Executive/Advisory Committee

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee is comprised of an OHSU graduate program director and one past/present OHSU PREP faculty mentor. The goal of the Executive Committee is to support the OHSU PREP staff in monitoring the progress of the program, assist in reviewing applications during the year of service, and may help manage any conflicts/issues that might arise.

Swetha Murthy, Ph.D.

Swetha Murthy

Swetha Murthy earned her B.S. from Bangalore University in India. She received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the State University of New York, Buffalo in 2012. Under the guidance of Gabriela Popescu she studied gating mechanism of NMDA receptors for her doctoral research. She trained as a postdoctoral fellow with Ardem Patapoutian at Scripps Research where she studied the functional and physiological characterization of mechanically activated ion channels. Dr. Murthy joined the Vollum Institute as assistant scientist in 2019. Additionally, Dr. Murthy serves as an OHSU PREP Faculty mentor to Tony Munoz (2021 PREP Scholar).

Georgiana Purdy, Ph.D.

Georgiana Purdy

Dr. Georgiana Purdy is a Professor in the Molecular Microbiology and Immunology Department. She earned her bachelor’s degrees in Microbiology and Cell Science (BS, with honors) and History (BA, with honors) from the University of Florida in 1998. She subsequently obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 2003, working on the bacterial pathogen Shigella flexneri. Dr. Purdy performed her postdoctoral training at Cornell University, where she studied the host-pathogen interface between Mycobacterium tuberculosis and the macrophage. Dr. Purdy joined the OHSU in 2008 and established her independent research program focused on M. tuberculosis. The goals of the Purdy Lab are to further define the intrinsic resistance of the pathogen to the host immune response, delineate pathways in mycobacterial cell envelope biogenesis, and identify targets and new strategies for future drug therapy. The lab combines the approaches of bacterial genetics, biochemistry and cell biology to achieve these goals. Dr. Purdy is the Program Director for the interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences (PBMS).

Sandra Rugonyi, Ph.D.

Sandra Rugonyi Headshot

Dr. Sandra Rugonyi is a Professor in the Biomedical Engineering department, where she applies engineering principles to heart and vascular disease research. Dr. Rugonyi started her career in Argentina, where she obtained an MS-equivalent degree in Nuclear Engineering from the Balseiro Institute. She earned an MS and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, and soon after joined the OHSU as a postdoc investigating the mechanics of lung surfactant. Dr. Rugonyi then joined the Faculty of the Biomedical Engineering department at OHSU, where she has been leading interdisciplinary research efforts that combine Mechanical Engineering principles, Biology and Medicine, with the goal of understanding heart development and heart disease, improving diagnoses, and developing novel treatment strategies to cure heart disease and increase the quality of life of patients.  

Dr. Rugonyi is co-director of the Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program at OHSU. She has mentored numerous students with diverse education and background levels, and fosters diversity in her lab. She is recognized for her studies on heart development and congenital heart disease, in the US and abroad. Dr. Rugonyi has been elected to the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) 2022 College of Fellows for outstanding contributions to biomechanics of cardiovascular development and for advocating for diversity in biomedical engineering.

Advisory Committee

The Advisory Committee is comprised of the Executive Committee (above), one postdoctoral fellow from the OHSU Fellowship for Diversity in Research (OFDIR) postdoctoral program, one OHSU PREP alumni, and external advisory members. The goal of the Advisory Committee is to support OHSU PREP staff by providing feedback on programmatic plans as well as assist with reviewing PREP applications during the year of service. 

Joshua Gonzalez, Ph.D.

Joshua Gonzalez Headshot

Joshua Gonzalez is a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Dr. Nicole Bowles and Dr. Steven Shea at the Oregon Institute for Occupational Health Sciences. He received his PhD from Michigan Technological University in integrative physiology with a background in autonomic cardiovascular control. His graduate research focused on how short-term fasting influences autonomic balance and the acute influence of e-cigarettes on arterial pressure and peripheral sympathetic activity in humans.  As a postdoc, Josh’s research focuses on sleep and circadian physiology and the influence of cannabis use and nicotine use on sleep, stress reactivity, and autonomic cardiovascular control. Josh is an OFDIR community fellow and current NHLBI T32 fellow in the pulmonary & critical care medicine research training program. 

Yessica Santana, B.S.

Yessica Santana Headshoot

Yessica earned her Bachelors in Global Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara where she spent several years as a research assistant in a STEM education lab developing online curricula for organic chemistry lessons and a cognitive neuroscience lab studying the neural correlates of risk-decision behavior using fMRI. In 2018, she studied under the mentorship of Dr. Andreea Bostan as a post-baccalaureate of the University of Pittsburgh's Post-Baccalaureate Program investigating the usage of synaptic viral tracers in a retino-cortical circuit of a non-human primates. In 2019, she completed a second post-bacc at Oregon Health & Science University in the lab of Dr. Kevin Wright studying amacrine cell development in the mouse retina. Yessica is currently a 3rd year Neuroscience Ph.D. Candidate continuing her dissertation work in the Wright Lab where she studies how transcription factors give rise to neuronal cell fate by using the retina as a model system.