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Our Residents

Stephen Sandwell, MD

Stephen Sandwell

Steve Sandwell is a PGY7 resident in neurosurgery. He attended medical school at the University of Louisville ('11). He graduated from UC Davis with his BS in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior ('99). He also completed Physician Assistant training at Alderson-Broaddus College ('02), and worked as a Neurosurgery PA for several years. His sub-specialty interests are in General Neurosurgery, Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery, and Pain. His research interests are in facial pain and CSF related disorders. His hometown is Fairfield, California. He enjoys water polo, fly fishing, swimming, and travel.

Katarzyna Czerniecka-Foxx, MD

Katarzyna Czerniecka

Katarzyna Czerniecka is a PGY6 resident in neurosurgery. Kate attended Medical School of Jagiellonian University, in Krakow, Poland.  During her medical education, she undertook elective rotations in neurosurgery and plastic surgery at Hopital de Hautepierre in Strasbourg, Hopital Rothschild in Paris, and at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY. She has participated in various research projects on pain science, and traumatic brain injury. Her clinical subspecialty interests include spinal and general neurosurgery. Her hometown is Jaroslaw, Poland. In her free time, she enjoys travelling, working out, and reading about the latest science and technology trends.

Kenneth Foxx, MD

Kenneth Foxx

Kenneth Foxx is a PGY6 resident in neurosurgery. He attended the University of Rochester and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a bachelor of science in Biomedical Engineering and a minor of Chemical Engineering. There he was elected to the Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society as a junior and to Phi Beta Kappa as a senior. He went on to graduate from the New York University School of Medicine, where he was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society. His professional interests include spinal and general neurosurgery. In his free time, He enjoys running, biking, snow skiing, water skiing, and spending time with friends and family.

Vanessa C. Milano, MD

Vanessa Milano

Vanessa C. Milano is a PGY5 resident in neurosurgery. She attended medical school at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and graduated with academic honors in 2009. She was elected to AOA in her junior year, received the Aust Award in recognition of outstanding performance in the Department of Surgery, and was awarded a scholarship from School of Medicine alumni for overall excellence in service to the community, research, and clinical work. While in medical school, Vanessa was actively involved in her regional Neuroscience Society and she tutored junior medical students in neuroscience. She has also performed community work and disaster relief in Nicaraguan and Texas border communities. Prior to medical school, Vanessa attended the University of Notre Dame and completed a curriculum with concentrations in biological sciences and Russian language. Her research at the MD Anderson Cancer Center has focused on molecularly directed therapy in glioblastoma multiforme, and she hopes to continue similar work in the future. Clinically, Vanessa is interested in neurosurgical oncology and neurotrauma. Outside the hospital, Vanessa can be found baking delicious treats, biking or rowing on the canal, playing the violin, or throwing knives in the wilderness. Her hometown is The Woodlands, Texas.

Tyler M. Schmidt, DO

Tyler Schmidt

Tyler M. Schmidt is a PGY5 resident in neurosurgery. He attended medical school at Lake Erie COM and graduated as the academic leader in 2013. He was elected to Sigma Sigma Phi Academic Honors Fraternity as a first ballot selection. Tyler completed his undergraduate studies at Pennsylvania State University and graduated summa cum laude in 2010 with a bachelor of science in biology. He is developing his interests in neurosurgery and research. His hometown is Hometown, PA. In his spare time he enjoys spending time outdoors, working out, reading, hunting, and swimming.

Clifford Pierre, MD

Clifford Pierre

Clifford Pierre is a PGY4 resident in neurosurgery. He attended medical school at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. He was inducted to the Gold Humanism Honor Society. While in medical school, Cliff served as Co-liaison of the Neurosurgery Focus Group. Cliff was active in community outreach and mentorship of underserved minority populations. He co-founded the Minority Male Leadership Association (MMLA) an affinity group focused on advancing achievements of men of color in Rochester, NY. He also founded the annual premedical conference hosted by the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) which exposes hundreds of high school and college students in the region to careers in the health professions. Cliff also engaged in neuroscience research in the laboratory of Dr. Maiken Nedergaard studying cerebrospinal fluid hydrodynamics as it relates to hydrocephalus. His clinical and research interests are in neurotrauma and pediatric neurosurgery. His hometown is Brooklyn, New York. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, dancing, and playing basketball.

James Towner, MD

James Towner

James Towner is a PGY4 resident in neurosurgery. He is from Madison, Alabama and attended medical school at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine in Mobile, AL. During his medical school career, he was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honors Society and elected into the Gold Humanism Honors Society by his peers. He was also awarded both the American Academy of Neurology Medical Student Prize for Excellence as well as the Donna B. Ledet Memorial Scholarship. Prior to entering medical school, James graduated cum laude from the University of Alabama with a bachelor degree in chemical engineering and minor in chemistry, having completed two research internships at NASA. His interests in neurosurgery include traumatic brain injury and neurocritical care. In his free time, he enjoys collecting and listening to jazz and rock & roll records, reading, watching Crimson Tide football and spending time with his wife, Mary, and their dogs, Franklin & Elly.

Audrey Paulzak, MD

Audrey Paulzak

Audrey Paulzak is a PGY3 resident in neurosurgery. She was born and raised in the Florida panhandle, and attended medical school at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, AL. During her medical school career she was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honors Society and the Association of Pathology Chairs Honor Society. She also presented abstracts on neurotrauma clinical research at AANS and ACS national meetings. Before attending medical school, she graduated with a degree in Biophysics from the University of South Alabama at Birmingham, where she participated in medical nanoparticle research that included a summer funded by the National Science Foundation conducting research in Poland and the Czech Republic. In her free time she enjoys spoiling her three dogs, remodeling her Rochester home, playing the piano, traveling, and tackling a garage full of Pinterest projects. 

Thomas Pieters, MD

Thomas Pieters

Thomas Pieters is a PGY3 resident in neurosurgery. He was born and raised here in Rochester, New York and attended The Pennsylvania State University for his undergraduate studies where he received a degree in Psychology with a focus in neuroscience. He attended medical school at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. During his medical school career he was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honors Society. While there, he studied language and general cognitive functioning through cortical stimulation mapping, fMRI and electrocorticography. He also spent time involved in international medical outreach, working in hospitals in both Panama and China. His neurosurgical interests are in both epilepsy and pediatric surgery. In his free time, he enjoys going to the park with his dog, traveling, and spending time with family.

Redi Rahmani, MD

Redi Rahmani

Redi Rahmani is a PGY2 resident in neurosurgery. He attended medical school at Dartmouth College and graduated in 2016. While there he published on outcomes-based research in neurosurgery. He started and led the AANS medical student chapter at Dartmouth. He also completed a research internship with Dr. Theodore Schwartz focusing on calcium dye imaging of the rat cortex during seizure propagation. Prior to medical school he attended Cornell University and graduated cum laude in 2012 with a degree in neurobiology. His research in college studied heat induced seizures in fruit flies with defective sodium channels. He also worked part-time/full-time as an EMT and Paramedic. Redi grew up in New York City after emigrating from Albania when he was 6 years old. He has a broad interest in neurosurgery. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, and reading.

David A. Paul, MD

David Paul

David A. Paul is a PGY2 resident in neurosurgery. He attended medical school at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, where he also earned a M.S. in Neurobiology and Anatomy.  While in medical school, David studied visual plasticity in pituitary tumor patients, working in the laboratory of Dr. Bradford Mahon. Outside the laboratory, he was engaged in community service and was a co-founding member of the Minority Male Leadership Association. He is the 2015 recipient of the William and Charlotte Cadbury Award, a national award presented to one medical student in the nation for academic excellence, community service, and leadership. He attended undergrad, at Hope College, in Holland, MI, where he was elected Student Body President, and now serves as a member of their Board of Trustees. His hometown is Grand Rapids, MI. In his free time, he enjoys hanging out with his wife, and their dog, travelling, and spending time outdoors.​

Rahim Ismail, MD

Rahim IsmailRahim Ismail is a PGY1 resident in neurosurgery. He attended medical school at University of Central Florida and graduated in 2017. During his time in medical school, he published and submitted numerous abstracts on outcomes from stereotactic radiosurgery on metastatic lesions to the brain. Additionally, Rahim was the first research coordinator of UCF's student run free clinic, for which he was able to publish and submit abstracts on outcomes of the effect of volunteerism and medical student performance. During his time in medical school, he co-founded Lake Nona's first student run interprofessional healthcare organization, InterPro, resulting in curriculum development between multiple schools and conferences that brought together multiple health care related professional students throughout the state. Prior to medical school he volunteered with AmeriCorp through CityYear and worked in underserved schools in Miami, Florida. He attended the University of Florida and graduated cum laude in 2011 with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies (focus in Neurobiological Sciences). His research in college studied movement disorders in children with autism.

Catherine Wassef, MD

Catherine WassefCatherine Wassef is a PGY-1 resident in neurosurgery. She studied Human Biology, Health, and Society at Cornell  University and was one of the founding members of the Dial of Ahaz Society. She received a USDA Hatch fund grant to research neural correlates of the fuzzy trace theory with neuroimaging in the Lab for Rational Decision Making. She graduated with honors in 2012 after completing her thesis on voxel based morphometry and personality traits. Catherine then studied at Temple’s St. Luke’s Program for medicine, where she volunteered at the Kenderton elementary school, volunteered with the Global Medical Brigades in Honduras, cofounded the pediatric interest group and helped publish on spinal cord stimulator infection rates. She finds all fields of neurosurgery interesting, and skull base surgery the most challenging. Her hometown is East Windsor, NJ. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, religious studies, movies, musicals, and road trips.