Group Members

Pictured above, the 2012 Branchini Bioluminescence Research Group. Members from left to right: Milton Garrett III '14, Professor Bruce Branchini, Tara Southworth, Justin Rosenberg, Danielle Fontaine, Curran Behney, Yumi Kovic '14.

Tara Southworth, B.S., Senior Research Technician
B.S., Molecular and Cell Biology,  University of Connecticut, 1996, and a post-baccalaureate Certificate in Diagnostic Genetic Sciences.
I have previous experience in solid tumor research, cytogenetics, and molecular genetics. Some projects I am working on are examining a proposed domain rotation of luciferase and determining the bioluminescence properties of mutants of P. pyralis and L. italica luciferases. Outside of the lab, I enjoy running with my dog, reading sequels based on Jane Austen’s books, and spending time with my two sons.

Danielle Fontaine, M.A., Research Technician
B.A.,  Molecular Biology, Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania, 1999, M.A. in Cell and Molecular Biology, Boston University, 2002.
I was a laboratory instructor for introductory biology labs as well as anatomy and physiology lab coordinator at Boston University. My current research focuses on determining the properties of P. pyralis mutants and creating a “turn on” biosensor for biothiols present in blood plasma. Outside of lab I enjoy reading, being outdoors, salt and freshwater fishing and sports.

Justin Rosenberg, B.A., Research Technician
B.A., Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology (BCMB, Connecticut College.
The BCMB program allowed me to perfectly blend my interests in both chemistry and biology. As an undergraduate, I performed research under Professor Marc Zimmer, studying firefly luciferase through computational modeling and analysis. Current research involves studying firefly luciferase domain rotation, characterizing luciferase substrate analogs, and examining enzyme crystal structures for potential site-directed mutagenesis. During the academic year, I teach science at the Norwich Free Academy in addition to organic chemistry labs at the College. Outside of lab I like to spend time at the beach, swimming, fishing, and boating, playing lacrosse and sculpting.

Curran Behney, B.A., Research Technician
B.A., Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Drew University, 2010.
As an undergraduate, I researched structural analogues of the chemotherapeutic agent cisplatin. I joined the bioluminescence research group in early 2011 and my current research focuses on mechanistic and product analyses of firefly luciferase with novel mutations and substrates. I also teach introductory chemistry labs during the semester. Outside of lab, I enjoy spending time outdoors and on the water.

Milton Garrett III '14
I am a Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology major (BCMB) with a pre-med track. I joined Dr. Branchini’s research group in the summer of 2012 and am excited to join the lab. I’ve previously worked with Professor Stanton Ching for two years and conducted an independent study on synthesizing manganese oxide nanoparticles via a one-pot reaction with various di-alcohols. I am a member of the College’s pre-health club and have completed the Paramedic Internship Program with Lawrence and Memorial Hospital. My goals after attaining an undergraduate degree are to enroll in a medical school and specialize in endocrinology. I enjoy working in a lab environment and learning new things. Outside of lab, I love to play/watch any sports, play Apples to Apples and Taboo with friends, and play the piano.

Yumi Kovic '14, Undergraduate Research Student
I am an undergraduate student at Connecticut College currently undertaking a biochemistry major with aspirations to attend medical school after college. I have been a part of the Bioluminescence Research Group since the beginning of the 2011 summer. For the past year I have been working on a project exploring the characteristics of novel luciferin analogs. These characteristics include sustained light emission, for some over an hour, and a variety of colors emitted through bioluminescence. Besides being in lab, I like to spend my time exercising, researching random topics on Google, volunteering with the paramedics at Lawrence and Memorial Hospital, and as of late, teaching myself to cook (no fires yet!).

Derrick Roy '14
As a Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology (BCMB) major here at Conn I can experience the vast field of biology while also being able to examine specific chemical interactions that allow all organisms to function.  While I originally came to Connecticut College as pre-med, I recently have shifted my goal to attend graduate school in continuing research in my field.  I joined the Branchini lab as an independent study student in the spring of 2012 with an interest in organic synthesis. My research has been primarily focused on synthesizing the novel luciferin analog benzothiophene luciferin and similar benzothiophene derivatives, which will help to further other projects in the Branchini lab. When I am not ‘nerding’ in the lab, out I enjoy walking dogs at the Connecticut Humane Society, playing classic Nintendo games and reading Steven King novels.

Anthony Guerrero '16
I’m a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major (BCMB) and a dance minor. I joined professor Branchini’s lab in the summer of 2013. I’m a Science Leader through Professor Marc Zimmer’s program. I’ve taken Professor Zimmer’s freshman seminar class, Glow, which gave me some background on Professor Branchini’s research. Science has always been my passion and I knew I wanted to start working in a lab as soon as possible to gain experience. I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to work with Professor Branchini and learn more about his research as well as important lab techniques. After college, I plan on going for my master's and maybe going for my Ph.D. In the future, I would like to become a professor at some college or university while also doing cancer research.


The group visited the “Creatures of Light” exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City as the guests of Louis Glunz at Regis Technologies, Inc.

Contact Information:

Dr. Bruce Branchini
Hans and Ella McCollum '21 Vahlteich Professor of Chemistry
Phone: (860) 439-2479
Hale Laboratory
Box 5214
Connecticut College