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Marine Invertebrate Zoologist, Interior Designer Join Mississippi College Faculty

Dr. Jana N. Thoma, left, and Rachel Lantz have joined the Mississippi College faculty.
Dr. Jana N. Thoma, left, and Rachel Lantz have joined the Mississippi College faculty.

Jana N. Thoma, Ph.D.

Dr. Jana N. Thoma, a marine invertebrate zoologist, has joined the Mississippi College faculty as an assistant professor of biological sciences.

Dr. Beth Barlow, professor and chair of biological sciences, described Thoma as an experience teacher and an engaging lecturer.

“We are excited that Dr. Jana Thoma has joined our biology faculty,” Barlow said. “Her expertise in marine biology strengthens our connection to the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory and will provide marine biology classes and field trips that MC biology majors desire.

“In addition, she will make a great role model for those who want to major in an ecology-based area, especially our female biology majors.”

After receiving her B.S. in chemistry and biology from Berry College, Mount Berry, Georgia, Thoma earned her M.Sc. in Coastal Sciences at the University of Southern Mississippi, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, and her Ph.D. in environmental and evolutionary biology at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, where she was an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Biology. She has served as a kindergarten teacher at Blessed Beginnings at Lakeshore in Byram and as an upper science teacher at Hillcrest Christian School.

Thoma has coauthored three articles in peer-reviewed professional publications and numerous research posters presented at scientific meetings. She is currently an editor for Zootaxa, a journal focused, in part, on the publication of new species descriptions and monographs in animal taxonomy and systemic zoology.

She has participated as a research scientist on numerous expeditions and has appeared as an invited expert at museum workshops internationally. She has been a guest lecturer and laboratory instructor at institutions of higher learning throughout Louisiana and Mississippi. Her research interests include understanding the phylogenetic relationship and systematics of marine organisms, particularly deep-sea gorgonians, and parasitic isopods.

Rachel Lantz, B.S.

Rachel Lantz, an interior designer and former adjunct instructor at MC, has joined the Mississippi College faculty as an instructor in art.

Dr. Mandy Berdami, associate professor of art, said the departmental faculty are thrilled to have Lantz teaching full-time in the Interior Design Program.

“Experience gained from working several years in the interior design industry allows her to provide a unique perspective, and she offers expertise on a variety of interior design project types,” Berdami said. “Her creativity and enthusiasm are contagious, and our students really enjoy her classes.”

After receiving her B.S. in interior design summa cum laude from Mississippi State University, Lantz served as an adjunct instructor for eight interior design classes at MC, where she assisted in the site preparation for the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) review. She also has six years of experience as an interior designer for Dale Partners Architects. She is pursuing her M.S. in architecture from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

An active member of the International Interior Design Association, she is a Mississippi Certified Interior Designer No. 50. She has served as American Society of Interior Designers South Central Chapter membership director, ASID SCC Mississippi District finance chair, and a member of the Mississippi Coalition for Interior Design Board.