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School of Medicine Columbia

  • Dean Harmon speaking at Dean's Awards Dinner

School of Medicine Columbia holds annual awards dinner

17 individuals were honored at the 2023 event.


The University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia recently held its annual Alumni and Dean’s Distinguished Service Awards Dinner in downtown Columbia at 1208 Washington Place. Seventeen individuals were recognized for their contributions to the health care field and their service to the School. A complete list of award categories, along with recipient and biographical information can be found below.

Alumni award winners group photo.

Alumni Awards

The Alumni Awards are presented annually by the School of Medicine Columbia Alumni Association to recognize our most dedicated alumni and friends who have demonstrated outstanding achievements in their respective fields while also strengthening the alumni community and school. Awardees are chosen by a selection committee comprised of alumni, faculty, staff and students.

There are eight award recipients in 2023:

Jade Cohen Photo


Jade Cohen, MD, is a general psychiatrist at Prisma Health in the Midlands and clinical assistant professor in the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia Department of Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Science. Cohen was born and raised in the Upstate of South Carolina and moved to Durham, NC, where she attended Duke University, earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology with distinction. Following graduation, Cohen worked in research at Duke in the years prior to medical school matriculation at the School of Medicine Columbia. She had an early interest in psychiatry and after obtaining her medical degree in 2018, began her general psychiatry residency at Prisma Health.

During residency, Cohen assisted with medical student and resident education, engaged in academic research, and served on numerous committees, including the General Psychiatry Selection Committee, the Policy Evaluation Committee, and the Task Force for Anti-Racism Training and Education. She was elected assistant chief resident of the General Psychiatry Residency Program during her PGY-3 year and rose to chief resident during her PGY-4 year.

Cohen joined the Prisma Health faculty in 2022, providing emergency psychiatric services to patients in rural South Carolina via telemedicine. She now works primarily as an emergency psychiatrist at Prisma Health in the Midlands. Cohen has continued her involvement with resident and medical student education and finds this to be one of the most rewarding aspects of her career. 

Jodi Dingle Photo


Jodi Dingle, MD, is an assistant professor of Clinical Pediatrics and division director of Pediatric Rheumatology at Prisma Health Children's Hospital in the Midlands. A native of Marissa, Ill., she attended Furman University where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Neuroscience in 2009, before earning her medical degree at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia in 2013. After completing medical school, she matched at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville for her general pediatrics residency. Dingle served as Chief Resident of the Vanderbilt Pediatrics Residency Program following completion of residency, and she remained at Vanderbilt to complete her three-year fellowship in pediatric rheumatology. During her fellowship, she completed the rigorous Harvard Macy Program for Educators in Health Professions. Her fellowship research focused on the use of debate as an educational tool to teach medical students about rheumatology and clinical decision-making.

After completion of her fellowship, Dingle returned to Columbia to establish the Division of Pediatric Rheumatology, a specialty for which there has never been a full time provider in the Midlands. This new division helped to greatly expand access to care for patients with rheumatologic conditions. Dingle actively participates in teaching and mentorship within the pediatrics residency program and with the School of Medicine Columbia. Outside of work, Dingle enjoys sewing, music and spending time with her family.

Troy Hall Photo


Troy Hall, MRC, CRC, serves as the director of Youth Transition Programs at Able SC, directing the organization’s transition programs, advocating for equitable and evidence-based education and transition services, and establishing collaborative community relationships to ensure quality outcomes with transition-age consumers. He started employment at Able SC in August 2018 and has built excellent relationships and partners with local doctors, recovery service providers, and LGBTQIA+ advocacy agencies.

Hall graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia with his Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling in May of 2020 and is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. He worked with the South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department before joining Able SC and believes that everyone in the disability community should have equal access to opportunities and resources to exercise their agency and achieve their goals.

When he isn’t at work, Hall spends time playing board games, wrestling socks from his four dogs and searching for the perfect cup of coffee in Greenville.

Allison Bellomo Photo


Allison Bellomo, MS, CGC, graduated from Furman University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology in 2007, before obtaining her Master’s of Science in Genetic Counseling from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia Genetic Counseling Program in 2009. Upon graduation, she began clinical hereditary cancer genetic counseling at the Greenwood Genetic Center – Greenville Office. Bellomo obtained certification through the American Board of Genetic Counseling in 2010 and transitioned to pediatric and adult genetic counseling in the same office at the Greenwood Genetic Center. She was employed by the Center for almost 10 years before transitioning to the Prisma Health Upstate Cancer Institute in 2019, where she is currently employed as a hereditary cancer genetic counselor. 

Bellomo has served as a lead supervisor for genetic counseling students in the USC program as part of their required clinical rotations since 2010, and she has also provided lectures for the online course Genetic Counseling: Career for the Future through the program. She is a strong advocate for her profession and has spearheaded efforts to garner state licensure for genetic counselors in South Carolina since 2012. Bellomo has also advocated for the genetic counseling profession at the national level, speaking to congressmen regarding CMS/Medicare recognition of genetic counselors as providers.

Bellomo, who is married with three young children, resides in Greenville. She is active in her local church and involved in multiple extracurricular activities that her children participate in.

Carolyn Banister Photo


Carolyn Banister, PhD, is a distinguished biomedical scientist and health care leader dedicated to advancing research and health care equity. She earned her PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia in 2009, where she also served as a student representative on the Alumni Board from 2007-09. Her graduate thesis, under the guidance of Dr. Kim Creek, focused on HPV persistence in college-aged women. Banister's research revealed that African American women face challenges in clearing HPV, contributing to higher cervical cancer rates.

Following her studies at the School of Medicine, she conducted post-doctoral research at Brown University, exploring genetic and epigenetic factors impacting fetal growth. Returning to USC, she continued to focus on health disparities, specifically on the increased rates of colon cancer incidence disproportionately affecting African Americans.

From 2020-22, Banister led a major COVID testing facility serving USC and other universities across South Carolina, showcasing her commitment to public health. Currently, she is pursuing certification as a clinical high-complexity lab director, aiming to bridge the gap between research and clinical practice. Her goal is to bring innovative diagnostic tests to the clinic and validate them at the University of South Carolina.

Banister's career exemplifies her dedication to scientific excellence and health care equality. Her research has had a profound impact on public health, and her leadership during the COVID pandemic highlights her commitment to the well-being of her community. She continues to inspire positive change in biomedical sciences and health care.

Patricia Bouknight Photo


Originally from the Midlands of South Carolina, Patricia Bouknight, MD, graduated Summa Cum Laude from Columbia College and went on to obtain her medical degree from the USC School of Medicine Columbia in 1994. She is a first-generation college graduate.

Bouknight completed her residency at the Spartanburg Family Medicine Residency Program in 1997, where she served as co-chief resident and received recognition for her performance in obstetrics and the South Carolina Academy of Family Practice (SCAFP) Award for Outstanding Resident. She next joined the program’s faculty, practicing full-scope family medicine including primary care, inpatient medicine, newborn nursery and obstetrics.

For further professional development, Bouknight completed a faculty development fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and later the Association of Family Medicine Program Directors’ National Institute of Program Director Development.  

Throughout her 26-year career, she has held multiple roles including program faculty, medical director, lab director, associate program director and program director. She was instrumental in obtaining Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) certification for SRHS clinics in the upstate and initiated the first quality improvement-continuing medicine education (Q(-CME) for the hospital system. 

Bouknight is currently the program director of the Spartanburg Family Medicine Residency Program where she is passionate about family medicine education and training residents and medical students. She has a special interest in women’s health, outpatient primary care and quality improvement. Her contributions to the field have been nationally recognized through numerous presentations and publications.  She is also actively involved in local and state committees and currently serves the Board Chair and Immediate Past President of the SCAFP.  

In addition to her professional contributions, Bouknight has shown a commitment to community initiatives.  Last year on her fifth anniversary as a breast cancer survivor, she rappelled down a 10-story building as part of Over the Edge Upstate to raise both breast cancer awareness and funds for the Cancer Association of Spartanburg and Cherokee Counties. 

Bouknight lives in Spartanburg and has two adult daughters. In her leisure time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, baking and traveling.

Fozia Saleem-Rasheed Photo


Fozia Saleem-Rasheed, MD, is a practicing neonatologist at William Beaumont Children’s Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich.  

Saleem-Rasheed received her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and her path to a career in medicine led her to the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia where she received her medical degree in 1999. 

Saleem-Rasheed completed her residency in pediatrics at William Beaumont Children’s Hospital in 2002 and went on to practice general pediatrics in the community for three years before beginning a neonatology fellowship at the University of Michigan.

After rejoining William Beaumont Children’s Hospital as an attending neonatologist in 2008, Saleem-Rasheed sought opportunities to pursue her interest in global health and humanitarian work. She partnered with organizations such as PCRF (Palestinian Children's Relief Fund) and Med Global to do medical mission work, and these collaborations allowed her to not only raise funds but also travel alongside her American colleagues across the globe, engaging in teaching and furthering her own knowledge.

One of her most recent and impactful experiences took her to Karachi, Pakistan, and the renowned Indus Hospital. This institution serves the impoverished and disenfranchised population of Karachi, a city with over 15 million residents, and does so entirely free of charge. Along with her Med Global Colleagues, Saleem-Rasheed led a training course titled Helping Babies Breathe at Indus Hospital. This course, aimed at preparing individuals in remote areas for neonatal resuscitation, has not only saved countless lives but also facilitated access to healthcare in underserved regions.

Photo of Les Hall, MD


Les Hall, MD, retired from his positions as dean of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia and chief academic officer of Prisma Health in the Midlands in 2023 following more than eight years of service to the school and hospital system.

Hall joined the USC School of Medicine in February 2015. As Dean, he led the education, research, and clinical missions at the school, including all academic and research programs, and supported the growth of undergraduate medical education. He also served as chief academic officer for Prisma Health in the Midlands, clinical partner with the School of Medicine, overseeing the training of the school’s medical students and residents in more than 24 residency and fellowship programs.

Hall received his medical degree from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., and completed an internal medicine residency at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Prior to his time at USC, he previously served as a member of the University of Missouri-Columbia faculty, holding several leadership positions including interim dean and senior associate dean for clinical affairs at the MU School of Medicine and chief medical officer of MU Health Care.

Hall’s academic work has focused on advancing interprofessional education, especially in the areas of quality improvement, patient safety and teamwork.

He has been married to his wife Rose Ann for 45 years. Their two children, Peter Hall and Valerie Granger, also live in South Carolina.

Dean's Distinguished Service Awards

The Dean’s Distinguished Service Awards are annual honors established by the Office of the Dean to recognize individuals who demonstrate excellence in service, leadership, advocacy, and professional accomplishment. Awardees are chosen by a selection committee overseen by the Dean’s leadership team.

There are seven award recipients in 2023:

Kerry LaChance Photo


Kerry Lachance, PhD, joined the faculty of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia in 2005 after more than 20 years of dedicated service in the field of psychiatric rehabilitation in Rhode Island, Florida, and South Carolina. In 2009, she became the director of the Rehabilitation Counseling Program and served in that role until 2022. Lachance led the transformation of the graduate program through two successful accreditation cycles, the latter of which coincided with pivotal changes in the field of professional counseling and resulted in an enhanced graduate degree in clinical rehabilitation counseling.

While at the School of Medicine, Lachance was the principal and co-principal investigator of several U.S. Department of Education grants that focused on vocational rehabilitation workforce development. She also served as evaluator on several SAMHSA grants that addressed homelessness among individuals with mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders. As a member of the School of Medicine community, Lachance served in several roles, including as a member of the Graduate Education Task Force, the Culture and Climate Committee and chair of the Carolina Creed Task Force. 

Lachance's passion is counselor education. She developed graduate-level coursework in counseling and rehabilitation services for LGBTQ+ individuals and provided clinical supervision to countless graduate students and post-graduates seeking professional counselor licensure. Lachance retired from full-time employment in 2022 and continues to serve as a School of Medicine adjunct instructor, community consultant and clinical supervisor.

Nicki Holt Photo


Nicole (Nicki) Holt joined the Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia in 2014 as administrative coordinator to the Department Chair, Dr. Mitzi Nagarkatti. In her daily interactions with the diverse department from varied nationalities, ethnicities, religions, disabilities, and cultural backgrounds, she strives to make all feel welcome, to listen and comfort, assist with concerns, and help all feel happier than when they arrived. 

Holt volunteers countless hours weekly to provide for those in need. Through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, she organizes and helps distribute truckloads of canned goods and supplies to families and churches of varied denominations throughout South Carolina. These food items have also helped the School of Medicine international students when funding was interrupted and they were in need. She works with Lutheran Refugee Services to assist in housing for Ukrainian refugees and she also gives of her time each Sunday to volunteer with the soldiers stationed in the U.S. Army at Fort Jackson.

She loves spending time with her husband, children, grandchildren, cooking and sewing.

Katie Stephenson Photo


Kathryn (Katie) A. Stephenson, MD, graduated from Kalamazoo College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Health Sciences and Psychology. She went on to receive her medical degree from the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine before her pediatric residency at Richland Memorial Hospital where she served her last two years as the elected Chief Resident.

After completing her postgraduate training, Stephenson accepted a faculty position with the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia, Department of Pediatrics and has happily remained at the school since 1996. She has held many positions within the department including 20+ years as the associate residency director, division director for both General and Hospital Pediatrics and Child Abuse Pediatrics. In addition, current roles include vice chair for Medical Staff Affairs and associate medical director for Prisma Health Children’s Hospital.  She has an interest in the social determinants that affect the health of patients and families which she addresses as the medical director for CHAMPS, a medicolegal partnership with the USC School of Medicine. She was also one of the original members of the Carolinas Collaborative, a network of advocacy leaders from both Carolinas who believe that promoting the well-being of children requires integration of clinic, community and population health strategies.  

Stephenson lives in Forest Acres with her husband Steve, and her two daughters, Grace and Lizzie, who are students at USC.

Joseph Kelly-Brown Photo


Joe Kelly-Brown is an MD candidate in the Class of 2024 at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in International Business and Finance from USC. After working for nearly five years in corporate finance, he returned to his alma mater to pursue a new career path that would better fit his passion for working with, and advocating for marginalized communities.

Throughout his time at the medical school, Kelly-Brown has continued his advocacy work through various endeavors. He created a partnership with Richland One School District, allowing him to establish a recurring series focused on clinical education and promoting future careers in medicine for minority students. As the president of the school’s Pride Alliance/LGBTQ+ Medicine Interest Group, he partnered with Prisma Health to organize the school’s first-ever involvement in the South Carolina Pride March. Through his research work with The Ohio State University, he led a project centered on the concept of intersectionality in cancer care, finding its place published in Psychooncology and receiving the James E. Clyburn Health Disparities Student Poster Award. Other work that he has been involved with includes speaking as a panelist for the “See Me In STEM” initiative launched at Midlands Technical College and serving as a student representative on the school’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.

Ana Pocivavsek Photo


Ana Pocivavsek, PhD, joined the School of Medicine Columbia Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience as an assistant professor in 2018. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Duke University and her PhD in Neuroscience from Georgetown University, before completing her post-doctoral training at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. 

Pocivavsek studies the impact of sleep disruptions on cognitive dysfunction — particularly during pregnancy, an important period for early brain development. Her work has brought groundbreaking insight to the cause and treatment of cognitive impairment and mental illness, including schizophrenia. She has been very successful in securing major national funding, publishing work in high-impact journals, mentoring students, contributing to a positive and inclusive academic culture, and building a national and international reputation in her field.

Pocivavsek, who was named a 2022 Breakthrough Star at USC from the Office of the Vice President of Research, is an associate member of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology and serves on the Executive Committee for the International Society for Tryptophan Research. The research program that she has built is focused on investigating novel mechanisms to ameliorate poor sleep quality and cognitive deficits for individuals with neurodevelopment and neuropsychiatric disorders. 

After her participation in the School of Medicine Climate Task Force in 2020, then-Dean Les Hall appointed Pocivavsek as the Chair of the Culture and Climate Committee and her leadership of this highly engaged group has contributed to creating a workplace culture that strives to include and empower all members of the School of Medicine community to contribute to the overall mission. Pocivavsek also seeks to create a welcoming and inclusive culture in her research laboratory, supporting a diverse team amongst her staff and trainees.

Pocivavsek finds her supportive family – husband, two children, parents, and brother – have served as inspiration, propelling her to succeed professionally. 

Gild Cobb-Hunter Photo


Widely respected on both sides of the aisle, the Honorable Gilda Cobb-Hunter also known as “the conscience of the House,” is the longest serving Representative in the South Carolina General Assembly.

Her historic public service portfolio includes becoming the first African American woman elected to statewide office, where she still serves today representing Orangeburg and Dorchester counties; the only freshman legislator appointed to the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, where she is now the ranking member and 1st Vice Chairwoman; and the first person of color elected to lead a legislative caucus as former House Minority Leader. She is also a member of the Joint Bond Review Committee.

Her servant leadership extends nationally as former President of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators; National Committeewoman to the Democratic National Committee; member of the National Conference of State Legislatures Executive Committee; and the first woman of color Chair of the Southern Regional Caucus.

Representative Cobb-Hunter’s longstanding commitment to community service and advocacy is reflected in her alignment and active participation on numerous boards and commissions, including the Community Development Advisory Committee for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond; Center for Women Policy Studies; Grassroots Leadership; Planned Parenthood of South Carolina; South Carolina Fair Share; South Carolina Low Income Housing Coalition; and South Carolina SAFEKIDS.

She currently serves as Social Work Administrator & Chief Executive Officer of CASA/Family Systems, a private, not-for-profit organization serving Bamberg, Calhoun and Orangeburg counties whose primary focus is providing prevention, advocacy, and intervention to individuals and families who have been affected by sexual assault, family violence, and/or child abuse and neglect. She is a former teacher and caseworker for the Orangeburg Department of Social Services.

Representative Cobb-Hunter holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Afro-American History from Florida A&M University and a Master of Arts degree in American History from Florida State University.

She is a native of Gifford, Florida, and is proudly married to Dr. Terry K. Hunter, Executive Director of the Fine Arts Cultural Enrichment Teaching Studios.

David Mott Photo


David D. Mott, PhD, received his doctorate degree from Duke University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Emory University. He joined the faculty at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia as an Assistant Professor in 2005 and is currently a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience. His research, focused on the neural mechanisms of emotion, is internationally recognized, and has received continuous funding since his arrival at USC. Mott serves as a grant reviewer for both USC and the NIH, and served as chair of an NIH study section for multiple years. He was selected as a Breakthrough ‘Rising Star’ at USC for contributions and commitment to research and teaching.

Mott significantly contributes to both graduate and medical student teaching at the School of Medicine, with major roles in teaching and directing neuroscience- and pharmacology-based courses. He serves as the graduate director in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience and director of the neuroscience track of the Integrated Biomedical Sciences graduate program. In these roles Mott has updated and remodeled coursework and training in the doctoral neuroscience program. He also serves as a mentor to new faculty and has successfully mentored many graduate and undergraduate students. He has served on numerous committees at the School of Medicine and at the University, where he chaired the Faculty Welfare Committee for several years. Mott was selected as the faculty member of the year by the M2 Class at the USC School of Medicine for excellence in teaching and received the Distinguished Research Service Award from the Vice President for Research for exceptional commitment to USC’s research community through consistent service.

William C. Gillespie Staff Recognition Award

Named after William C. Gillespie, a former employee in the Office of Administration and Finance, the award recognizes an outstanding staff member at the School of Medicine Columbia whose work performance stands out as an example for all to emulate. Awardees are chosen by a selection committee of peer staff members from clinical, research, and administrative areas.

There is one recipient in 2023:

Charity Dunn photo.


Charity Dunn came to the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in 2004 where she joined the Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy as a research specialist II/laboratory manager. She currently manages the departmental cell culture facility where she runs the day-to-day operations and provides support to all students, staff, and faculty. In addition to managing the cell culture facility, Dunn also manages Dr. Wayne Carver’s research lab where she is instrumental in his research by contributing to the experimental design, execution, and data collection of his research projects.

Dunn received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Pittsburgh in 1999 and worked as a research specialist II/laboratory manager at Pitt until she relocated to South Carolina with her husband who was stationed at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter. She enjoys spending time with her husband gardening and traveling.

Award for Advancement of Women in Science and Medicine

The Award for Advancement of Women in Science and Medicine was established in 2021 by the School of Medicine Columbia Women in Science and Medicine (WiS&M) Committee, in consultation with Dean Les Hall, to recognize outstanding individual and organizational contributions to advancing women leaders in the health sciences. Awardees are chosen by the WiS&M Committee.

There is one recipient in 2023:

Lindsey Dunkleberger Headshot


Lindsey Dunkelberger, MD, is an acute care surgeon at Prisma Health in the Midlands and assistant professor of surgery at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia. Dunkelberger received a BS in Biological Sciences from the University of Georgia and her MD from Mercer University School of Medicine, before moving to Chicago for surgical training at the University of Illinois-Chicago/Sinai Health System. While in Chicago, she completed a post-doctoral research fellowship and received an MPH degree from Northwestern University.

Dunkelberger moved to Los Angeles to become a surgical specialist, completing a Surgical Critical Care fellowship at the University of Southern California, and a Trauma/ACS fellowship at LAC-USC Medical Center. She is certified by the American Board of Surgery in General Surgery and Surgical Critical Care, and by the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma in Trauma/ACS. 

Throughout her education, research investigations, and clinical experience, Dunkelberger has found that the best outcomes are derived from a composition of diverse and unique perspectives. Her mission in training future physicians and scientists is to ensure that individuals representing all aspects of the human experience are valued and deemed necessary to the successful delivery of high quality of care.

In the local community, Dunkelberger is actively involved in local gun violence initiatives, Be SMART secure gun storage campaign, and is leading the founding team for the Midlands’ first hospital-based violence intervention program. She is an instructor for Stop the Bleed and Advance Trauma Life Support courses. Her research interests include trauma patient triage, selective nonoperative management, and gun violence prevention for which she has been published in surgical journals, textbooks, and film.

Dunkelberger is proud to have been the first female trauma surgeon at Prisma Health in the Midlands, and first female faculty advisor for the USC Chapter of the Association of Women Surgeons. She is also a national mentor for the organization and is the AWS representative to the SC American College of Surgeons Board of Directors. She serves as co-chair of the Midlands Multidisciplinary Trauma Research Committee, as the Division of ACS DEI Officer, and on the Clinical Competency Committee for the General Surgery Residency Program. Dunkelberger currently lives in Columbia, with her husband Jeb, and beloved pets, Lemmy Kilmister, Iggy Pop, and Sabi Dunk.

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