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School of Medicine Greenville

Steering Committee

The steering committee provides advice and ensures the program is successfully delivered. Each member is invested in your success. Member responsibilities include program monitoring, prioritizing goals, and formulating and initiating directional decisions to best meet student needs.

Brooks T McPhail, PhD

Brooks T McPhail, Ph.D.

Dr. McPhail earned a BS in Biology from South Carolina State University and a PhD in Toxicology, with a concentration in pharmacokinetics, from the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy Department of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences Interdisciplinary Toxicology Program.

She received postdoctoral training in computational pharmacokinetics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Agency of Toxic Substance and Disease Registry (CDC/ATSDR) and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center Division of Clinical Pharmacology. Both projects used computational models to explore the pharmacokinetics of xenobiotics in children.

Pearl Fernandes, PhD

Pearl Fernandes, Ph.D.

Dr. Pearl Fernandes is a Professor of Biology at the University of South Carolina Sumter. Born in Mumbai, India, Dr. Fernandes earned her BS Degree in Biological Sciences and her MS Degree in Foods, Nutrition and Dietetics in Mumbai, India. She obtained her PhD in Biological Sciences at the University of South Carolina Columbia. She completed her postdoctoral training at the University of Florida, Gainesville, in gene- nutrient interactions under National Academy of Sciences Fellow, Dr. Robert Cousins.  

Dr. Fernandes currently teaches Introductory Biology courses and Genetics for pre-med and health science majors, and is an advisor and mentor to students in these majors. Her research focuses on Health Disparities and Water Quality issues, and she actively involves undergraduates in her research.

Joseph B. Thomas Jr.

Joseph B. Thomas Jr.

Joseph B. Thomas, Jr. ’87, is a 30-year veteran who has coached and counseled students to develop and enhance their skills in order to grow personally and professionally.

As the Director of the Career Center, Mr. Thomas is responsible for all phases of the Center, events, job fairs, and the development of relationships with internal and external stakeholders. Mr Thomas also supervises the placement of cooperative education and internship assignments, conduct presentations, develop Career Center programs and activities. Additional duties and responsibilities include the teaching/instructing following classes; Guid-210-01, Professional Development, Guid-201-02, Co-Op Education, Guid-210-02, Internship.

Prior to joining SCSU, Thomas worked as a Manager and Assistant Manager with companies such as K-Mart, and Rite Aid Pharmacy. During this time, Thomas increased sales by 15% resulting in over 2 million dollars in revenue. Mr. Thomas has received multiple awards for his service during this time.

Mr. Thomas holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Arts Education from South Carolina State University. In April of 2013, he completed and received a certificate of achievement from Leadership South Carolina through the Clemson Institute for Economic and Community Development. He is a member of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, Southern Association of Colleges and Employers, South Eastern Association for Employment in Education (SAEE), Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church, and the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

Jena Chojnowski

Jena Chojnowski, Ph.D.

My research consists of two main areas of interest: developmental biology and stem cell biology. My study system is vision; specifically, I study the development of eyes in different species and how a population of stem cells in the eye maintains vision over time. The gene PAX6 is very important for eye development and stem cell maintenance and loss of half of its expression results in developmental eye defects as well as dysfunctional stem cells.

My lab focuses on a developmental comparative anatomy approach to understand how one organ that accomplishes one goal, to detect light and convert it into electro-chemical impulses in neurons, can be utilized in so many diverse ways.

In addition, my lab focuses on the relationship between PAX6 and stem cell maintenance. Without properly functioning stem cells, our vision rapidly degenerates. Studying how stem cells develop and are maintained is important for future biomedical advances in stem cell therapy. I graduated from the University of Florida and did two postdocs in developmental biology at the University of Georgia.

Mary Katherine Mills, PhD

Mary Katherine Mills, Ph.D.

Mary Katherine Mills, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at the University of South Carolina Aiken. She obtained her BA from Georgia Southern University and went on to earn her PhD from Kansas State University.

She currently teaches Introduction to Biology, Fundamentals of Microbiology and Medical Entomology.

Her research interests focus on the molecular mechanisms behind egg development in blood feeding insects.

As an academic advisor and researcher, her goal is to assist interested students in finding rewarding careers in STEM.

Larry Lenard Lowe, MD, PhD

Larry Lenard Lowe, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Larry L. Lowe, MD, PhD, is a Professor of Biology, and Chair of the Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Health Science Department at Benedict College with over 40 years of teaching experience. He serves on various local, statewide and federal Boards. His research focus is differential gene expression in eukaryotic organisms.

Dr. Lowe has postdoctoral training in Molecular Virology from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Emory University School of Medicine, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and in skeletal myogenesis from the Department of Biology, University of Virginia.

Diandra Randle, PhD

Diandra Randle, Ph.D.

Dr. Randle is an Assistant Professor of Biology in the Department of Biological & Physical Sciences at South Carolina State University. She has over seven years of higher education instructional experience.

Additionally, she has served as an undergraduate research coordinator and research mentor. She is very passionate about mentorship, health disparities, and cancer research.

  Latrice Jones, MS 

Latrice Jones, M.S. 

Latrice Jones is the Academic Coordinator for Upward Bound Program and instructor for the Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Health Science Department. Her passion is to be an effective educator while acquiring culturally relevant knowledge about students to create a quality education.

She joined Benedict College faculty in 2011 after graduating from Claflin University with her Master’s in Biotechnology and her Bachelor’s in Biology from Benedict College. As she works on her doctorate in Teaching and Learning at the University of South Carolina, she has been teaching STEM courses.

Recently, Latrice Jones was promoted to the Academic Coordinator for Benedict College Upward Bound Program.

Joshua V. Ruppel, PhD

Joshua V. Ruppel, Ph.D.

Joshua V. Ruppel, PhD is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at University of South Carolina Upstate. Along with teaching organic chemistry courses, Dr. Ruppel serves as the Director of UofSC Upstate’s SC-INBRE/NIH-funded undergraduate research program and regularly engages undergraduates in his own research as they prepare for graduate school, professional school and entering STEM careers after graduation.

Dr. Ruppel has been assisting pre-medical students as an advisor for over ten years and currently serves as the Pre-Health Professions Coordinator at USC Upstate. 


Julie M. Linton, M.D., CDE, FAA

Julie M. Linton, MD, FAAP, is the Assistant Dean for Admissions and Clinical Associate Professor and at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville (UofSC SOMG).

Dr. Linton’s academic work focuses on optimal clinical care, community engagement and advocacy for policy-level action regarding children in immigrant families, with a framework of health equity. Dr. Linton is a Certified Diversity Executive (CDE®) and was a recent fellow in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Culture of Health Leaders Program from 2017-2020.

Paul Catalana

Paul V. Catalana, M.D., MPH

Dr. Catalana is currently a clinical professor of pediatrics and board certified in both pediatrics and adolescent medicine.

He is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the South Carolina chapter of the academy. He was a member of the Institutional Self Study Task Force for the developing medical school in Greenville, chaired the medical student subcommittee and served on several other subcommittees. He has delivered multiple invited lectureships and serves as a contributor to pediatric board review publications and courses

Majdouline Aziz

Majdouline Aziz

Dr. Aziz joined the University of South Carolina Union as an Assistant Professor of Sociology, where she also served as the Director of the Student Academic Success Center. When she earned tenure and was promoted to the rank of associate professor, she transitioned into the role of Interim Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs. During her time at UofSC Union, she has enjoyed developing and teaching new classes and has maintained an active research agenda focusing on religious identity development.

Dr. Aziz frequently works with students beyond the classroom, collaborating with undergraduate researchers to help develop their scholarly skills and co-authoring a peer-reviewed journal publication. Dr. Aziz has served on the editorial board for Caravel, UofSC’s undergraduate research journal from 2019-2022. She was selected as a fellow in the inaugural class of the UofSC-system Academic Leadership Fellow Program (2018-2020), was named UofSC Union's Distinguished Teacher of the Year in 2017, was awarded the Palmetto College Chris P. Plyler Excellence in Service Award in 2020, and received the Distinguished Research Service Award from the Office of the Vice President for Research for UofSC Columbia in 2021.

Libby Ricardo, MFA

Libby Ricardo, MFA

Libby Ricardo is an Assistant Professor of Theater in the Department of English, Theater and Interdisciplinary Studies at USCB. She is an award-winning actor, director and teacher. Libby serves as Program Coordinator for Interdisciplinary Studies. She earned a BFA with honors at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2008 and an MFA in Performance at the University of Georgia in 2012. Her teaching and research emphasize theater skills as life skills, including extensive work with simulated patient programs.


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