Skip to Content

Galen Health Fellows

Meet Our Team

Meet the staff dedicated to your success.


David Simmons

Faculty Principal

Dr. David Simmons is the Faculty Principal of the Galen Health Fellows Living and Learning Community and holds joint appointments in anthropology and health promotion, education and behavior.

David received his Ph.D. from Michigan State University and completed a three-year National Science Foundation Postdoc at Harvard Medical School’s Program in Infectious Disease and Social Change in the Department of Social Medicine. Originally from Chicago, David has lived all around the world—Nigeria, Zimbabwe, and the Dominican Republic—and has lived in South Carolina for the past 13 years with his wife, Kimberly (also on faculty at USC), their three children, and a pet Chihuahua, Mocha.

David’s research interests focus on tropical medicine and infectious diseases (especially HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa -- see his book Modernizing Medicine in Zimbabwe: HIV/AIDS and Traditional Healers) -- as well as health inequalities. He teaches in the areas of medical anthropology, global health, ethics, medicine and spirituality, and culture. David has the distinction of having had some of the tropical diseases he teaches and writes about, namely malaria, Chikungunya, dysentery, and a botfly larvae infestation (ask him about it sometime).

David is an avid tennis player (USTA 4.0) who is passionate about travel and adventure. In Zimbabwe, he once paddled down the Zambezi River, a crocodile and hippo-infested waterway,  on a three-day canoe trip where he got up close and personal with lion, rhinoceroses, zebra, giraffes and wildebeests. David loves to mentor undergraduate students (he’s mentored many Magellan awardees) and was awarded the Mungo Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2009. He also loves broadening students’ understandings of health and helping them to be their best selves!



Cassandra Pope

Assistant Faculty Principal

Cassandra Pope received her bachelor's degree from the Darla Moore School of Business at USC-Columbia in 2009. She completed her master's degree in Healthcare Information Technology at USC in 2015.

While completing her master's degree, Cassandra developed a deep interest in the provision and quality of more patient-centered, efficient healthcare. Her desire to be involved in the manner in which students think about healthcare led her to the Galen Health Fellows program.

Cassandra has worked at USC for over 8 years, serving as the Assistant Director for Campus Visits in the USC Visitor Center during that time. She is originally from Aiken, SC. Cassandra enjoys traveling and spending time with family and friends.

Preston Kerns

Preston Kerns

Graduate Assistant

Preston Kerns received his bachelors degree in anthropology from the University of South Carolina in 2014.  He completed his Master’s degree in anthropology in 2016.  He is currently pursuing his PhD.

While working on his Master’s degree Preston developed an interest in the impact of cultural perceptions on the spread and severity of infectious diseases.  He is interested in how and why specific perceptions form around particular diseases in different cultures.  Currently, he is researching healthcare providers’ perceptions of the opioid epidemic in South Carolina.

Preston was born and raised in Summerville, South Carolina.  Before becoming a graduate assistant with Galen Health Fellows he held a position as a teaching assistant in the department of anthropology.  He enjoys trivia, state parks, and going to the movies.




Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.