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Office of the Vice President for Research

UofSC Postdoctoral Association

Executive Board

At UofSC, postdoctoral scholars receive research training and professional opportunities to help them build upon the foundation they developed in their doctoral training. At the same time, these scholars provide great service to their academic communities, enhancing research and educational programs throughout the university.

The UofSC Postdoctoral Association was formed in early 2014 to connect postdoctoral fellows from every discipline, and provide opportunities for them to share their experiences and learn from faculty and other mentors. Their mission is to support and improve the postdoctoral training experience at UofSC by providing opportunities and resources for networking, professional development, social interaction, research and teaching.

 

2020-2021 Executive Board

Kathryn Miranda

President Kathryn Miranda, PhD, Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine

Dr. Kathryn Miranda is an immunologist who studies the immunomodulatory effects of cannabinoids in inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.  She earned her Ph.D. in Biomedical Science from the University of South Carolina under the mentorship of Drs. Mitzi and Prakash Nagarkatti.  Her dissertation focused on the roles of epigenetics and microbiota in endocannabinoid-mediated regulation of inflammation during high-fat diet-induced obesity; and was supported by a SPARC graduate research grant from the Office of the Vice President for Research.  Dr. Miranda has received scientific achievement awards from professional societies to which she holds active membership including the American Association of Immunologists, Society of Toxicology, and International Cannabinoid Research Society.  She currently serves as Postdoctoral Representative for the Mechanisms Specialty Section of the Society of Toxicology.  Her postdoctoral research at the UofSC School of Medicine is aimed at elucidating anti-inflammatory mechanisms of phytocannabinoids, such as Cannabidiol, in macrophage-driven inflammatory disorders.  She is excited to promote advancement of the UofSC PDA by supporting ongoing initiatives and officially representing the association before university leadership.

Xueying Yang

Vice President Xueying Yang, BS, MD, Ph.D,  Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, Arnold School of Public Health

Dr. Xueying Yang received her degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health from The Chinese University of Hong Kong and a master’s degree from Peking Union Medical College in Beijing, China. She also served as a public health practitioner in the Chaoyang Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Beijing. Dr. Yang’s research interests focus on the health promotion of biomedical preventions for HIV infection (e.g. Antiretroviral Therapy (ART), Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PreP)) through application of social and behavioral sciences, especially among men who have sex with men. Dr. Yang’s current research at CHQ focuses on the longitudinal studies related to HIV stigma and HIV-associated comorbidities among people living with HIV/AIDS.

Secretary Snezana Milosavljevic, PhD, Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience, School of Medicine

Dr. Snezana Milosavljevic received her Ph.D. in Neuroendocrinology from the University of Bristol, United Kingdom. Prior to joining the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at McMaster University, Canada. Her broad research interests span the fields of neuroscience, cardiovascular science, endocrinology, and cancer research. Currently, Dr. Milosavljevic is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Ana Pocivavsek at the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience. Her research focuses on investigating the role of kynurenine pathway in sleep and cognition. She is dedicated to promoting exchange of ideas, networking and collaboration in the UofSC PDA.

Alex Rutkovsky

Treasurer Alex Rutkovsky, PhD, Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine

Dr. Alex Rutkovsky obtained a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at Appalachian State University (ASU) in Boone, NC, where she began research under the mentorship of Dr. Claudia Cartaya-Marin and Dr. Ece Karatan. Following, she completed a master’s degree in Molecular and Cell Biology at ASU where she applied genetic and biochemistry techniques, including gene deletion, mutation and expression, to characterize polyamine transport and biofilm formation in V. cholerae, resulting in the identification of the first norspermidine transporter. She then earned her doctorate in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC under the direction of Dr. Stephen Ethier and Dr. Robin Muise-Helmericks.  Her dissertation studied targeted interventions to treat breast cancer, with a focus on genomic instability and functional genomics. Dr. Rutkovsky is currently mentored by Drs. Mitzi and Prakash Nagarkatti at the UofSC School of Medicine, and has diverse research interests related to immunology, biodefense, and complementary and alternative medicine.

Jessica Chan

Outreach Officer Jessica Chan, Ph.D., Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders

 Dr. Jessica Chan received her Ph.D. in Education from Queen’s University at Kingston in Canada. Her research interests include children’s language and literacy development, bilingualism, learning disabilities, and math cognition. Currently, Dr. Chan is a SSHRC postdoctoral research associate under the mentorship of Dr. Suzanne Adlof in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. Dr. Chan's goals are to understand the factors that support children’s academic success to inform teaching, assessment, and intervention. Dr. Chan is passionate about building community and supporting research mentorship. Her goals in the PDA are to create a positive space to discuss topics related to both professional and personal well-being.

Kiesha Wilson

Resource Development Officer Kiesha Wilson, Ph.D.,  Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine

 Dr. Wilson was awarded her Ph.D in July 2019 from the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of South Carolina. Her research focused on genomic and proteomic evolution of bacteriophage that infect Caulobacter crescentus bacteria. From her PhD training she has gained expertise in genomic data analysis, molecular biology, and microbiology. She currently works as a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Dr. Mitzi Nagarkatti, where her overall focus is mechanisms of inflammation in different disease models. Dr. Wilson is currently elucidating epigenetic mechanisms of neurodegeneration in transgenic Gp120 mice, as well as studying the microbiota and epigenetic mechanisms of colitis caused by antiCD40.

Nadia Al-Sammarraie

International Officer Nadia Al-Sammarraie, MBChB, MS, Ph.D., Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology, School of Medicine

Dr. Nadia Al-Sammarraie received her Master and Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Science from University of South Carolina School of Medicine. Her master thesis focused on elucidating the role of antidiabetic medicine, Metformin, in treatment of childhood tumor (Neuroblastoma). Her doctoral dissertation focused on understanding the cell-type specific role of Transforming Growth Factor Beta (TGFβ) ligands in pathogenesis of Congenital Heart Defects (CHD) and Calcific Aortic Valve Disease (CAVD).  She currently works as postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Dr. Swapan K. Ray in the department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology (PMI) at University of South Carolina School of Medicine. Her current research focus is understanding the molecular and genetic regulations of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) by Bone Morphogenic Proteins (BMPs) in Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) and brain tumors.

Kandy Velazquez

Faculty Adviser Kandy T. Velázquez, Ph.D., FACSM, Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine

Dr. Kandy T. Velázquez is from Isabela, Puerto Rico. She did her bachelor’s degree in Biology at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez. Then, she pursued her master degree in Medical Physiology at the Medical Sciences Campus-UPR under the tutelage of Dr. Juan Carlos Jorge. For her thesis, she studied the role of 3-alpha androstanediol on hedonic, reinforcing, and anxiety-like behaviors in rats. After receiving her PhD in Exercise Science-Applied Physiology from the University of South Carolina investigating the role of nutraceuticals on cancer cachexia under the mentorship of Dr. James A. Carson, she joined the laboratory of Dr. Angela Murphy to pursue postdoctoral training on obesity promoting cancer. Her graduate work was funded by RISE-program (UPR-MSC), PREP-Program (USC), SLOAN Scholarship (USC), SEAGEP (USC), Diversity supplement (NIH-NCI), ASPIRE (USC), Mentor/Mentee grant (SSMN), and a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award (NIH-NCCIH). Dr. Velázquez’s lab focuses on investigating the neuro-immune mechanism by which colorectal cancer and colitis promote visceral nociception (pain). In addition, her lab studies the effects of an herbal formula as a new therapy to treat cancer pain. Her life outside academia is concentrated in spending quality time with friends/family and going on walks with her daughter Iyla Carolina and her baby boy Raiden Roy.

Philip Busbee

Faculty Adviser Philip Brandon Busbee, Ph.D., Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine

Dr. Philip Brandon Busbee is a University of South Carolina alumni with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences from UofSC-Aiken and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Biomedical Sciences from UofSC School of Medicine. After obtaining his BS in Biology, Dr. Busbee spent two years working in industry at the pharmaceutical labs of GlaxoSmithKline before enrolling as a Ph.D. student at UofSC School of Medicine. His dissertation research, under the mentorship of Dr. Mitzi Nagarkatti, focused on investigating the mechanisms associated with the anti-inflammatory properties of natural indole products found in cruciferous vegetables (e.g. indole-3-carbinol, or I3C)​ against infection with a bacterial superantigen, staphylococcal enterotoxin B. After obtaining his Ph.D., Dr. Busbee accepted a postdoctoral research position in the laboratory of Dr. Mitzi Nagarkatti where he applied his previous knowledge of the anti-inflammatory properties of the natural plant indole product I3C into mouse models of colitis and colitis-associated colon cancer. In the latter half of his postdoctoral research position, he also served as a program coordinator for two NIH-funded Centers directed by Dr. Prakash Nagarakatti and Dr. Mitzi Nagarkatti, the COBRE Center for Dietary Supplements and Inflammation (CDSI) and Center for Complimentary and Alterative Medicines. He currently is a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology and funded by the NIH CDSI COBRE as a Target Faculty PI. His research focuses on studying the complex relationship between the immune system and the host gut microbiome during colitis and colitis-associated colon cancer, with special emphasis on the role of interleukin-22 in regulating host defense against pathogen-associated microbial dysbiosis.

Staff Adviser: Lauren Clark, Ph.D., Office of the Vice President for Research

 

 

 

 

Committee Member Spotlight

PJ Wisniewski

Resource Development Committee Member, PJ Wisniewski, PhD, Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine

Dr. PJ Wisniewski is an exercise physiologist who received his Ph.D. in Kinesiology and Applied Physiology from Rutgers University in New Jersey. His doctoral work focused on the anti-inflammatory aspects of endurance exercise in the preservation of colon health in the context of diet-induced obesity.  He currently works as a postdoctoral research associate under the mentorship of Dr. Mitzi Nagarkatti in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology. Dr. Wisniewski’s current research focus is to elucidate the molecular and immunological processes through which dietary compounds confer a therapeutic benefit in colitis. As such, he is most passionate about promoting intestinal health and treating intestinal disorders through lifestyle interventions. His primary goal in the PDA is to see its mission of service to fellow postdocs continued.

 

 

Past Executive Board Members

2019-2020 Executive Board

Hasan Falah Kashef Alghetaa

President Hasan Falah Kashef Alghetaa, VMD, MSc, PhD, Department of Pathology, Immunology and Microbiology, School of Medicine

Dr. Alghetaa obtained his veterinary medical degree in 2001 from the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Baghdad, Iraq, followed by a master of science in theriogenology in 2004 and a PhD in reproductive physiology in 2008 from same institution. He served as Assistant Professor in Department of Veterinary Obstetrics and Surgery, University of Baghdad. Through his clinical experiences, Dr. Alghetaa authorized and edited a book entitled “Hormonal Causes Leading to Libido Loss in Iraqi Local Male Goats”, published by Noor Publishing. In 2014, as a visiting scientist in biomedical sciences, he joined the School of Medicine at the University of South Carolina, where he became involved in toxicology fields, particularly immunotoxicology. Since then, he has presented his work many times at SOT annual meetings as well as meetings of the American Association of Immunology, the International Congress of Toxicology, the International Congress of Immunology, and others. His presented poster was awarded as second honor place by the Vice President for Research in University of South Carolina during 2018-Discover USC event. Also, he has published many peer-reviewed papers related to different diseases generated by toxicity effect of self-immune system. He focused mainly on studying how the modulated epigenetic profile of immune cells and dysbiosis of microbiome are leading to toxic effects of T cells and myeloid cells in different diseases like endometriosis. Along with his duty as President of PDA-USC, Dr. Alghetaa was one of the founder of Arab Toxicologist Association Known as ATA-SIG, which is established in 2019 under a prestigious Society of Toxicology and served as Vice President-Elect in its executive member board for 2019 – 2020.

Xueying YANG

Vice President Xueying YANG, BS, MD, Ph.D, Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, Arnold School of Public Health

Dr. Xueying Yang received her degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health from The Chinese University of Hong Kong and a master’s degree from Peking Union Medical College in Beijing, China. She also served as a public health practitioner in the Chaoyang Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Beijing. Dr. Yang’s research interests focus on the health promotion of biomedical preventions for HIV infection (e.g. Antiretroviral Therapy (ART), Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PreP)) through application of social and behavioral sciences, especially among men who have sex with men. Dr. Yang’s current research at CHQ focuses on the longitudinal studies related to HIV stigma and HIV-associated comorbidities among people living with HIV/AIDS.

Kathryn Miranda

Secretary/Treasurer Kathryn Miranda, PhD, Department of Pathology, Immunology and Microbiology, School of Medicine

Dr. Kathryn Miranda is an immunologist who studies the immunomodulatory effects of cannabinoids in inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. She earned her Ph.D. in Biomedical Science from the University of South Carolina under the mentorship of Drs. Mitzi and Prakash Nagarkatti. Her dissertation focused on the roles of epigenetics and microbiota in endocannabinoid-mediated regulation of inflammation during high-fat diet-induced obesity; and was supported by a SPARC graduate student research grant from the Office of the Vice President for Research. Dr. Miranda has received multiple scientific achievement awards from professional societies to which she holds active membership including the American Association of Immunologists, Society of Toxicology, and International Cannabinoid Research Society. Currently, she is performing research at the UofSC School of Medicine aimed at elucidating the anti-inflammatory mechanisms of phytocannabinoids, such as Cannabidiol, in macrophage-driven inflammatory disorders.

Jessica Chan

Outreach Committee Chair Jessica Chan, Ph.D., Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders

Dr. Jessica Chan received her Ph.D. in Education from Queen’s University at Kingston in Canada. Her research interests include children’s language and literacy development, bilingualism, learning disabilities, and math cognition. Currently, Dr. Chan is a SSHRC postdoctoral research associate under the mentorship of Dr. Suzanne Adlof in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. Dr. Chan's goals are to understand the factors that support children’s academic success to inform teaching, assessment, and intervention. Dr. Chan is passionate about building community and supporting research mentorship. Her goals in the PDA are to create a positive space to discuss topics related to both professional and personal well-being.

Kiesha Wilson

Resource Development Committee Chair Kiesha Wilson, PhD, Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine

Dr. Wilson was awarded her Ph.D in July 2019 from the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of South Carolina. Her research focused on genomic and proteomic evolution of bacteriophage that infect Caulobacter crescentus bacteria. From her PhD training she has gained expertise in genomic data analysis, molecular biology, and microbiology. She currently works as a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Dr. Mitzi Nagarkatti, where her overall focus is mechanisms of inflammation in different disease models. Dr. Wilson is currently elucidating epigenetic mechanisms of neurodegeneration in transgenic Gp120 mice, as well as studying the microbiota and epigenetic mechanisms of colitis caused by antiCD40.

International Committee Chair Nadia Al-Sammarraie, MBChB, MS, Ph.D., Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology, School of Medicine

Dr. Nadia Al-Sammarraie received her Master and Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Science from University of South Carolina School of Medicine. Her master thesis focused on elucidating the role of antidiabetic medicine, Metformin, in treatment of childhood tumor (Neuroblastoma). Her doctoral dissertation focused on understanding the cell-type specific role of Transforming Growth Factor Beta (TGFβ) ligands in pathogenesis of Congenital Heart Defects (CHD) and Calcific Aortic Valve Disease (CAVD).  She currently works as postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Dr. Swapan K. Ray in the department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology (PMI) at University of South Carolina School of Medicine. Her current research focus is understanding the molecular and genetic regulations of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) by Bone Morphogenic Proteins (BMPs) in Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) and brain tumors.

Kandy T. Velázquez

Faculty Adviser Kandy T. Velázquez, Ph.D., FACSM, Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine

Dr. Kandy T. Velázquez is from Isabela, Puerto Rico. She did her bachelor’s degree in Biology at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez. Then, she pursued her master degree in Medical Physiology at the Medical Sciences Campus-UPR under the tutelage of Dr. Juan Carlos Jorge. For her thesis, she studied the role of 3-alpha androstanediol on hedonic, reinforcing, and anxiety-like behaviors in rats. After receiving her PhD in Exercise Science-Applied Physiology from the University of South Carolina investigating the role of nutraceuticals on cancer cachexia under the mentorship of Dr. James A. Carson, she joined the laboratory of Dr. Angela Murphy to pursue postdoctoral training on obesity promoting cancer. Her graduate work was funded by RISE-program (UPR-MSC), PREP-Program (USC), SLOAN Scholarship (USC), SEAGEP (USC), Diversity supplement (NIH-NCI), ASPIRE (USC), Mentor/Mentee grant (SSMN), and a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award (NIH-NCCIH). Dr. Velázquez’s lab focuses on investigating the neuro-immune mechanism by which colorectal cancer and colitis promote visceral nociception (pain). In addition, her lab studies the effects of an herbal formula as a new therapy to treat cancer pain. Her life outside academia is concentrated in spending quality time with friends/family and going on walks with her daughter Iyla Carolina and her baby boy Raiden Roy.

Staff Adviser: Lauren Clark, Ph.D., Office of the Vice President for Research

 

 

  • President: Vancho Kocevski, Ph.D., Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Vice President: Mohammad Rifat Haider, PhD, Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior
  • Treasurer: LaDrea Ingram, PhD, South Carolina SmartState Center for Healthcare Quality
  • Secretary: Mrinmay Chakrabarti, PhD, Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy
  • Resource Development Committee Officer: Hasan Kashef Alghetaa, VMD, MSc, PhD, Department of Pathology, Immunology and Microbiology
  • International Officer Committee Chair: Tine Verreet, Ph.D., Department of Biological Sciences
  • Outreach Committee Chair: Evelyn Chukwurah, Ph.D., Department of Biological Sciences
  • Faculty Advisor: Ratanesh K. Seth, Ph.D., Department of Environmental Health Sciences
  • President: Ratanesh K. Seth, Ph.D., Department of Environmental Health Sciences
  • Vice President: Marpe Bam, Ph.D., Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology
  • Treasurer: Alexandra Kingston, Ph.D., Department of Biological Sciences
  • Secretary: Rachel Saylor, Ph.D., Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • International Officer Committee Chair: Tine Verreet, Ph.D., Department of Biological Sciences
  • International Officer Committee Member: Vancho Kocevski, Ph.D., Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Outreach Committee Chair: Alexandra Basilakos, Ph.D., Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Faculty Advisor: Sayward Harrison, Ph.D., Department of Health Promotion, Education and Behavior 

  • President: Madison DeMello, Ph.D., College of Nursing
  • Vice President: Brielle Stark, Ph.D., Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Secretary/Treasurer: Sayward Harrison, Ph.D., Department of Health Promotion, Education and Behavior, and SC Smart State Center for Healthcare Quality
  • President: Amanda Sharko, Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience
  • Vice President: Jennifer Flynn, Exercise Science
  • Secretary/Treasurer: LeAnna Ledford, Earth and Ocean Sciences
  • Faculty Advisor: Claudia Benitez-Nelson, Earth and Ocean Sciences
  • Staff Advisor: Lauren Clark, Office of Research

 


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