spotlight: Biomedical Research and Education | October 4, 2022

Attendees were introduced to Vanessa Scanlon, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at the UConn Health Center for Regenerative Medicine and Skeletal Biology to learn about life in the lab and research progress.

Event Volunteers: Shreya Chintalapudi, Rachael Massey

Spring 2022 Seminar Series - Exploring Topics in Diversity, Advocacy, and Genetics

  • Learning to Lead: Advocating for Diversity in STEM | April 8, 2022

Attendees were introduced to Kerry-Ann Stewart, PhD: Assistant Director, Office of Health Career Opportunity Programs at UConn Health, Joseph Browne, BA: Site Director, SMASH Northeastern, and Kathleen Renna, BS: Scientific Program Analyst at the National Human Genome Research Institute, to learn how to create opportunities for diverse students in STEM fields.

Event Volunteers: Ashley Thammavongsa, Gillian McNeil

  • Career Spotlight: Life in the Lab as Research Scientists | April 5, 2022

Attendees were introduced to Rachel O’Neill, PhD: Director, UConn Institute for Systems Genomics and Professor and PI, Molecular & Cell Biology, and Lisa Nigro, PhD: Post-Doctoral Associate, UConn Microbial Analysis, Resources, and Services Lab, to learn about their career paths, accepting challenges, celebrating successes, and embracing mentorship throughout the journey from Post-Doc to Principal Investigator.

Event Volunteers: Joshua Salem, Lucy Owusu

  • Learning to Lead: Leadership and Advocacy in Genetics | March 22, 2022

Attendees were introduced to Ky’Era Actkins, PhD: Postdoctoral Fellow, Epidemiology Branch of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and Visiting Postdoctoral Scholar, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, to enhance their DEI knowledge, learn how to serve as an ally for diverse groups, and develop leadership and advocacy skills to strengthen their contributions to a STEM discipline beyond the science.

Event Volunteers: Nichole Alley, Rachael Massey

  • Next Career Steps: Be a Stellar Genetic Counseling Program Applicant | March 9, 2022

Attendees were introduced to Maria Gyure, MS, CGC: Director, UConn Genetic Counseling PSM, Clinical Genetics and Genomics, and Clinical Communications and Counseling Graduate Certificate Programs, to gain key insights about developing a strong MS in Genetic Counseling program application.

Event Volunteers: Nichole Alley, Kim Toth

  • Next Career Steps: Be a Stellar Master’s/Ph.D. Program Applicant | March 1, 2022

Attendees were introduced to Judy Brown, PhD, CG, MB(ASCP), Director of the UConn Health Care Genetics Professional Science Master's Program and Assoc. Director of the Genetic Counseling PSM Program to learn the best practices for applying to M.S. and Ph.D. programs.

Event Volunteers: Paul Isaac, Gillian McNeil

  • Career Spotlight: Meet a Genetic Counselor and Molecular Pathologist | February 23, 2022

Attendees were introduced to Kira Dineen, MS, LCGC, CG(ASCP)CM: Genetic Counselor, Webinar Host, and Podcast Host and Producer for DNA Today, and Alexa Siddon, MD: Director, Molecular Diagnostics and Laboratory Medicine and Assoc. Director, Hematology at the Yale School of Medicine to learn about their career trajectories.

Event Volunteers: Julie Hyland, Rachael Massey

Fall 2021 Seminar Series - ISG 5730: Career Preparation

The seminars in this series highlighted topics such as resume building, cover letter writing, interview preparation, and career planning from the perspective of genetics and genomics professionals. Speakers shared details about their personal career journeys, challenges they experienced, and strategies to develop professional competencies. Attendees included students from ISG academic programs, including the Health Care Genetics PSM and Clinical Genetics and Genomics Graduate Certificate programs. The series featured the following speakers:

  • Laura Minegar, MBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP | November 17, 2021
  • Beth Settje, MEd | November 3, 2021
  • Nicole Pauloski, MS | October 27, 2021
  • Carly Murphy, MS, CGC (UConn DGS Alum) | October 20, 2021
  • Pam Chudzik, MA | October 13, 2021
  • Yashoda Sharma, Ph.D. | October 6, 2021
  • Miriam Ortiz, MBA | September 29, 2021
  • Jennifer Miconi, MS (UConn HCG PSM Alum) | September 22, 2021

Educational Outreach:

Career Conversations: It’s in your Genes: Genetics, Chromosomes, and Beyond | March 9, 2023

As part of GAP’s education initiative, and as a current alumni member of GAP now working in the field, Karina gave a presentation to a class of high school students. She spoke about her educational path through her undergraduate years, a day in the life of a genetics lab tech, and guidance on how to get started in the genetics field. The students were very engaged, had many questions about her path through college, and were curious about how to achieve a career as a genetics professional.

Event Volunteers: Karina Mancini

Martin Kellogg Middle School Field Trip | November 18, 2022

Event Volunteers: Joseph Rich, Emma Beard, Ella Hamberlin, Stephanie Schofield, Paul Isaac, Cristine Leto, Lucy Owusu, Lisa Nigro, Gillian McNeil

Career Conversations: Celebrating DNA Day - Careers in Genetics | April 12, 2022

A class of 120 eighth-grade students discussed why genetics is an essential part of human biology and learned about diverse career opportunities in the field.

Event Volunteers: Rachael Massey, Gillian McNeil

Martin Kellogg Middle School Field Trip | April 1, 2022

Event Volunteers: Mary DeLise, Paul Isaac, Angela Su, Cristine Leto, Christianne Senechal, Kim Toth, Rachael Massey, Gillian McNeil

Career Conversations: Clinical Genetics & Genetic Counseling | April 27, 2021

A class of 35 sophomore-level high school students discussed clinical genetics and the genetic counseling profession. The talk was titled, "Genetics and Healthcare: the Role of a Genetic Counselor".

Event Volunteer: Gillian McNeil

Fundraising Events:

Angelman Syndrome Foundation (ASF) 5K Walk | May 20, 2023

Angelman syndrome (AS) is a rare neuro-genetic condition that shares characteristics with other disorders, including autism, cerebral palsy, and Prader-Willi syndrome. People with AS are happy and excitable - an individual with AS will light up a room with a smile and laughter. The AS 5k annual walk celebrates people living with AS and raises money to support clinical research and treatment development.

Event Volunteers: Rachael Massey & TBD

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's CT Chapter Great Strides | May 20, 2023

GAP members are back in action at the CFF Great Strides event! The Genome Ambassadors team is raising money in 2023 for cystic fibrosis research.

Event Volunteers: Kim Toth, Gillian McNeil, & TBD

United Multiple Sulfatase Deficiency Foundation's Run for Rare Disease | April 23, 2023

The Multiple Sulfatase Deficiency Foundation is working toward a cure for the rare, lethal genetic condition, Multiple Sulfatase Deficiency (MSD).  The foundation holds a 5k “Zebra Run” every year to raise money to cover the costs of life-altering treatments for kids with MSD. The event can be run either virtually or in person. The GAP hopes to host the event outdoors on April 23, 2023 (date subject to change), with a location TBD. For more on the MSD foundation, visit https://curemsd.org/.

Event Volunteers: Stephanie Schofield & TBD

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's CT Chapter Great Strides | May 22, 2022

GAP members created the UConn Genome Ambassadors Great Strides team with undergraduate and graduate students, alumni, and faculty to raise $1,000 for cystic fibrosis research.

Event Volunteers: Julie Hyland, Cristine Leto, Valerie Kadysheva, Lucy Owusu, Kim Toth, Rachael Massey, Michaela Green, Gillian McNeil

Conferences & Other Events:

UConn Institute for Systems Genomics Networking Event | November 8, 2022

Event Volunteers: Jen Nguyen, Joseph Rich, Nicole Kosakowski, Rachael Massey, Kim Toth, Laura Holt, Lisa Nigro, Gillian McNeil

Connecticut Genetic Counselors' Association Annual Conference | October 14, 2022

The GAP was invited to participate in the first annual CT Genetic Counselors’ Association conference. GAP undergraduates, graduate students, and alumni will talk to genetic counselors, other genetics professionals, and prospective students about GAP’s mission and the events we offer. The GAP is excited to grow genetics outreach programs in New England and engage with the clinical genetics community!

Event Volunteers: Stephanie Schofield, Laura Holt, Rachael Massey, Gillian McNeil

ISG Educational Program Events:

Genetic Counseling Professional Science Master's Program Open House | September 15, 2022

GAP members coordinated UConn's Genetic Counseling PSM Program Open House in collaboration with Director, Maria Gyure, and Assoc. Director, Dr. Judy Brown. The Open House and Q&A Session will take place on Thursday, September 15th at 3:00 pm ET. Check out the program website for more information: https://geneticcounseling.uconn.edu/.

Event Volunteers: Gillian McNeil

Health Care Genetics Professional Science Master’s Program Open House  | February 21, 2022

GAP members coordinated UConn's Health Care Genetics PSM Program Open House in collaboration with Director, Dr. Judy Brown, and HCG PSM alumni. The Open House and Q&A Session took place on Monday, February 21st at 6:00 pm ET. Are you interested in the genetic sciences? Considering going to graduate school to pursue your interests in any genetic discipline: medicine, laboratory, research, or counseling? Check out the program website for more information: https://healthcaregenetics.uconn.edu/.

Event Volunteers: Rachael Massey, Gillian McNeil