We pride ourselves on the diversity of our residents. Please check out the biographies of our current residents and recent graduates.
Juliana Berenyi, DO
University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine
I'm so excited to be one of the chief residents. I was born in New York City and grew up in Connecticut. I attended college at Cornell University where I majored in Nutrition. While at Cornell, I was exposed to the field of international nutrition which sparked my interest in global health. Interested in medicine, but wanting to get hands-on experience abroad prior to medical school, I joined the Peace Corps. My site was in a rural village in Uganda where I worked on HIV/AIDS and nutrition programs, hiked in the mountains and learned to love the local Ugandan food.
After returning to the U.S., I did a brief stint as a research coordinator at Mount Sinai School of Medicine on a community-based diabetes project while applying to medical school. Medical School brought me to the beautiful coast of Maine where in addition to learning, I was able to take advantage of all of the wonderful outdoor activities the state has to offer.
I could not have been happier when I matched to University of Rochester and that feeling remained throughout my 3 years of residency. I traveled to Honduras with our global health program all 3 years which continued to foster my passion for international health. My co-residents are some of the most amazing humans ever and training alongside them was such a privilege. Now as chief resident, I'm thrilled to take on a new role helping to make our residency program even better! In my free time, I enjoy trying new restaurants, traveling, cooking, playing soccer (I play on team here in Rochester), biking, down hill skiing, cross country skiing and hiking.
Jocelyn Young, DO, MS
New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine
I was raised in Central New York in the town of Vestal and have explored a few regions of the state throughout my education. I completed my bachelor’s degree at the University at Buffalo in International Studies which included a formative semester studying in Rome, Italy. I then went on to medical school at NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine on Long Island and was thrilled to match in family medicine at the U of R at the completion of that.
One of my biggest interests within medicine has been advocacy. Since medical school I’ve been involved at local, state, and national levels through both my specialty society and state medical society. I have also been fortunate to attend many American Medical Association policy meetings and have been working to enact policy to change the face of medicine for both patients and physicians for the better.
Outside of medicine, I enjoy exploring the many outdoor activities available and tasting the concoctions of the many wineries and craft breweries in the finger lakes region. I’ve loved getting to know Rochester and the surrounding areas over my 3 years of residency and am looking forward to be staying on as a fourth year chief resident.
Class of 2019
We, the class of 2019, commit to the following:
For ourselves we shall:
● Maintain optimism and passion for life
● Find joy in every day
● Strive to improve “meliora”
● Embrace the challenge of growth
● Celebrate our strengths while acknowledging our weaknesses
For each other we shall:
● Make each other laugh
● Stop, collaborate, and listen
● Create a safe and trusting environment
● Embrace our diversity
● Be honest with one another don’t fear criticism!
For our patients we shall:
● Challenge convention
● Prioritize social justice
● Be humanitarians
Tyler Batey, MD
University of Texas Medical Branch School of Medicine
Alicia Bell, MD
Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine
Greetings! I am an African-American female feminist raised in St Louis, MO as one of three girls. I also have ties to the South, Southwest, and East Coast, but most recently traded the geckoes and desert landscapes of Arizona to become part of the Highland Family Medicine family. I earned my MD from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, a MS in Physiology with a focus on Complementary and Alternative Medicine from Georgetown University, and a BA in Classics and BS in Biology at “the real HU,” Howard University…Bison, you know! I love to read, play multiple instruments, listen to all kinds of music, and eat good food. My myriad interests include health policy, women's health, patient safety and quality, medical informatics, history of medicine, community-based participatory research in underserved communities, physician-pharma relationships and medical education. I see Family Medicine as the ultimate blend of evidence-based, culturally competent and community-focused holistic health care for the entire lifespan. It is the specialty most suited for advocacy and for those who aim to effect change. Personally, I try to live by the words of Dionne Farris, “matter not how many trees that you see, matter how beautiful the ones you see be” mixed with a little Monty Python, “we are the Knights Who Say ‘Ni!’”
I have been honored and blessed to have served as: Treasurer on the Board of Directors for both the SNMA and the NWHN; National Medical Education Coordinator with AMSA; founding Project Manager of PharmedOut, an independent project that empowers physicians and other prescribers to identify and counter inappropriate pharmaceutical promotion practices; pre-IRTA assisting with HIV/AIDS research at the NIAID; and a Barbara Jordan Scholar working on health policy issues on Capitol Hill. At VCU I also participated in the International/Inner City/Rural Preceptorship (I2CRP), which exposes medical students to didactic, community-based, clinical and research experiences addressing underserved populations. And as a co-president for the VCU Student Medical Legal Partnership, I organized lectures and recruited peers to join Legislative Advocacy Day at the Virginia General Assembly. With the VCU SNMA, I coordinated a health policy panel and co-organized two conferences that each attracted media attention and over 100 pre-medical and medical students from DC, VA, and MD. During my first year in medical school, I earned the Best Paper in Human Genetics Award for the creation of consumer-targeted educational material. I have also co-authored articles in consumer health literature and on physician-pharma interactions in the peer-reviewed journals Academic Medicine, PLoS Medicine, and the Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions. I am so elated to serve as a Family Medicine physician in this city and to become part of the Rochester community
Scott Biehl, DO
Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
I was born and raised on the west side of Cleveland, OH and naturally am a diehard Cleveland sports fan (your condolences are appreciated, but not accepted). I attended St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland and I am the middle of 7 kids (6 boys and 1 tough as nails girl). After high school, I came to Rochester which captured my heart the moment I stepped foot in this great city. I attended St. John Fisher College located in near-by Pittsford where I majored in biology and spent some unforgettable years playing college football before having to jump into the real world. It was at Fisher where I met my now wife Abby who is a native of Pittsford and a Mendon High School graduate. We got married here in Rochester in June of 2015 as I started my fourth year of medical school and she continued to teach in the Fairport school system. It was evident to both of us very early on in our relationship that Rochester was where we wanted to plant our roots and we look forward to being in Rochester for many years to come.
Majoring in biology and spending the better half of my first 2 years at Fisher dealing with football injuries (reconstructed ankle, broken leg, and a couple broken ribs to highlight the collection) nudged me into pursuing medicine as a career. It was during those years that I spent a good amount of time with our team doctors and I realized I could see myself doing the same thing. After college I spent a year working as a scribe in the emergency department at Rochester General Hospital before beginning medical school. Throughout my clinical years of medical school, I spent many months on both family medicine and primary care sports medicine rotations during which I was able to further foster my passion for preventative medicine and encouraging healthy and active lifestyles. I could not be prouder to be completing my residency training here with the University of Rochester/Highland Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program! I look forward to taking care of the Rochester community and helping people live healthy and happy lives.
Lauren Hobbs, MD
University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine
I grew up in the village of Williams Bay, WI, where most of my family still lives. I felt the need to explore for college and ventured out to the University of Virginia (Wahoowa!). During college, I had the adventure of a lifetime on Semester at Sea and followed my new interest in global health to work at the ICDDR,B in Dhaka, Bangladesh after I graduated. After that, I was ready to come back closer to home for medical school at the University of Chicago where I had wonderful opportunities to continue my interests in Peru and China as well as through work with underserved areas of the US. My experiences at Rosebud, in particular, have shaped my future career plans, and I hope to work with IHS after residency. In Chicago, I also began to feel more passionate about advocacy (broadly defined), and I joined the single payer bandwagon.
My partner, Paul, and I are looking forward to seeing a different part of the country and being interns together. I'm excited to develop my interests in global health, rural medicine, women's health, advocacy, and teaching at the University of Rochester. Outside of medicine, I love all outdoor activities and sports and can't wait to explore the Adirondacks, Finger Lakes, etc. Before starting intern year, Paul and I are biking from Bucharest to Barcelona! email Lauren Hobbs
Chanh Huynh, MD
University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
Greetings! My name is Chanh Huynh. I grew up in Saigon, Vietnam, and moved to Phoenix, Arizona, with my family at the age of thirteen. Because of the Vietnam war, neither of my parents finished their education, so I have the privilege of being the first in the family to graduate high school, go to college, and becoming a family physician. I obtained my doctor of medicine degree from the University of Rochester, where I fell deeply in love with the city (it’s never the place; it’s the people!). I am delighted to continue my training here in Rochester among some of the most awesome family doctors on the planet.
In my previous lives, I was a tutor (teaching is awesome!), chemical engineering intern, and custodian. Outside of medicine, I spend most of my time building relationships with: Jesus, family, housemates, and friends! My favorite book is the world’s best-selling and most widely distributed book: the Holy Bible. I love going to church to worship, pray, and learn. I also enjoy running, biking, hiking, and playing racquet sports. My favorite location in Rochester is a house on top of the Furman hill. Since I have received freely, my goal is to freely give, especially by serving the impoverished in the community.
Zoe Kostarellis, MD
State University of New York Upstate Medical University
I was born and raised in Rochester, NY, where the majority of my family still resides. After graduating from Spencerport High school, I attended college at the Rochester Institute of Technology where I majored in Molecular Bioscience and Biotechnology. While in undergrad, I received a grant to work on a research project sequencing DNA from Galapagos iguanas. I am a big animal lover and currently have a 5 year old Galapagos tortoise named Prince Zuko. I also had the opportunity to volunteer at Strong Memorial Hospital as a friendly face for elderly patients to converse with while in the hospital. These volunteer experiences helped fuel my journey to fulfill my lifelong goal of becoming a physician.
After graduating from RIT, I attended SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY. During my fourth year, I participated in the Rural Medical Scholars Program, where I was sent to Batavia, NY for 10 months to complete clinical experiences in a rural community. There, I solidified my decision to pursue family medicine, with a special interest in geriatrics and hospice/palliative medicine.
I am beyond thrilled to be able to stay in my home town and join the family medicine team at the University of Rochester. I look forward to building lasting relationships here in Rochester and raising my young family (including Prince Zuko, my husband, and my 4 month old son) in this wonderful community! email Zoe
Rashida Mengi, MD
Medical University of the Americas
Hello! I was born and raised in Burlington County, New Jersey. I am the only child and daughter of a retired law enforcement officer and middle school teacher. I attended Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania where I nurtured my love for science and developed a love for traveling abroad. I was heavily involved in ministry, disaster relief, and other various mission opportunities. I visited Egypt, Holland, Dominican Republic, Kenya, South Africa, and a host of other countries. I chose to individualize my major of Medical Missions and completed a post-bac pre-medical program at Temple University. Desiring a bit more sun, I moved to the Caribbean for the first two years of my medical school training, attending Medical University of the Americas, where I founded a tutoring organization in which the medical school students helped the local youth with math and science. I was also president of the Black Student Association, an organization active in preventative health, holding blood pressure screens and providing education throughout the community. The remainder of my medical school training was completed in Chicago, IL.
I am excited to continue my journey at University of Rochester! I plan to pursue my clinical interests in Geriatrics, Community and Global Health, and Urgent and Emergency Care. I am thrilled to serve the great community of Rochester!
Outside of medicine, I enjoy going to church and small group, reading the Bible, learning more about God, and spending time with my husband and daughter. Other interests include home renovation, interior design, and really good movies.
Amanda Morrison, MD
University at Buffalo School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences
I grew up in Bradford, PA, a small town in Northwestern Pennsylvania. It’s the type of town where no matter where you go, you are sure to see at least a few people that you know well. I loved growing up in the small-town atmosphere, but decided to go to a “bigger city” for undergrad – Buffalo, NY. I went to the University at Buffalo, where I majored in Biomedical Sciences. As my experiences volunteering, working as a medical assistant, and tutoring had only further solidified my desire to go into medicine, I stayed at the University at Buffalo for medical school. It was during medical school that I came to the realization that Family Medicine was my calling. I love that I will be able care for the whole person, the whole family, and work towards the better health of the community in which I live and work; I suppose that relates back to my upbringing in a tight-knit family and small-town community. I could not be more excited to begin my training at Rochester!
While in medical school I met my now husband, Sean, and became the “mother” of our Australian Cattle dog, Red. We love doing anything that requires being outdoors and active with our pup. Sean and I grew up in families that love to cook, but love to eat, share and laugh even more, and so we try to maintain that tradition. I will never turn down the opportunity for good food and good music. I am looking forward to exploring all that Rochester has to offer and calling it our new home! email Amanda
Sonya Narla, DO, MA
Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Hi everyone! I hail from the Steel City of Pittsburgh, PA, where I grew up making forts with my brother and cousins, playing soccer, basketball, and lacrosse, and spending Sundays at my grandparents. I am also a life-long Gold Award Girl Scout and community service has been an integral part of my life since I can remember. I love my family and have two amazing parents, an older brother & sister in law, and a myriad of aunts, uncles, and cousins that I'm very close with. And I can't forget my two dogs, Muschu and Bugs. I also love a good book (nerd alert!), a better cup of coffee, hiking and exploring the outdoors, trying new foods, and traveling. I've had an interest in medicine from a young age, but I consider myself a humanities girl at heart. I majored in English (BA) at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. I was accepted to Case's integrated graduate studies program my junior year and was able to graduate with my Master's degree in Bioethics, with a thesis on End of Life Decision Making. Before medical school, I served as the Executive Director for a global health non-profit called MedPLUS Connect focused in northern Ghana. I actually flew straight from Ghana to Erie, PA to begin the whirlwind of medical school at LECOM. I love family medicine because of the truly multifaceted bio/psycho/social nature and look forward to developing trusting, collaborative relationships with my patients. My partner, Vincent, will be starting his Emergency Medicine residency at Strong Memorial, and we are so excited to start intern year together and explore Rochester!
Izabela Subczynska, MD
Jagiellonian University Medical College
I was born in Germany to Polish parents (my name might have given that away!) and moved to Canada as a baby where our family was completed by my younger brother and our two wiener doggies, Oscar and Maya. I grew up an hour and a half west of Rochester on Lake Ontario in St. Catharines, Ontario. After my junior year at Brock University in my hometown, I finally ventured out on my own and spent a month volunteering at a hospital in India. My travel bug bite led me to reconnect with my roots and eat an abundance of pierogi and cabbage rolls in Krakow, Poland during my medical studies at Jagiellonian University. Studying in the heart of Europe for four years also allowed me to explore many beautiful European countries and unique cultures, while meeting some wonderful people along the way.
In my final year of medical school, I had the opportunity to complete visiting electives in Rochester. I felt so welcomed by residents, faculty and staff at the University of Rochester and fell in love with the warmth of the Rochester community, and the Public Market. As great of an experience as living in Europe has been, I’m thrilled to start the next chapter of my medical career with this move to Rochester. I look forward to being part of the resident team at Highland Family Medicine and focusing on Women’s Health and Global Health. Over the next three years, I also plan on enjoying the Lilac Festival, doing some hiking at Letchworth State Park, and seeing how the Finger Lakes wineries compare to those back home in Niagara-on-the-Lake wine country!
Janeta Szczepanik, MD
Jagiellonian University Medical College
I was born across the river from Detroit because few people know where Windsor, Ontario is and I grew up in a very recently emigrated Polish household. I went on to finish my undergrad degree in Forensic Science with an emphasis on biology at the University of Windsor. Next thing I knew, I was leaving to Krakow, Poland to study medicine and reconnect with my roots. It was an exciting experience but as much as I enjoyed my life studying in Poland, it didn't quite feel like home the way North America does. I really wanted to come back and practice Family Medicine; my favorite part of which is adolescent medicine. Outside of medicine, I enjoy watching movies, spending time with my family and friends, and trying new foods, though I am by no means a good chef! I am a huge animal lover and a great listener. Most of all, I am thrilled to be here and to meet new people as well as to discover what Rochester has to offer.
Yuan Yao, MD, MBA
Tufts University School of Medicine
I was born in China and hail from Boston, MA, where the traffic is impossible and the snow doesn't help. I attended Brandeis University where I majored in Biochemistry. During high school and college, I spent my spare time between photojournalism for school newspapers and volunteer work at Newton Wellesley Hospital, and I occupied my summers with research at Brandeis and pharmaceutical companies. During college and medical school, I worked with the Student Immigrant Movement, a Boston-based student-run organization focused on immigration reform for undocumented minors at both the legislative and grassroots level. I studied at Tufts University School of Medicine, where I completed the four-year MD/MBA program. My passion for working with the underserved made my decision to enter family medicine a no brainer. My professional interests include pain and addiction medicine, sports medicine, and preventative care. Outside of medicine, I enjoy photography, painting, racket sports and outdoor activities. I am excited to be a part of the Rochester family and look forward to providing comprehensive care to the community.
Class of 2020
The mission of the class of 2020 is to best serve our patients by bringing our passion, integrity, humility, empathy and openness to our work. We will strive to become the model physicians that we were inspired to be by advocating for our patients and keeping a holistic view of their beliefs, cultures, and community. We commit ourselves to continue learning to support each other and to maintain joy and balance in our lives.
Rachel Bian, MD
University of Michigan Medical School
Hi everyone! I was born in China and my family moved to the US when I was 3 years old so that my dad could complete his graduate degree in Ohio. After he got his PhD, we moved to Connecticut, where I grew up. I have two younger sisters, and both of my parents are involved in biomedical research. I went to Yale for college, where I quickly decided that basic science research was not the life for me. Summer after freshman year, I did a summer of volunteer work in Ghana working with eye clinics, where I found my passion for medicine and the joys of serving others through healthcare. I subsequently went to University of Michigan for medical school, where I cemented my interests in primary care. I am very excited to be joining the family medicine residency family at U of R! In my free time, I enjoy top roping, nature walks, and hanging out with friends.
Caroline Brotzki Donohue, MD
Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Science at the University at Buffalo
I was born in Syracuse, New York but moved to southern New Hampshire with my parents and sister when I was four years old. I grew up in New Hampshire skiing, hiking, and making occasional trips to Boston, the beach, and (more than occasionally) back to Syracuse to visit my extended family that still lives there today. I made my way back to upstate New York for college at Binghamton University where I majored in chemistry. I attended medical school at University at Buffalo where I realized my passion for full spectrum primary care, serving the underserved, and global health. My first year in medical school I was part of a group of students who were the first to go to a small village in Haiti and run a makeshift clinic out of a high school. I continued to return to this village each year of medical school and have enjoyed creating lasting friendships with the people of the community and watching the goals and successes of the clinic expand over the years. While in medical school I also met my now husband, Patrick, who is from the Rochester area, made me into a bills fan, and always challenges me to look at the bright side of every situation.
In my free time I enjoy running, hiking, and reading. My form of “art” is cooking and I can’t think of anything more relaxing than creating a new dish with a glass of wine and some music playing. I also love spending time with my husband and friends and visiting my family in Syracuse and New England.
Jingnan Bu, MD
New York Medical College
I was born in a city of Northeast China called Jilin. Soon thereafter, my family and I immigrated to North America, where we moved around oh-so many times before settling in Richmond, Virginia. I grew up with my amazing parents and a cheeky younger sister. Eventually, I made my way down to Emory University in Atlanta, GA to study Biology and French Language and Literature. My interest in primary care grew from volunteering at a humble blood-pressure clinic after college, where I first learned to appreciate the social determinants of health. I attended medical school at New York Medical College in Valhalla, NY. There, my interest in women’s health took many forms. I am a member of the American Medical Women’s Association, and led a toiletry drive for a local emergency domestic violence shelter. Within family medicine, I am particularly interested in women’s health, palliative medicine, and advocacy.
I met my partner, Frank, in medical school. We start our journey in Rochester together, where he is an Internal Medicine resident at UR. Beyond medicine, I love any activity surrounded by greenery or on the water. I enjoy eating new foods, live music and comedy, dancing, and dreaming about owning a dog!
Jacob Castiglia, MD
Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo
I grew up in Horseheads, NY, a small town in the Southern Tier where I spent my childhood playing baseball and pretending to be a Jedi. After high school, I attended Canisius College in Buffalo, NY majoring in biochemistry. I took this time to both learn the basic sciences and to see different parts of the world by going on various service trips. I spent time in El Salvador learning about its history and in Poland, volunteering at an orphanage. Before medical school, I also spent a year with AmeriCorps working at St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center right here in Rochester, helping provide healthcare to those without insurance. I continued this commitment during my second year of medical school by co-managing the Lighthouse Free Clinic at the University at Buffalo.
I have always been drawn to family medicine so that I can provide care for people of all ages, as well as play an active role in my community. My additional interests in medicine include palliative care, addiction medicine, and healthcare policy. Outside of medicine, I enjoy spending time with my wife, Sandy, who is an elementary school teacher, and engaging in various nerdy activities, as alluded by my childhood hobbies. I enjoy anything science fiction related, table tennis, disc golf, fencing, and cooking. Also, my wife and I are big animal lovers. We have a cat named Gimli and hope to soon be adopting a puppy. Both of us are incredibly excited to be back in Rochester and begin a new chapter!
Alissa Correll, MD
University of Vermont Medical School
I spent my childhood in the small hill town of Conway in the pioneer valley of Massachusetts. There, I split my time between chasing cows and bothering the artists that populated father’s glassblowing studio while learning the craft myself. Though I haven’t been able to work with glass often during medical school, I still enjoy making marbles and (lumpy) mugs for my friends and family. It was also as a child in a rural arts town that I developed a deep appreciation of close community that is primary to the philosophy of family medicine, well as my interest in politics.
I completed my undergraduate degree at Mount Holyoke College studying both biological sciences and religious studies, then took a year off to work, travel and rest prior to medical school at the University of Vermont in Burlington. During my time in medical school I worked extensively on political advocacy projects with both state and national organizations involved in healthcare and health insurance reform as well as women’s health—pursuits that I hope to continue as much as possible during residency.
Outside of medicine I enjoy international travel, reading, group exercise, and music of any and all kinds. My newest goal for residency—outside of learning from my colleagues, attendings and patients—is to learn to cook! I’m thrilled for the new opportunities that Rochester will offer for me both personally and professionally, and am excited to make it my new home.
Jeffrey Geisendorfer, MD
State University of New York Upstate Medical University, Binghamton
Hey everyone! I grew up around Albany, New York, and was fortunate enough to be encouraged to do many things. I grew up playing multiple sports, but I seemed to stick with hockey, volleyball, frisbee, and basketball. I have played clarinet since the third grade and enjoy going to see live music. I also was able to get out and hike in the Adirondacks, visit many museums, go to Civil War Battlefields, pick apples/berries, and garden with my family. I continued these interests throughout my life and still enjoy them all today.
I went to undergrad at SUNY Geneseo (Go Knights!) where I majored in biology and kept my nose in a book for four years. I was also an EMT-Basic there, and did fun research on past tree populations in the Northeast and how their population densities changed due to climatic variation. I volunteered consistently in a local assisted living facility and with local elementary schools. After four short years I took a year off to catch my breath and unwind with friends and family. I somehow got into SUNY Upstate where I met many amazing people who are very important in my life today. While there I spent time volunteering in the refugee clinic and shadowing geriatricians in the area. I also was able to be apart the Integrative Medicine, Dermatology, and PM&R clubs at Upstate. Even though my campus was based in Syracuse, one-third of our class spent our third year in Binghamton. During this time, I had a longitudinal family medicine clerkship, where I got to help manage patients throughout the entire year, one half-day a week. I had a fantastic mentor, who I aspire to be more like everyday. Being around family physicians in Binghamton made me realize that family medicine was the area for me.
Luckily I was accepted to the University of Rochester, and will be at the Brown Square clinic. I am so excited to return to a part of the state that I only got a taste of during undergrad, Geneseo being just south of Rochester. The city has so much to offer and the people here at this program are amazing. When not doing medicine I can be found playing video games, watching wonderful television, playing my clarinet, attending live music, playing sports, playing board games, reading (not medicine related), hiking, lounging in the sun, playing with my new puppy (Penny is a cockapoo), and spending time with friends and family. I also love to go out for some food and/or good beer.
Zoe Gravitz, MD
University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
I’m thrilled to be spending three more years in the vibrant city of Rochester as a family medicine resident! I grew up in Maryland near DC. After receiving a degree in History at Oberlin College, I worked at an HIV/AIDS Clinic in Brooklyn, NY then a neuropsychiatry lab in Boston, before moving to Rochester for medical school.
Within family medicine my passions are reproductive health, pain management, mindfulness, and mental health. Growing up close by the political center of our country made me feel that I have an obligation to use my voice for change, which is why I’m so excited about gaining knowledge and experience through the PALT Pathway. My commitment to reproductive health started in high school when I interned at Planned Parenthood Global and has continued ever since. I have missed working as a Birth Doula and look forward to laboring with ladies and catching babies at Highland Hospital. During college I lived in Santiago, Chile for a semester and enjoy speaking Spanish every opportunity I get.
Outside of medicine I enjoy shopping at farmer’s markets, preparing creative vegetarian meals, practicing yoga and meditation, hiking, listening to podcasts, making and seeing live music, and spending time with family and friends.
Michael Hudson, MD
University of Vermont College of Medicine
I’m from all over eastern Massachusetts originally, and have had the great fortune to have lived in many places, from Spain to New York City. Looking at my CV, I’ve apparently spent the last nearly twenty years working in computer security, but I can’t possibly be old enough for that to be true, so hmm. I’ve always been interested in medicine, but when I started volunteering at a free clinic for the homeless, I found my passion and I found my true love in family medicine. Actually, that’s doubly true, since my wife Sarah Hudson is also a family doc!
Throughout med school, I found that I love everything in medicine, and my interests are diverse, from working with addicted homeless to researching the use of artificial intelligence in managing population health. I have also realized that one of the greatest impacts I can have on my patients’ lives is through policy and advocacy. To that end, Sarah and I founded Doctors for Social Justice, an organization that partners with and advocates for local groups to improve our patients’ social determinants of health. All this makes me very excited for the political advocacy track at Rochester.
Outside of medicine, I’m a dad to three kids, ages almost 5, just about 2 and barely one month. When I’m not playing with them, I’m usually in the kitchen (my favorite room in the house) or in the woodshop working on some crazy project or another (current project: bunk beds for the oldest two!)
Sumaiya Kabir, DO
Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
I was born and raised right here in Rochester, and I am happy to be returning to my hometown! I grew up in Fairport with one older brother, and after graduating from Fairport High School I moved not so far away to study biology at SUNY Geneseo. After four memorable years, I decided that after graduation I wanted to spend a year doing research, and so I had the opportunity to work as a laboratory technician at the Center for Musculoskeletal Research at Strong Memorial. During this time I was able to not only build my skills as a professional, but also to gain a better understanding of the importance of medical research in the advancement of patient care.
After I was accepted to LECOM, I moved to Erie for my first two years of medical school, during which I married my wonderful husband Bobby. We moved to Long Island and I completed my third year clinicals in Queens. Although I loved living in Long Island, Rochester has always drawn me right back, and by the end of that year my husband had accepted a position as a Family Physician for Thompson Health, and I was heading home once again! I am very excited to be staying right here to complete my residency training, and I am ready to give back to this wonderful community that has given me so much.
Timothy Smilnak, MD
SUNY Upstate Medical School
Hi! My name is Tim Smilnak. I grew up in Binghamton, NY, and went to college at the University of Scranton. There I discovered that learning is fun and that I had an interest in becoming a doctor and working in an underserved community. After college, I worked with FrancisCorps at a refugee resettlement program in Syracuse, NY. The next year, I lived at Casa de Esperanza de los Niño’s, a foster care community in Houston, TX.
I came back to Syracuse for medical school at SUNY Upstate. Some of the highlights were completing the MD/MPH program, working on a medical education research project, doing six months of clinical rotations in a rural town in northern NY, and my involvement in our school’s medical student mentoring/advising program.
I decided to become a family physician because I enjoy the challenge and variety of our work. Also, I feel that the specialty of family medicine will most nurture my desire to care for the underserved and my interests in health systems and policy. I’m excited to be coming to Rochester because there are people here who share my specific interests in family medicine, and I’m also very drawn to our biopsychosocial approach and the sense of community and enthusiasm for learning among the residents.
A few tidbits about me. I love hiking and camping, especially in our awesome national parks. I’m an avid and semi-aggressive fan of the Cleveland Indians baseball team. And I enjoy American history – two items on my bucket list are to read a biography of every U.S. president (6 down, 39 to go), and to go back to school for a bachelor’s degree in history
Shivani Sockanathan, MD
Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science
I was born in New Jersey and grew up with two very supportive parents, an older sister as a role model, and a large pseudo-family in the Sri Lankan community. I had the opportunity to travel internationally quite a bit from a young age, as I have family in all corners of the world. This really opened up my eyes to the disparities in healthcare, developing my interest in community service and medicine. I attended college at Tufts University in Boston, where I majored in Child Development and Biopsychology. During medical school in Chicago, I was involved in “Cooking Matters” through which I taught cooking and nutrition classes to children at a local boys and girls club. I also led an organization that conducted health screening clinics in surrounding low income communities, and I had the opportunity to provide screenings/healthcare in Cusco, Peru as well. These experiences solidified my interest in preventative medicine and led me to choose Family Medicine as a career. I know the residency program at Rochester will allow me to explore my interests within Family Medicine, specifically women’s health, OB, and global health. I’m very excited to be a part of the Rochester team and glad to be back on the east coast!
Apart from medicine, I love traveling and take any chance I get to explore new places! I also enjoy running- I had the opportunity to run the Boston Marathon during my senior year in college and also went on the run the Chicago Marathon during medical school. Although I may be done with marathons for now, I’m looking forward to discovering some running trails in Rochester!
Natasha Vadera, MD
New York Medical College
Hi everyone! I grew up in King of Prussia, PA (yes it is indeed a real place, and yes, it does in fact have the largest mall on the East Coast!). Since my parents are both from India, I traveled back often and lived with my aunt, a family physician there. Seeing her welcome patients to her home at any time of the day or night inspired my interests in the realm of primary care medicine.
For college, I attended Brandeis University and double majored in Biology and HSSP (Health, Science, Society & Policy). This interdisciplinary focus taught me how to address the underlying socioeconomic issues that contribute to a patient’s health status. At Brandeis, I worked in a variety of free clinics and developed a global health internship at an HIV/AIDS NGO in a North Indian village. I also started an undergraduate South Asian Dance Team, and spent a summer traveling with a dance company to perform and tour internationally.
I took two years off after graduating to work as a clinical research associate, and then came to New York Medical College in Westchester, NY. The ability to work with a wide range of patient populations, to further explore global health, and to pursue a career filled with so much versatility and creativity drew me to Family Medicine. I was also recently certified to teach Bolly-X, essentially Bollywood Zumba, and I’m so excited to start classes here at Rochester! I’m also thrilled that I was able to come to Rochester with some of my closest friends from medical school, and to now be engaged to my best friend, Nayan Patel, who’s starting as an Internal Medicine intern!
Class Of 2021
We the class of 2021 promise to provide compassionate, collaborative, patient-centered care without bias. We will be advocates for our patients and our communities. In the spirit of Meliora, we will humbly strive for excellence with integrity as physicians, learners, and educators in all that we do.
Dominick DeFelice, MD
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine
I was born in a strange, wild, confusing place called Long Island, New York and spent most of my childhood there rooting on the Mets (with no success). When I was eleven years old, myself, my parents, younger sister, grandma, and the family cat Jason moved to eastern North Carolina where I remained through high school (still rooting for the Mets, still no success). It was at the end of high school that I first had professional contact with health care. I spent my last semester before graduation shadowing doctors, nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists, dieticians, and other healthcare professionals in a community hospital setting. On a whim I applied to The University of North Carolina at Greensboro for college and was awarded a full-ride scholarship. In four years I completed my degree in Human Biology, minored in Chemistry and Spanish, traveled abroad, published two papers on honey bees (ask me about bees anytime), worked two summers as a Nurse’s Aide, and had absolutely no social life to speak of.
I went straight from undergrad to medical school, and was lucky to go to a great institution: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. I always had an interest in primary care and wanted to reach the patients with the lowest access to healthcare. Those interests led me to take a four year medical Spanish class in which I helped treat and education Spanish-speaking patients in central NC and do three weeks of medical volunteer work in rural India seeing patients of all ages with all sorts of medical complaints. The seed of my passion for family medicine was planted during that last semester in high school, but it grew during my experiences in medical school. I am thrilled to join the one profession that sees, diagnoses, and treats e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g!!. Rochester, NY, welcome to Dominick DeFelice.
Rachel Ellenbogen, MD
The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University
Hello! I grew up initially in Silver Spring, Maryland and then spent the rest of my formative years Seattle, WA. While in Seattle, I took advantage of the easy access to the water and learned to row, a sport that I pursued through college. I attended Brown University where I studied Psychology and was a member of the Women’s Crew team.
After college, I moved back to the D.C. area where I did neuroscience research at the NIH. While in D.C., I volunteered with a community health clinic running a childhood obesity prevention program. There, I fell in love with primary care when I saw the power of family and community level interventions for promoting health, prevention, and treating illness. After a quick year in Seattle, I headed back to Providence, RI to start medical school. That is where I met my significant other, Patrick Kelley, also a family medicine resident! While in medical school, I taught Sex Ed at a local school, volunteered in a free clinic, and helped run a preclinical elective aimed at teaching medical students about pregnancy and patient advocacy. I found a home in Family Medicine where my interest in mental health, women’s health, education, and primary care came together.
When I am not working, I enjoy cooking, traveling, and hiking with Patrick. I am hoping to start rowing again and I look forward to testing out the Genesee River! I am excited for the opportunity to train at the University of Rochester Family Medicine and explore Upstate NY!
Derrick German, MD
University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
My family is from the Dominican Republic, but I was born and raised in the Bronx, NY. I attended Union College where I majored in Biology and had the opportunity to be involved in hospice care, Alzheimer’s Research in Palermo, Italy, and lead the Latino Medical School Association. Upon graduating in 2008, I worked as a Session Assistant at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer in NYC. I attend medical school at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and absolutely love it here. I explored many of my professional interests and ultimately found that my future lies in primary care and family medicine. My professional interest includes underserved care, palliative medicine, and geriatrics.
Outside of medicine, I can be found exploring the local cuisine, hitting the gym, or taking my dogs for a walk. My fiancé Kenia, also an incoming family medicine resident, and I are thrilled to have the opportunity to continue my training and building our lives here in Rochester!
Michael Ialeggio, MD
Robert Larner, M.D., College of Medicine at the University of Vermont
I’m originally from Long Island, but moved to Vermont when I was 13. For college, I went on to Oberlin, OH, where I studied economics and politics and played a good deal of jazz saxophone. Out of school, I worked for several years with UNITE HERE, a service workers union, in Chicago. I spent the next several years doing seasonal outdoorsy work- as a backcountry ranger in New Mexico, on the Long Trail in Vermont with the Green Mountain Club, as an intern on a vegetable farm, selling Christmas trees in Harlem. I moved to Burlington, Vermont, for a Post Bacc program, worked at psychiatric crisis center, drove taxi, and finally landed in medical school at the University of Vermont. I’m interested in rural full spectrum practice, but for the time being, am very excited to be coming to a small city with its attendant diversities- of people, languages, food, and things to do- and a great big lake to sail on.
Patrick Kelley, MD
The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University
Hello! I was born and raised in beautiful Lancaster County, PA eating plenty of saffron and shoo-fly pie. Headed for the mountains, I made my way across the state for college at Penn State (Go Nittany Lions)! While studying psychology, I did research on the effects of concussion on college athletes. I gained a strong interest in the study of the brain and behavior--especially the way in which mental health influences physical health.
After graduating, I headed to the Ocean State for a job researching new tests and therapies for older adults with Alzheimer’s and other memory disorders. Rhode Island became a wonderful new home. I loved having the ocean close by as I found new hiking trails and learned to ski for the first time--and became hooked. I ended up being lucky enough to stay in Rhode Island for medical school where I met my partner, Rachel, who will be joining me on the journey through family medicine residency!
In my free time, I like to explore hiking trails with Rachel, ski, cook, bake Pennsylvania Dutch treats that remind me of home, and play around on the piano. I am thrilled to be training in a place that values my strong interests in behavioral health and the care of diverse populations at home and internationally. With some family roots in upstate NY, I am excited to get to know the Rochester community and explore the gorgeous countryside!
Colleen Kilbourne, MD
Albany Medical College
Hello! I was born in the small town of Dansville, NY, about an hour south of Rochester, and grew up a few miles further down the road in the even smaller town of Wayland, NY! I am the daughter of a small business owner and a school librarian and I have two older brothers. I adore my supportive, strong, and loyal community but traveled to the Capital District to pursue my dream of becoming a Family Medicine Physician. I attended the Emma Willard School in Troy, NY for high school and was later accepted into the Leadership in Medicine program at Union College in Schenectady, NY. In this combined undergraduate and graduate program, I received my BS in Biology and English and my MS in Healthcare Administration. I then attended Albany Medical College where my passion for Family Medicine continued to grow.
I am so excited to be back home training with the University of Rochester, an organization that I have aspired to be a part of for as long as I can remember. My passions within Family Medicine include rural and underserved populations, mental health, addiction medicine, and women’s health. Outside of medicine, I enjoy spending time with my fiancé, Matt, and our families and friends. I love to run (Rochester’s Flower City Half-Marathon is my favorite race) and I am always looking for a running buddy! I also try to take advantage of every season we experience in Western NY and love to downhill ski, water ski, and relax on the Finger Lakes.
Lauren Perlis, MD
University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
I was born in Boston and grew up in Cleveland. In high school, my interest in science grew through a partnership between my school and Case Western Reserve University that allowed me to conduct circadian rhythm research. I enjoyed the research but knew that I wanted to work more closely with people and communities. This realization led me to start considering a career in medicine. I attended Williams College in northwestern Massachusetts where I completed my pre-med requirements and majored in Biology and Environmental Chemistry. I also competed in cross country, swimming, and track for college and triathlon for the United States Under 23 National Team.
Throughout my life, I have had an interest in teaching and have worked with students of many ages ranging from middle school to young adult. After college, I spent two years working with high school students. My most meaningful experiences were teaching units on nutrition and reproduction/contraception. I enjoyed having the opportunity to help students learn how to live a safer and more healthy lifestyle. My interests in science, teaching, and community health ultimately led me to medical school at the University of Rochester. In medical school, I was drawn to Family Medicine because of the opportunity to work with patients of all ages and the emphasis on preventive medicine. I am looking forward to staying in Rochester for residency and am especially looking forward to learning more about practice management through the P2 Program. Outside of medicine I enjoy spending time with my husband and daughter, playing sports, running, and exploring local museums.
Mary Powers, MD
State University of New York Upstate Medical University
I grew up in Marcellus, NY, just outside of Syracuse, NY. My parents run an experiential learning center that uses a ropes course and equine therapy to promote team building and leadership development, particularly for underserved youth. I went to Cornell University where I majored in Human Biology, Health and Society, minored in Inequality Studies, and coordinated a mentoring program for local at-risk youth. After graduating, I moved to a reservation in South Dakota to teach high school math through Teach for America. I returned to Central New York to attend medical school at SUNY Upstate Medical University.
I am very happy to be in Rochester for my training in Family Medicine! I have many interests within Family Medicine that are heavily influenced by what I've learned from working alongside my parents and students. I am especially interested in working alongside underserved populations, rural health, adolescent medicine and the role of school-based clinics, and women's health. Outside of medicine, I love spending time with my husband and son, as well as our two dogs and cat. I really enjoy being outside, whether it's running, hiking, biking, cross country skiing, horseback riding, or something else!
Matthew Rivera-Bloodworth, MD
Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University
I grew up in Echols County (population 4057), a poor rural county in South Georgia with the nearest hospital and physicians 20 miles away. I graduated valedictorian of a class of 55 students from the only school in our county. Our school housed pre-K through 12th grade on one campus with 750 students, 60% of whom lived in poverty. My career in education and working with underserved persons began at my high school where I tutored students from migrant farmworker families which included over one quarter of our student body. The students’ failure rate fell from 20% to 5% in one year. As the great-grandson of undocumented Mexican immigrants who came to find work on the railroads outside Houston, I feel a connection with and call to serve Latinos and other minorities. I prepared for medical school at Valdosta State University, a medium-sized liberal arts school in South Georgia where I earned a Bachelor of Science in biology summa cum laude with a minor in religious studies. There I led campus-wide spiritual formation groups and worked in medical outreach with migrant farmworkers and medical missions in Ecuador and Haiti.
I earned my Doctor of Medicine from the Medical College of Georgia where I worked extensively as a coordinator and mentor for other students at the free, student-run Clínica Latina for low-income and uninsured Latinos and other persons. I served for three years as a member of the board of directors and eventually vice president of the Asociación Latina de Servicios del CSRA (ALAS), a 501(c)(3) non-profit improving the health of Latinos and other underserved minorities in Georgia and South Carolina. I also devoted significant time developing instructional skills as a peer mentor in basic and clinical sciences and teaching assistant for first- and second-year physical diagnosis. I developed and taught a 4-week health disparities curriculum to matriculating medical students and undergraduates and delivered lectures on complementary health approaches to three cohorts of first-year students. I wrote and coordinated the delivery of a 4-week problem-based learning case with an emphasis on the biopsychosocial approach. Along with faculty and colleagues, I created a longitudinal first-year professionalism curriculum which has been presented and offered as a workshop at two international conferences and is being prepared for publication.
During medical school, I furthered my religious education with the Church Divinity School of the Pacific to be better prepared to compassionately and holistically address my patients’ health, including spiritual and cultural needs. I hope to transfer to the Master of Divinity program at the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School to journey along the path of ordination to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church. I feel called to work with interfaith groups to promote justice and engage in community outreach, including poverty reduction. Prophet Mohammed (Peace be Upon Him) is attributed to have said, “Science is twofold—theology and medicine.” Spiritual leaders have contributed to the formation of the medical profession throughout history, and I am committed to continuing this tradition for the wellbeing of my patients from all faiths and those of no faith. I look forward to growing my passions for service, education, and holistic care at the University of Rochester Family Medicine program.
Alison Schuppert, MD
University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
I was born and raised in the small town of Corning, NY where I spent my childhood roaming the Museum of Glass, playing tennis, and snuggling with our two family rescue dogs. After high school, I attended the University of Richmond where I studied biology and the medical humanities. Following college, I returned to upstate NY for medical school at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. I am delighted to be spending another three years in this city as a family medicine resident!
During medical school, I worked as a clinic coordinator for UR Well at St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center, a program committed to providing health care services to the underserved. I hope to expand on this work in residency and advocate for improved health care access in our community. My other passions include obstetrics and women’s health. In my free time, I enjoy exploring the Finger Lakes, cheering on the Penn State football team, improving my cooking skills, and spending time with friends and family.
Kristina Shikula, MD
University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
I was born in Belarus in a city called Pinsk on the banks of the Pina River. With my father and my mother, I immigrated to the United States and settled in Utica, NY when I was almost four years old. Soon after my sister was born, we moved to Schuyler, NY, where I enjoyed incredible winters and relaxing summers. Aside from exploring the outdoors, I spent time playing the piano and violin through high school, and continued Russian Folk Dancing in college. While studying biology at Utica College, I volunteered at the Emergency Department of St. Luke’s Hospital, where I learned the importance of caring about others and solidified my desire to become a physician.
I was excited to start medical school at the University of Rochester, as this was the home of the biopsychosocial model, where delivery of care focused on the patient as a whole and not solely on diagnoses. Involvement with the Family Medicine Interest Group and my Primary Care Clerkship during second year of medical school solidified my aspiration to become a physician of Family Medicine as I explored the field with greater depth. During medical school, I enjoyed volunteering, particularly tutoring students from area schools. Education is a gift that others give to us, and if we can pass it on, we are not only helping others, but impacting the future. I am excited and honored to continue my medical training here in Rochester as a resident physician. Outside of medicine, I enjoy traveling with my husband, trying new recipes, spending time with family and friends, reading, embroidery, and exploring nature.
Kenia Valdez, MD
University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
I was born in Brownsville Texas but was raised in the Bronx. My family is from Nicaragua and I am the oldest of 4 girls. I have a sister who is disabled and caring for her is what initially sparked my interest in medicine. I attended Union College in Schenectady NY where I majored in Biology and minored in Classics. During college I participated in many activities such as working in the migrant camps and free health clinics which exposed me to working with underserved populations. After college I worked for two years at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in an administrative role. I then attended the University of Rochester School of Medicine where I fell in love with the city of Rochester and its exceptional health care. I am very happy to be staying here to complete my training.
Within family medicine my interest are women's health and mental health. I have witnessed the great need that exist for access to behavioral health services and I plan to provide as much of those services as I can. I also loved my OBGYN rotation and am planning to incorporate OB as part of my practice. I enjoy mentoring young students and enjoy educating my patients.
Outside of medicine my hobbies include learning to play the piano, embroidery, candle carving, spending time with family, tutoring my sister, playing with my dogs, watching movies, swimming, and exploring new places to eat.