Shaara Barron, 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, Medical School, and residency! During 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, sports teams, and beaches, as well as spending time with my husband and 2 cats. I also love to travel and have visited over 20 countries so far. Professionally, I am interested in general pediatrics and will be pursuing a career as an outpatient general pediatrician. USF Pediatrics provided me with an amazing residency experience, and I am thrilled to serve as Chief Resident.
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 USF, moved to Miami for medical school at FIU Herbert
Wertheim College of Medicine before ultimately coming back home to complete my
residency with USF Pediatrics. My wife and I enjoy spending time with our
two dogs, as well as our baby girl whom we welcomed into the world in
May. I am also a huge Tampa sports fan, particularly the Rays, Lightning
and USF Bulls. I am so grateful for the incredible experiences I had
during my training with USF Pediatrics, and I’m honored to be able to serve as
chief resident this year.
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!
Constance Bindernagal, DO
Hi! I was born a Cajun baby in New Orleans and grew up in the suburbs of Chicago on deep dish pizza and the Cubs. I attended Creighton University in Omaha, NE for college where I majored in medical anthropology. From there, I went to Kansas City University in Missouri where I completed the DO/MBA dual degree program in conjunction with Rockhurst University. I met my now husband on the first day of medical school orientation, and together we moved to Fort Myers, FL for our clerkship rotations. We have thoroughly enjoyed being in Florida and are looking forward to the next several years here. In my spare time, I like to cook, travel, try new foods and restaurants (my husband and I are self-proclaimed “foodies”), and go shelling at the beach. My professional interests are general pediatrics and healthcare leadership. The USF pediatric residency was the perfect combination of everything I could have ever hoped for in a program, and I cannot wait to be a part of this incredible team!
Paola Blanco, MD
Hi! I was born and raised in Miami, FL. I attended Florida International University for undergrad and UM Miller School of Medicine for medical school. My professional interests include Gastroenterology and working to end food insecurities. My hobbies include traveling, trying new restaurants, going to Disney, and spending time outdoors. I am a proud dog mom. I adopted Penny 2 years ago and I couldn’t be more obsessed with her. Tampa is super dog friendly so I can’t wait to see what adventures await us! I am excited to become a part of the USF Pediatric family and to call Tampa my home!
Sukjoo Cho, MD
I was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea. I attended the Hallym University College of Medicine in South Korea for the six-year MD course. After graduation, I worked as a public health doctor in Donghae for three years, a small rural town located on the East coast of Korean peninsula. In the late spring of 2019, I visited USF Pediatrics as an observer and was very fortunate to work with so amazing people as a team. My professional interests include Hematology-Oncology and Public Health, and I hope to pursue my career in academia later on. I love drinking coffee, cooking, traveling, and having fun time with my family and friends. It’s still unbelievable to join USF Peds for my residency and my wife and I are really looking forward to living in our new home, Tampa!
Cristina Del Valle-Avila, MD
I was born and raised in Puerto Rico and have lived there my whole life. I did a bachelors and master’s degree in Biology both from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. After my masters, I worked in research for a few years before reigniting my desire to become a doctor. I completed my medical degree at the University of Puerto Rico, School of Medicine, where I learned from doctors in my community and worked mainly with patients belonging to the underserved population. For residency, I am ready for a change in scenery! I am excited to join the USF Pediatrics Family and begin the next chapter of my life! For fun, I’m pretty laid back, like binge watching Netflix, cooking shows (though I wish I could be as good!). Though I can’t do a handstand to save my life, I love watching gymnastics, from NCAA to elite competitions and in between. I can’t wait to explore the city that will become my home for the next three years and continue on my journey to become a pediatrician.
Jasmine Jordan, MD
Hello! I was born and raised in the beautiful city of Sarasota, FL. I love the warm weather so much that I decided to stay in Florida for the rest of my education after high school. I attended University of South Florida for my Bachelor's degree in Biomedical Sciences with a minor in Biomedical Physics. Two years later, I graduated from USF College of Medicine Aging and Neuroscience Master's program. For medical school, I decided to move to northern Florida to attend Florida State University. I am so excited to be coming back to USF. It feels like I am coming back home. Family means a great deal to me and I love-spending time with them. My faith is a big part of my life and I try to attend church as often as I can. I love going to theme parks and I am a huge Harry Potter fan! Reading books is second nature to me. I love a great novel or autobiography!
Denise Klein, DO
Hi everyone! I am a Florida girl through and through. I grew up in Cocoa where I enjoyed beach volleyball, surfing, scuba diving, and anything else that involved the water. I attended the University of Florida for my bachelors (GO Gators!), then USF for my masters – which is when I fell in love with the Bay Area and met my husband! I moved to St. Pete and worked for a year in pediatric allergy and immunology, then completed my medical school education at LECOM Bradenton. I cannot believe my dream to stay in the Bay Area has been fulfilled and I will be completing my pediatric residency at USF! In our off time, we enjoy fishing, boating, biking, gardening and spending time with our three pups. I am so excited to continue my medical education in the beautiful sunshine state and hope to stay here for many years to come.
Andrea Lafnitzegger, DO
Hi! I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. After 18 years of snow and cold, I headed down to the Sunshine State to attend the University of Miami, FL, where I earned my bachelor’s degree in neuroscience. After finishing my undergraduate degree, I worked full-time as a clinical coordinator in a neuropsychology laboratory at the University of Notre Dame for one year. I moved closer to family where I received my D.O. degree at A.T. Still University KCOM. My significant other and I are very excited to both be joining the USF family together, with him starting his intern year in emergency medicine. We love spending time outside with our chocolate lab, Clark, and are excited to show him the beach for the first time! I am currently undecided as to what area of pediatrics I will work in, but I am excited to incorporate mental health advocacy into whatever I do. In my free time, I love to run, read, and volunteer as a crisis intervention counselor. I cannot wait to be a USF pediatric resident and to start working towards my dream of being a pediatrician!
Matthew Lazzara, MD
Hi Everyone! I’m a Tampa native and attended USF for undergrad and medical school. I’m proud to be serving my community while continuing my training in Pediatrics! I look forward to helping my patients and their families live healthy lives! Along with helping my patients, I include education as an important aspect of my work. I love working with students and will make sure to incorporate teaching wherever I end up practicing. Outside of medicine, I like learning about history, running on the Riverwalk, and cheering on my Bucs, Bulls, and Rays! I look forward to meeting you!
Cherishma Patel, MD
Hello! I was born in Atlanta GA, grew up in India for a few years, and attended Emory University for undergrad where I got my Bachelor's in Biology and International Studies. I dabbled in EMS for about a year before attending the Medical College of Georgia. I started out my residency in Med-Peds, where after a few months I realized I'd be happier focusing exclusively on pediatrics. It just so happened that the stars aligned and I was able to transfer to the Pediatrics program here! I'm interested in hospital medicine, environmental health, and am also considering pursuing a fellowship. As for my hobbies, I enjoy running, hiking, reading (mainly sci-fi and fantasy), crafting/drawing, wasting time on tiktok, and eating. I thrive in tropical environments and am so excited to explore Tampa and work with everyone at USF!
Selena Soviravong, MD
I was born and raised in Alpharetta, Georgia and attended the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!) for undergrad. I majored in biology and psychology before attending the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta. I have vacationed to Florida multiple times, but fell in love when I visited Tampa. I love warm weather and the beach and knew I wanted to move to Florida. Professionally, I am interested in pursuing a career in primary care. My hobbies include crafting, cooking and travelling to new cities. I am excited to explore Tampa and become part of the USF pediatric family!
Kaitlyn Steward, DO
Hello! I was born and raised in Florida and went to the University of South Florida for my undergraduate degree. During my time there, I was able to explore much of Tampa, which is when I fell in love with the city. Good food, people, and near-by beaches! I then attended Nova Southeastern University KPCOM in Ft. Lauderdale for medical school but knew I wanted to eventually return to the Tampa/St. Pete area. I am so excited to be coming back for residency and joining the USF Pediatrics Family! Currently, my professional interests include pursuing a fellowship in Critical Care or Emergency Medicine one day. Outside of medicine, I love being outdoors (Yes, even with Florida humidity!) and spending time with my family and friends. I also like petting every dog within sight. Go Bulls!!
Ivy Wilson, MD
I grew up on farm in S.C. as the second to youngest of five. I completed a BS degree in biology at Anderson University where I love pretending to be a wildlife biologist but realized my talents, temperament, and passion was really in medicine. I went to USCSOMG in Greenville S.C. and fell in love with pediatrics. At home I enjoy spending time with my pets, birding, baking and learning to sew. I am incredibly excited to begin my residency training at USF in beautiful Tampa!
Pediatrics Resident Testimonial with Michelle Hojnicki
Pediatrics Resident Testimonial with Brett Russi
Resident testimonial with Alicia Drees