Elissa Engel, MD
I was born and raised in a small suburban town in northern New Jersey. I received my Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from the University of Delaware and then took a giant leap of faith moving to Florida to attend medical school at UCF. I loved my new life in Florida so much that I decided to stay to complete residency at the University of South Florida. During my residency training I had the opportunity to participate in a number of research endeavors, particularly in the field of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, including investigations in thrombosis, sickle cell disease, and oncology. The individual mentorship I've received at USF has been invaluable in my personal and career pursuits and I am fortunate to be so well supported as I apply for a fellowship in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology. I chose to stay for an additional year as Chief Resident so that I could continue to be an advocate for our residents and further advance our program. I hope you are considering USF for your residency training and I look forward to sharing all that I love about our program and Tampa Bay!
Alexandra Howard, DO
Being from a military family, I’m from a little bit of everywhere. I spent most of my childhood living overseas. After returning to the US, my family settled in Jacksonville, FL. I attended Emory University for undergrad, majoring in Neuroscience and English. I went on to earn my MPH from the University of North Florida, then I left the south and moved up to Chicago for medical school at CCOM. After four long, cold winters away from family, I was more than ready to return to sunshiny Florida! During my residency training, I felt so fortunate to be a part of the USF family. I was afforded many opportunities in research, QI, mentorship and diverse clinical training, which led me down the path of Pediatric Hospital Medicine. I chose to stay as Chief Resident to give back to this program that has helped me grow into a confident and prepared pediatrician. I’m excited that you’re considering USF Pediatrics and I am looking forward to meeting you!
Shaara Ago, MD
Originally from the Space Coast of Florida, I have spent the last 10 years in the Tampa area attending USF for undergrad, Master's, and Medical School. In my time here, I have come to appreciate all that Tampa has to offer, and enjoy spending any free time exploring the area's great restaurants, parks, baseball team, and beaches. I also love to travel and have visited over 20 countries so far. Professionally, I am interested in primary care and addressing health disparities in our community. I am thrilled to be staying at USF to round out my training in pediatrics!
Ashmit Bhatt, DO
Born in Kathmandu, Nepal, I was raised abroad for five years before making my way to Florida. My family eventually proclaimed Naples, FL as our new home and I grew up being spoiled by the beautiful weather along the Gulf of Mexico. I attended the University of Florida for 4 amazing years and then LECOM in Bradenton for my medical education. I am thrilled to continue life on the Gulf for the next 3 years! I was drawn into pediatrics because I've always loved working with kids and the excitement they bring. Outside of my professional goals, I enjoy being outdoors and anything involving food. My hobbies include passionately rooting for Florida Gator sports, running, paddle boarding, cooking and seeking a good cup of coffee. I look forward to completing my residency training at USF and fulfilling my lifelong goal as a pediatrician!
Melanie Bradley, DO
I was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. I attended University of North Florida for undergrad and then medical school at PCOM in Atlanta, Georgia. I love traveling, cooking and going to theme parks! My favorite is Magic Kingdom. During my free time I enjoy spending time with family and my husband and our dog Lilly who is the most adorable Chihuahua ever! After residency I would like to pursue a fellowship in pediatric hematology oncology.
Mandy Brasher, MD
I grew up as one of three daughters working on my family's cattle ranch in rural Idaho. My sense of adventure took me to New Hampshire to attend Dartmouth College for a biology degree and a minor in Japanese language and literature (Japan will always be my favorite vacation destination!). After so many cold winters, I thought I'd try the milder horse country at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, living with my older sister who was already at UK for dentistry. I still got snowed out in 3 of the 4 winters, so I'm counting on Tampa to thaw me out. I'm very excited to train at USF and work with my great new colleagues! A warm, friendly and constructive environment was the most important factor in choosing my residency. Outside of medicine, I enjoy nature walks, musicals, volleyball, and board games. I'm looking forward to a great three years of growth!
Michaela Churilla, MD
I was born in Clearwater and raised in St. Petersburg. I left the Tampa Bay area to study biology and chemistry at the University of Florida. Like any good Gator, I quickly learned that football is one of the pillars of a well-rounded education. I had the fortune of attending every game as part of the marching band, an organization that was the core of my fondest undergraduate memories. I even had the honor of being selected drum major during my final years. Following graduation, I worked for several years in the healthcare field. Following my hiatus in Gainesville, I returned home to attend medical school at the University of South Florida - now with husband in tow. During my professional studies we had a son and, subsequently, a daughter. I love being a mother and look forward to being a care-giver not only for my two babies, Brandon and Bentley, but also for the many children needing a medical professional with a compassionate touch.
Lisa Dinh, MD
I am a first generation Vietnamese-American born in California but raised a Georgia peach. I majored in biochemistry at the Georgia Institute of Technology (GO YELLOW JACKETS!) before completing medical school at USF MCOM (GO BULLS!). Since moving, I have fully acclimated to Florida weather. Anything below 70 degrees warrants a coat. My bucket list includes visiting every U.S. national park (and collecting stamps for my national parks passport!). I love musicals, which is why I love Disney movies (and I love all things Disney in general). I am a proud rescue hermit crab owner. His name is Sheldon and I adopted him while on the interview trail. , I love it here in Tampa with USF Pediatrics!
Sara Garcia, MD
Born and raised in Medellin, Colombia, I moved to Tampa, FL when I was 10 years old. I attended the University of South Florida for both my undergraduate and medical school education and now I am part of the USF Pediatrics Residency family! My medical interests include global health, medical missions and gastroenterology (although I plan to keep my mind open). In addition to children, I am absolutely in love with animals and as such, I’m a proud parent of Frankie and Nala (my dog and cat). I love to spend time with family, exercise, eat and travel!!
Matthew Gates, MD
I was born and raised in the Midwest, but moved to Tampa for high school and have been a Floridian ever since. I completed my undergraduate studies at the University of South Florida before moving to Miami for medical school at FIU Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. I have always wanted to be a pediatrician and I am so excited to be coming back home to Tampa to complete my pediatrics residency at USF! On a more personal note, I met my wife while we were both freshman in the USF Herd of Thunder marching band, and we recently got married in May of 2016. We are both very much dog people, and our dog Maisy is our life. I am also the oldest of four siblings and I'm very close to my family, so it's great to be able to come back to Tampa and be closer to them. I love music, movies, and sports, particularly the Rays, Lightning, and USF Bulls. I am so grateful to have this amazing opportunity to train in pediatrics in my beautiful hometown of Tampa!
MaryBeth Melvin, MD
I am a life-long Floridian, born and raised in a small town in the Florida Panhandle. I obtained my bachelor's degree in Nutrition from the University of Florida (Go Gators!) and was fortunate to have remained at UF for medical school. Following my first year of medical school, I married my awesome husband, who is a civil engineer. I love going to as many Gator sporting events as possible, cooking with my husband, watching Netflix, home DIY projects, and learning to play tennis. I also enjoy spending time with family, friends, and my church group, especially on the water! I am interested in general pediatrics and am looking forward to moving to Tampa soon!
Ryan Reynolds, MD
My name is Ryan Reynolds and I have been a Louisiana native my entire life. I grew up in New Orleans and then moved to Baton Rouge where I attended Louisiana State University. I received an undergraduate degree in Biology and minors in both Chemistry and Business. After finishing my undergraduate education in Baton Rouge, I decided to move back home for medical school at LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans. When I'm not busy staring in movies, I enjoy playing tennis, being active, and attending the many different festivals and cultural celebrations New Orleans has to offer. Florida has always been a special place to me having been multiple times with family and friends. During my interview day, I was impressed with friendliness of the staff and the beauty and diversity Tampa and St. Pete’s. I am excited to become a part of the USF Pediatric family and to call Tampa my new home!
Summer Rye-Buckingham, MD
Hey ya’ll! I was born and raised in Titusville, Florida, and grew up with the opportunity to see many shuttle launches. I went to USF for undergrad and then to the University of Central Florida for medical school. I’m so excited to be back in Tampa for residency! Go Bulls (I’m sorry, Knights)! I chose Pediatrics because of the amazing opportunity to impact a child’s future and to establish a long-term relationship with them as a patient. My professional interests include Cardiology and Hematology/Oncology, as well as global health trips.
As a native Floridian, I absolutely love the sunshine and the beach! I also enjoy playing volleyball, spending time with my friends and family, playing escape games, and line dancing. I also love going to Universal any chance I get. I’m so happy to join the USF family and look forward to what the next three years bring!
Monica Shah, DO
I was born in New Jersey and moved to Tampa Bay when I was only months old. I loved growing up in Tampa, but I wanted to explore the other side of Florida so I attended Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale for both my undergraduate and medical school education. Life in South Florida was amazing but I always knew I was going to come back home. In my free time, I love being outdoors including anything from biking to swimming to having picnics in my backyard in this all year long beautiful weather! I have to admit I am a bit of a foodie and have been spoiled by the fantastic restaurants Tampa has to offer.
The decision to pursue Pediatrics was easy for me. Being a camp counselor for too many summers to count, I was able to see the joy kids brought to the world. Pediatrics combines two of my passions: medicine and helping children. What could possibly be better than that! I am so thrilled and proud to be a USF Pediatric Resident.
Vanessa Bray, MD
I’m a born and raised Florida girl from West Palm Beach, Florida. I attended Vanderbilt University for undergrad where I majored in Biological Sciences and Medicine, Health, and Society. While at Vandy I was a member of the Vanderbilt Cheerleading team and cheered for both football and basketball (Go Dores!). Although I loved Nashville, I decided to return to sunny Florida to attend the USF Morsani College of Medicine and to be closer to family. I loved Tampa and my USF family so much that I decided to stay for residency! My interests include neonatology and medical humanities. Outside of medicine I enjoy live music, trying new restaurants, cold brew coffee, scrapbooking, going to the beach, wine tastings, weekends full of college and professional football, attending Lightning hockey games, and paddle boarding! I’m thrilled to be a part of the USF Pediatric Residency family and to practice medicine in beautiful Tampa for the next three years!
Markus Buchfellner, MD
I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. After completing my undergrad at Youngstown State University and then medical school at Northeast Ohio Medical University, I realized I needed a change of scenery – one that was far away from the long and snowy winters of the Midwest. I choose pediatrics because it is incredibly rewarding to witness a child bounce back from illness and grow into a strong, healthy adult. My career goals after residency include a fellowship in Cardiology and academic medicine. In my free time, I enjoy computer and board games, musical theater, reading, and rooting for all Cleveland sports teams. Since moving, I have fallen in love with the people, the culture and the beaches of the Tampa Bay area. I am looking forward to 3 great years with USF!
Brandy Compton, MD
Hi guys! I was born in Brandon, FL and grew up in Zephyrhills, FL. I am a third generation gator, born bleeding orange and blue, so naturally I completed my undergrad degree at the University of Florida. The adventure continued when I moved to Miami, FL where I earned my MD from the FIU Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. Then my dreams came true when I matched USF Pediatrics!!! I am super close with my family with the cutest two-year-old niece ever and a proud cat mom. I love to go to the beach, exercise, and enjoy the FL sunshine any way that I can. I am so excited to be part of the USF family and start my career in Pediatrics close to home. Looking forward to the next three years!
Alicia Drees, MD
Hi! I was born in Milledgeville, GA, but moved to Tampa when I was 6. I left Tampa for undergrad at Florida State University (Go Noles). Then moved for medical school, 2 years in Grenada and 2 years in Brooklyn, NY. It has been a wild adventure, but I am so happy that my husband and I are moving back to Tampa. I grew up always knowing I wanted to be a Pediatrician and am so honored to be able to come home to the community that made me fall in love with the field. In my future, I see myself pursuing a fellowship in gastroenterology. During my free time, I love being outdoors soaking up the sun, watching college football, and spending time with my husband and our pup Stemi. We love exploring with friends and look forward to exploring all the new areas of Tampa and St. Pete.
Yvette Gonzalez, DO
Hello everyone! I am a first generation Cuban-American, born and raised in Miami, FL. I received my major in Biology and a minor in Chemistry at Florida International University. After finishing my undergraduate studies, I decided to move to New Jersey and complete my medical school education at Rowan University. Although I had an amazing experience living in the north east, I am very excited to be coming back down to the sunshine weather of Tampa and joining the pediatric team at USF. On my time off, I enjoy relaxing with family and friends. I love attending different kinds of music and cultural festivals. Of course, the beach and salt life are a huge part of me and I’m so happy I get to live by the water again! I’m looking forward to continue developing my pediatric knowledge and pursue my future as an advocate for children. I am thrilled to call USF and Tampa my new home!"
Michelle Hojnicki, DO
Hi everyone! I am now a South Floridian, but grew up living in Chicago, Dallas and then moved to Prague, Czech Republic and Mexico City, Mexico. I received my bachelors at the University of Illinois and went to Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine for medical school. I am so excited to be staying in the sunshine and become part of the USF Peds family and being close to my fiancé who will be starting residency in the area! My interests within pediatrics include newborn baby care and the neonatal ICU. In my free time I love spending time with family, going to the beach, and of course going to Disney World!
Molly Kidder, MD
Hello! I grew up in Massachusetts and completed my undergraduate studies at Skidmore College in upstate New York. During the subsequent four years, I worked in allergy & immunology research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and at Mount Sinai in New York City. After 25 years up north, I decided I didn’t want to shovel my car out of the snow during medical school and moved to Miami to attend the FIU Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. Though I will always be a northeasterner at heart, I am so excited to be staying in beautiful sunny Tampa for residency and to be a part of the USF Pediatrics family! When I’m not learning to be a pediatrician, you can find me baking, running, planting things, drinking too many cups of coffee, exploring on my bike, playing with other people’s dogs, and traveling as much as possible.
Alicia Lew, MD
I was born and raised in a tiny town called Okahumpka, FL, then moved to Gainesville to attend UF for undergad (GO GATA!). I came to Tampa for medical school at USF MCOM and loved it so much I decided to stay. I love my family, puppies, tennis, drawing, and eating delicious food. I am currently interested in pediatric critical care and hospitalist medicine...but who knows what the future holds! I can't wait to be a part of the USF Peds family in the upcoming years :)
Katelyn Mayba, MD
Hi Everyone! I was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba and after too many Canadian winters with snow piled up to my chin, I am so excited to be moving to warm sunny Florida! I attended the University of Manitoba for my undergrad degree while playing volleyball and decided to migrate down south to get my medical degree at St. George’s University. I love going to as many sporting events as possible, and when I am not on the beach playing volleyball you can find me surrounded by family and friends. I love water and the outdoors, exploring restaurants and cafes, and am addicted to travelling. I am thrilled to be joining the USF Pediatric family and call Tampa my new home!
Brittany Russell, DO
Hey everyone! I grew up in Clovis, California and then went to undergrad at UC San Diego where I studied Human Biology. I love the sun and warm weather so I drove across country to go to LECOM, Bradenton in Florida for medical school. The Tampa/St. Pete area is beautiful and I loved the USF pediatric program, so I couples matched with a family medicine resident at Bayfront. My professional interests are in pediatric emergency medicine. In my free time I like to go to the beach, try new food, and hang out with friends and family. At least once a year I try to do a triathlon to help me stay in shape!
Brett Russi, MD
Originally from the other “Bay Area” in Northern California, I moved to Florida with my parents, my grandma, and my four siblings when I was 13 years old. I attended Florida State University for undergrad and had the opportunity to stay at FSU for medical school (Go NOLES!). After a great time in Tallahassee, I am excited to move on to the next chapter of my life in Tampa with my fiancée and take advantage of the beautiful beaches and amazing food. It’s an honor to have matched in Pediatrics at USF and have the chance to stay in Florida for residency. My professional interests include Pediatric Cardiology and Critical Care Medicine. Outside of medicine, I love all things related to sports, travelling to other countries, and of course, chocolate chip cookies!
Shannon Sullivan, MD
Hi everyone! I was born in Chicago but raised in Pittsburgh, PA. I attended Nova Southeastern University for undergrad and went to St. George’s University for Medical School. I am ecstatic to move back to the Sunshine state for residency at USF! In my free time I enjoy running, spending time at the beach, and hanging out with my boyfriend and our French bulldog Pascal. I’m interested in General Pediatrics and beyond excited to join the USF Pediatric Family!
Bianca Alvarez, MD
Hi! I was born in Miami, but raised in Orlando since the age of 10. I absolutely adore my home state, so it was no surprise that I attended Florida State University for both undergrad and medical school. Go Noles! Tampa is already stealing my heart, I am loving the colorful sunsets, tropical plants, and endless places to explore. You can find me doing outdoor activities or visiting my incredible Dominican family in Orlando during my free time. When I am really lucky, I also get to hang out with my sister who is a coastal biologist in Georgia. I am grateful to be able to share this Tampa experience with my fiance, who couples matched with me at USF. Primary care pediatrics has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember, and I am so excited to spend the next 3 years with USF Pediatrics!
Rachel Bordelon, DO
I was born and raised in Tampa, and am very excited to be a part of the USF Pediatrics family! I attended the University of Florida for my undergraduate degree (Go Gators!) and moved to the Midwest for medical school at ATSU-KCOM in Missouri. Although I enjoyed my time in Missouri, I’m glad to be coming home! I’m passionate about my faith, family, child advocacy and serving others. I enjoy spending quality time with my husband, family and friends, being outdoors, dance, baking and DIY projects. My professional interests include primary care and child advocacy.
Camille Carre, MD
I am originally from France. I have called Florida home for the past 5 years after attending Duke University for my Bachelor of Science in Biology, and University of Central Florida for medical school. Having moved to a different place every 4 years, I am ready to start my new adventure with the USF Family in beautiful, sunny Tampa! I am interested in becoming a pediatric hospitalist and working in academic medicine. Outside of the hospital, I have two cats (Basil and Saffron), love to eat (as you can see by my cats' names!), hit the beach, and swim in the ocean.
Kelsey Coombs, DO
I was raised in South Louisiana, but decided to branch out from the Bayou State and attended
college at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Go Vols! Following undergrad, I moved to
Florida to attend medical school at LECOM-Bradenton. Although I am still a Saints fan and I
will always bleed orange (the REAL Tennessee Orange, none of that Gator business), I
immediately fell in love with Florida and knew I didn’t want to go anywhere else for residency!
After rotating through Tampa General Hospital as a medical student and meeting the awesome
faculty and residents, I knew I was home. I truly don’t believe there is a better place to work or
live! I have an 8 year old Siberian Husky (my dog child) and the area is so unbelievably dogfriendly
that I take her just about everywhere! I am beyond excited to be completing residency
here at USF.
Paige Crocus, MD
I was born across the street from USF, so I guess I was born to be a USF Bull. I did spend 4 years at UCF for undergrad (Go Knights!) but I was thrilled to return home for medical school at USF MCOM. I am so glad I get to stay for residency and advocate for the tiny humans of Tampa. My professional interests include Hematology/Oncology and General Pediatrics. I love all animals and enjoy visiting animal sanctuaries around the country. I love spending time with family, being outdoors and exploring pet friendly St. Pete with my rescue dog, Bingley (yes, like Mr. Bingley, who makes 5000 pounds a year although my Bingley will probably cost me 5000 pounds a year). I am so excited to be a part of the USF Pediatrics family!
Amneris Hernandez Figueroa, MD
I was born in Puerto Rico and lived there during most of my childhood. At the age of 10, I moved to Pine Hill, NJ and then Philadelphia, PA. I moved back to Puerto Rico to attend college and graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a Bachelors in Cellular Molecular Biology. I completed medical school at Ponce Health Sciences University and School of Medicine in Ponce, PR, where I had the chance to train in a diverse community with unique needs. During my third year of medical school, I married my wonderful husband and best friend, Joel. We are now living in Tampa, FL and we love it! I can’t wait to begin training here as a Pediatrician. It is a privilege and honor to fulfill this dream as a part of the USF Pediatrics family. I am interested in General Pediatrics, and continuing community outreach work, as well as helping underserved communities. I also enjoy reading the Bible, the beach, shopping, drinking coffee, eating good food, watching movies, and amusement parks!
Jacob Miller, DO
I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA (go Penguins!) and took a very snowy detour up north for a few years where I studied Public Health at the University of Rochester, and then attended medical school at LECOM. After living in two cities that averaged >100" of snow per year for 6 years, I couldn't resist the pull close to my parents in Sarasota and am so excited to be moving south to Tampa for sunshine and beaches! I enjoy reading, running and biking, and I'm down for pretty much anything outdoors that doesn't involve getting eaten by a Florida alligator. I'm also a huge foodie- I love cooking and exploring the food and brewery scene in new cities. I'll be moving to Florida with my partner and a future pup, and we can't wait to explore our new home! My wide professional interests include adolescent medicine and primary care. I can't wait to find my passion while training at USF.
Tasnia Osmani, MD
As an immigrant, identities can become a bit confusing. I was born in Bangladesh, grew up in Canada and eventually moved to Polk County, Florida where my family currently resides. I attended the University of Florida for my undergraduate degree and then went on to SGU for medical school. After being a student in four different countries, I am beyond excited to be starting residency so close to home! I've wanted to practice medicine since I was a little girl, and enjoy working with children. I love family reunions, traveling, trying new food, and most importantly the sunny Florida weather!! I look forward to see what the future holds, and I'm eager to explore the field of Pediatrics!
Chandni Patel, DO
I was born and lived in Nairobi, Kenya until moving to Atlanta, GA during grade school. I attended the University of Georgia and majored in Biology and Spanish (GO DAWGS!). I came down to south Florida to complete medical school at NSU-COM, and was sold on living in Florida. I’m so excited to be a part of the USF Pediatrics family and explore the Tampa area! I have always loved working with children, and am also passionate about global medicine and community health disparities. Outside of medicine, I love spending time with my family and friends whenever I can. I enjoy traveling to new places, cooking (aka eating everything and anything), watching movies, exploring the outdoors, and finding new spots for coffee. I’m looking forward to the next three years at USF!
Natalia Pineros, MD
I was born in Bogotá, Colombia and moved to Miami, Florida when I was 8 years old. I studied Microbiology at the University of Florida and completed medical school at New York Medical College. I am blessed to be starting life Tampa to join my fiancé and be closer to my family, not to mention the beaches and warm weather I have missed the last four years. In my spare time, I enjoy painting, sketching, playing tennis and spending time with my fiancé Mark and our cat Macchiato. I am very excited to be joining the USF Pediatrics family!
Sushma Sudhi, DO
I was raised in Peachtree City, Georgia. I attended undergrad at Georgia Institute of Technology, where I got my B.S. in Biology. I attended medical school at Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine. I’m excited to be staying in Florida at USF for the next 3 years! Professionally, I'm not quite sure of primary care vs fellowship and plan to keep an open mind in the years to come. For fun, I like dancing, binge- watching Netflix, drinking warm cups of tea, and spending time with my family.
Taylor Wiseman, DO
I was born and raised in Tampa with my three siblings and little awareness of what a “real winter” feels like until I moved to Baltimore, Maryland to attend Johns Hopkins University for my undergraduate education. Despite my aversion to the cold, I had a wonderful experience – I studied Public Health and spent my spare time practicing and competing with my co-ed acapella group (yes, just like “Pitch Perfect”!), and volunteering in underserved clinics throughout the city. I obtained my medical degree from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) in the charming town of Lewisburg, WV. I am deeply passionate about preventive healthcare and have traveled internationally to provide access to healthcare in remote regions. I love spending time with my family, bringing people together, being outdoors, distance running, playing guitar, and getting people (particularly children!) excited about exercise and caring for their bodies. I couldn’t be happier to be coming back to the sunshine and joining the USF Peds Family!