Connie Mullin Branscomb


Constance Walden Hammond was born in Annapolis, Maryland on May 31, 1939, the eldest of four children of Jacques Redway Hammond and Louise Hopkins Kemp.  A daughter of  a civilian math professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, she grew up in historic Annapolis and learned to love the sea.  As member of the class of 1961 of Radcliffe College of Harvard University she majored in biochemistry, sang in the Radcliffe Choral Society, sailed on the Charles River, and did a summer research project at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.


After graduation, Connie studied art history and German at the University of Munich for a semester and traveled extensively in Italy, France and Germany.   During the following two years she taught biology and chemistry at the Dana Hall School in Wellesley, MA, and worked as a research assistant at Woods Hole during the summers.  


She married  Michael Mahlon Mullin, whom she had met in a church choir as a college freshman, on December 29, 1964, and they settled in La Jolla, CA.   Mullin, a Harvard graduate in biology, had recently been appointed to Scripps Institution of Oceanography of the University of California in La Jolla.   By 1966 Connie had earned a Masters Degree in biology at San Diego State University and was hired to teach introductory biology, and embryology there -- the latter class coinciding with her first pregnancy.    Following one of several summers at the Friday Harbor Laboratory in Washington State with her family, she authored “Egg-laying in the Planktonic Copepod Calanus helgolandicus (Claus)” which appeared in Crustaceana (1968).


The couple raised three children, Stephen J. Mullin, now Professor of biology at Eastern Illinois University, Keith A. Mullin, an inventor and founder of  Make Ideas and BioSilo and a manager for construction projects, and  Laura M. Thompson, Senior Alliance Marketing Manager for TurboTax, Intuit  Corporation.  While the children were growing up Connie was active in the local public schools, was president of the La Jolla Democratic Club (with 600 members, the largest Democratic Club in California!), served on the board of the La Jolla Chamber Music Society, and sang with the La Jolla Renaissance Singers, which Mike conducted.    Between car pools for soccer, children’s cathedral choir, and music lessons, etc., she was also part-time editorial assistant to UCSD professor Murray Goodman, editor of the journal Biopolymers.   Phone calls during dinner were rarely accepted.


Following a family sabbatical year during 1981-82, primarily in Townsville, Australia, Connie – making a radical career change – founded Classical Performing Artists Management to represent chamber music groups and young opera singers, most of whom were based on the West Coast.    Thirteen years later she sold the business, having been successful in placing artists nationally and internationally.   In addition, she served on the boards of the La Jolla Athenaeum Music and Arts Library and Westwind Brass. 


Still active politically, she volunteered as treasurer and campaign manager for the successful 1996 and 2000 campaigns of her friend and Radcliffe grad, Frances O’Neil Zimmerman for the San Diego Unified School Board.   The re-election campaign was hard fought, pitting Zimmerman against the San Diego establishment’s half-million dollar TV broadside.


Connie has been active in non-profit institutions in La Jolla, among them the Athenaeum Art and Music Library, the La Jolla Garden Club and the La Jolla Historial Society, of which she was elected President in May 2009. 


As a volunteer in the performing arts, Connie produced three UCSD faculty review shows in the 1980s, one of which opened the faculty club in 1988.  In 2003 she produced the SIO Centennial Show, celebrating the institution’s rich heritage in oceanography, creativity, and humor.   The centerpiece of this production was the first public performance of the musical “Endless Holiday,” written in 1953 by then SIO graduate student John Knauss, with lyrics by Ellen Revelle (wife of Roger Revelle, SIO Director and UCSD founder) and Helen Raitt (wife of SIO scientist Russ Raitt).


Michael Mullin died very suddenly on December 19, 2000, following heart by-pass surgery.   In his memory Connie and their children established the Michael M. Mullin Graduate Student Fellowship in Biological Oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.


After her husband’s death, Connie began to explore more of the world – white water rafting in Costa Rica, zodiacing among ice floes in Alaska, and snorkeling in the Galapagos.   In 2003, in a fortunate turn of events, she joined a Zegrahm Expeditions trip – from Easter Island to Tahiti.  It was on that amazing adventure – including a dramatic escape from Pitcairn Island, hiking amongst over-grown archeological sites in the Marquesa Islands, and drift-snorkeling in the Tuamotos – that she met Lewis M. Branscomb, then living in Concord, MA.   They were married almost two years later in Telluride, CO, on July 3, 2005.