Michelle Blanco, MD
A true Florida girl, I was born and raised in Miami and then traveled far north to Tampa for undergrad, medical school and residency at USF - Go Bulls!! I met my wonderful husband, Travis, during medical school and we have been lucky enough to share this journey in medicine. I love USF so much I decided to stick around for a chief year before pursuing a career in general pediatrics.
Jillian Hagerman, DO
I was born and raised Columbus, Ohio and attended undergrad in Northwest Ohio at Bowling Green State University. After years of shoveling snow, I moved to sunny Florida to attend medical school at LECOM-Bradenton. I am passionate about preventative medicine and health education which naturally lead me to pediatrics. As a student, I did a visiting rotation at USF Pediatrics and fell in love and am so excited to do residency here. I enjoyed it so much - I am staying an extra year now as Chief Resident! My residency experience at USF has not only given me the clinical knowledge and progressive autonomy to practice evidence-based medicine confidently but also taught me the "life-balance" skills necessary to encourage my own wellness. The faculty are dedicated to educating residents and have really fostered my growth as a young leader and advocate while providing care to the underserved children of Tampa Bay. After Chief year, I plan to pursue a career in Adolescent Medicine with a special focus on promoting resilience in youth.
Taylor Alberdi, MD
I was born and raised in Clearwater, Florida and left the area to attend the University of Florida for undergrad. Go Gators! I wanted to come back to the Tampa Bay area/USF for medical school. I have a pretty big extended family that lives in the area and wanted to be close to them. I have wanted to be a Pediatrician my whole life, and this is mostly due to my large and close family. I love everything about Florida. This includes our great beaches, boating, scuba diving, lobstering and scalloping. I also enjoy traveling, running, and cooking in my free time. I am so happy to be staying here and continuing to be part of the USF Pediatric Family!
Alison Cullinane, MD
I grew up in Tampa, Florida and moved to the Northeast to attend Boston College where I received my undergrad degree in Communications and met my husband Jason. After a career in marketing, during which time I earned my MBA from Boston University, I knew that my heart was in medicine. I left the business world, and spent a year doing research at Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston before coming back home to Tampa, where my parents still live. I started medical school at USF Morsani College of Medicine and had two adorable sons during those four years. Connor will be 3.5 years old and Jack will just be turning 1 year old when I start residency in July. I am excited to be staying here in Tampa to do my Pediatric Residency at USF, and can't wait to officially be a pediatrician. In my personal time I love spending time with my family, playing with my two boys, reading, watching Oscar movies, and spending time outside.
Elissa Engel, MD
I was born and raised in a small suburban town in northern NJ. I attended the University of Delaware for undergrad where I received my Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. I took a giant leap of faith moving to Florida to attend medical school at the University of Central Florida and it was the best decision I’ve made! I now consider the sunshine state my new home and couldn’t imagine doing residency anywhere else! My professional interests include community outreach, global health, and academic medicine. I also love being outdoors, especially at the beach, and enjoy taking advantage of the Florida resident discounts at Disney, Universal Studios, and Busch Gardens.
Lauren Furman, MD
I was born and raised in sunny south Florida, where I grew up loving the warmth and the water. I went to the University of Florida for my undergraduate degree in Health Sciences and quickly learned how great it was to be a Florida Gator! I stayed in this beautiful state again for medical school, at the University of Central Florida. After ten years in the center of the state, I am so excited to be back on the coast at USF! Within Pediatrics, I’m especially interested in Hematology/Oncology, but I plan to keep my mind open throughout this exciting journey! In my free time, I love dancing, the beach, and spending time with my adorable 3.5 pound chihuahua, Biscuit.
Jaurel Harley, MD
I'm from St. John, US Virgin Islands and have lived there pretty much my whole life. I attended the University of the Virgin Islands where I received my Bachelor of Science in Biology. While there, I was accepted into the Early Medical School Selection Program at the Boston University School of Medicine and upon graduation from UVI, I entered medical school at the BU School of Medicine. School was probably the only thing that could get me to move from the beautiful/warm Virgin Islands to frigid cold Boston. As I'm naturally attracted to the sun and warm weather, I'm now here in warm/sunny Tampa at USF and I couldn't be more excited. Becoming a Pediatrician has been a dream of mine, but now it's a reality and USF Peds is the perfect place to begin this new journey. I'm interested in Neonatology as well as mentoring and I'm happy to be apart of the USF family! Outside of the hospital I enjoy playing tennis, restaurant hopping, gardening, and hitting the beach; anything that involves the sun really.
Alexandra Howard, DO
Hello! Being from a military family, I’m from a little bit of everywhere. I spent most of my childhood living overseas in Italy. After returning to the US, my family settled in Jacksonville, FL where I enrolled in the Arts schools, majoring in Piano. I attended Emory University for undergrad, majoring in Neuroscience and English. I went on to earn my MPH from the University of North Florida. Four years ago, I left the south and moved up to Chicago for medical school at CCOM; and after four long, cold winters away from family, I am more than ready to return to sunshiny Florida! I am thrilled to be joining the Pediatrics team here at USF! My professional interests include infectious diseases, public health research, health education, and medical volunteerism. In my free time, I love social dancing (Argentine tango, swing, and blues), travelling whenever possible, playing board games, and spending time with my husband and our dog Noodle.
Kaley McCrary, MD
My name is Kaley McCrary and I was born and raised in Tampa, Florida. My family is from Florida as well so my love for sunny weather and beaches runs deep within my soul. I am the only child so I hold my family near and dear to my heart. My hobbies include getting lost in a good book, cooking, working out, discovering new delicious wines and of course shopping!!! After residency I hope to pursue a fellowship in pediatric hematology oncology. I am exciting to be joining USF MCOM Pediatrics and I look forward to working with my new extended family.
Carlos Pagan, MD
I was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I attended the University of Puerto Rico-Cayey Campus for undergraduate studies and then completed medical school at the University of Puerto Rico-School of Medicine. During my free time, I enjoy going to the beach and spending time with friends. I am excited to be moving to Florida and making Tampa my new home.
Erica Peterson, MD
Being born and raised in Brandon, Florida, I am definitely a Florida native. I attended the University of South Florida for undergrad and was delighted to stay in Tampa to attend medical school at the Morsani College of Medicine. I met my amazing husband during medical school orientation week and we got married during our third year. He is completing his general surgery residency here in Tampa. In my spare time, I enjoy cooking, home DIY projects, taking scenic walks, and spending time with my wonderful husband and family.
I am excited to have another three years at USF, especially with the wonderful people in pediatrics! I am not exactly sure what type of pediatric medicine I will be practicing after residency, but I am excited for the journey I will take over the next three years to figure that out.
Carissa Simone, MD
Born and raised in Clearwater, FL, I am thrilled to be moving back to the Tampa Bay Area for my pediatrics residency. I attended the University of Miami for my undergraduate degree in Exercise Physiology and St. George’s University for medical school. Growing up as the oldest in a giant Italian family, having fun with kids and sharing their contagious energy led me to my career as a pediatrician. My interests include hematology/oncology, adolescent medicine and global health. In my free time, I am a Zumba instructor and love to take any dance or fitness class I can. I also love cooking and creating new recipes, listening to live music, and traveling.
Christian Tan, MD
Hi everyone! I was born in Tampa, but have lived all over Florida. My one excursion outside of Florida was for undergraduate at Georgia Institute of Technology where I got my B.S. in Biomedical Engineering. I returned to the Sunshine state for medical school at the University of Central Florida. Outside my professional life, I love spending time with my beautiful wife and our 2 daughters (3 years old and 1 month old). My other interests include gardening, cooking, running, and playing and watching football (Go Jaguars and Yellow Jackets!). My professional interests include pediatric cardiology and NICU.”
Tanner Wright, MD
Hey Everyone! Born and raised in Orlando, FL, I have only strayed from the wonderful sunshine state for four amazing years, playing Volleyball while attending Quincy University, in Illinois… ultimately I ran back to the sunshine and warmth for medical school at USF Morsani College of Medicine and am thrilled to be staying with USF Pediatrics for residency. Outside of pediatric medicine, I live for volleyball, the outdoors, and my family and friends; I have truly fallen in love with Tampa for its culture, people, food, and location along the water. I am so grateful for USF Pediatrics for allowing me to stay where I feel my soul belongs and continue the life I love here in Tampa.
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!