Genomics Center

Opened in 2020, the Fletcher Jones Foundation Genomics Center is a collaborative hub for DNA research at Occidental College.


We have a special focus on using historical DNA from biodiversity collections in modern molecular research. Our primary goals are to facilitate professional research and train Occidental College undergraduates in cutting-edge genomic techniques, equipment, and analysis to prepare them for jobs in biotech, government, or academic research.

Physical Space

Located on the 3rd Floor of the Bioscience building (room 311), the 1,000 square foot FJF Genomic Center contains one large wet lab, one freezer room, and one clean room for ancient DNA extraction. The space joins Biology to the Moore Lab of Zoology, acting as a physical hub between research programs.

Major Equipment

  • Next-generation DNA sequencing: llumina MiSeq - 15 Gb of output with 25 million sequencing reads and 2 × 300 bp read lengths, primarily used for targeted resequencing
  • DNA Fragmentation: QSonica 800R (24 samples)
  • Bioanalyzer Agilent 2100 Gel Electrophoresis system for high-sensitivity DNA quantification
  • qPCR Machine: CFX96 Touch Real-Time PCR Detection System
  • BioRad T100 single-block, 96-well thermal cyclers (4)
  • Eppendorf Centrifuge 5424R (cold centrifuge capacity)
  • Qubit fluorimeter for quantifying DNA
  • Freezers: -80°C, -20°C and -4°C
  • Chemical Fume Hood (one in clean room)
  • Laminar Flow Hood: Labconco Purifier® Logic®+ Class II B2 Biosafety Cabinet with UV light



Associate Professor, Biology; Director, FJF Genomics Center

Dr. McCormack uses museum specimens and genomes to study the evolutionary history of birds, focusing especially on how both ancient landscape changes and more recent human-caused environmental changes affect birds’ distributions, appearance, and DNA.

Dr. McCormack publishes in peer-reviewed...

Research Associate, Moore Lab of Zoology and Genomics Center

Whitney has experience with genomics and museum collections. She is currently a PhD student in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology program at UCLA where she is studying the genetics of color evolution using large-scale biodiversity data. From 2012-2019 she was the head of the Moore Lab DNA program...

Steering Committee

Professor, Biology

Joseph Schulz teaches zoology, biochemistry, and vertebrate physiology. His research focuses on the activity and evolution of venom peptides in fish-hunting cone snails.

Associate Professor, Biology

Amanda Zellmer’s research focuses on the utility and development of computational methods for studying spatial ecological and evolutionary processes, particularly in the context of conservation biology.

Project Proposals

Anyone at Occidental College may propose projects to the Director. The Director will make decisions on priority of projects in consultation with the Steering Committee. In general, projects in the Biology Department or Moore Lab using biodiversity collections will take precedence, followed by other collaborations that explore environmental themes, especially those involving undergraduates in a substantive way. Projects outside the college will be considered as staffing permits.


For information or to propose a project, contact John McCormack.

Extramural Funding

  • 2015, Fletcher Jones Foundation, $750,000 for construction and Equipment
  • 2018, National Science Foundation, $226,000, DBI-1828738, MRI: Launching an undergraduate-driven Genomics Center through acquisition of an Illumina MiSeq


Tsai WLE, ME Schedl, JM Maley & JE McCormack. 2020. More than skin and bones: comparing extraction methods and alternative sources of DNA from avian museum specimens. Molecular Ecology Resources. In press.

(undergraduates in bold)