Our Residents





Robert Rymowicz, DO


My name is Robert Rymowicz, and I am a fourth year psychiatry resident at the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. I graduated from Western University of Health Science in Pomona, California, in 2016. While in medical school, I served as the National President of PsychSIGN, the APA’s medical student interest group. Prior to medical school, I graduated with a Bachelor’s Of Science in Psychology in 2003, and served as an Air Force officer.

I am happy to be a part of the Rutgers NJMS Psychiatry program because it has afforded me the opportunity to pursue my interests in addiction psychiatry, forensic psychiatry, and medical student education and wellness, while training in a collegial environment, and serving a socioeconomically diverse population. In my free time, I enjoy exploring Manhattan with my girlfriend, and visiting restaurants. This year I look forward to traveling to the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, American Society of Addiction Medicine, and American Psychiatric Association conferences and meeting friends, old and new. 

Ketan Hirapara, MD


My name is Ketan Hirapara and I am a PGY IV psychiatry resident at Rutgers NJMS. I was born and raised in India. After completing medical school at SMIMER Medical College, India, I decided to pursue residency in the United States. On my journey from medical school to residency, I went through several ups and downs that strengthened my resolve towards achieving my dream of becoming a psychiatrist. This journey began as a research volunteer in Electroconvulsive therapy research and working with patients suffering from depression and psychotic illnesses at Zucker Hillside Hospital, NY. I then volunteered at Rutgers-NJMS with Dr. Kennedy about patient satisfaction. These experiences enabled me match here and I was thrilled to learn about my match result!

This program has afforded me a great home-work balance, amazing friends and colleagues and multiple opportunities to explore and further my interests in psychiatry. My interests include mood disorders, developmental disorders, addiction, pain management, psychotherapy and medical education. When I am not working, I spend time playing with my son, going out with family and friends, listening to music and last but not the least, love to cook!

Banu Karadag, MD


My name is Banu Ozkan Karadag. I am a PGY IV psychiatry resident at Rutgers-NJMS. I am originally from Turkey, where I completed medical school and residency training in psychiatry. Growing up as the daughter of a psychiatry professor, I gained some awareness into mental illness. This awareness grew and led to a focused, refined interest for me during my young adulthood and I decided to go to medical school to become a psychiatrist. Pursuing my passion and being a part of the Rutgers-NJMS psychiatry family while completing my psychiatry training in the US has been a very exciting experience.

I am interested in clinical research of first episode psychosis and I worked as a postdoctoral associate at Yale university’s 'Specialized Treatment Early in Psychosis' (STEP) clinic. During my spare time I enjoy being with family, cooking, baking, watching movies and practicing yoga.

Usman Ahmad, MD MBA


My name is Usman Ahmed and I am a PGY IV Psychiatry Resident at Rutgers-NJMS. I was born in Karachi, Pakistan and after graduating medical school, I worked in Pakistan for a few years. I then came to the US and completed an MBA in Business of Medicine from Johns Hopkins University.

I did a prelim year in internal medicine in Brooklyn, NYC, where dealing with patients, made me realize that a strong mind in a weak body can strive against difficulties in a better way than a diseased mind in a strong body and infused a passion for psychiatry within me.  The training I have been receiving at the prestigious Rutgers-NJMS has broadened my horizons, helped me step into both a clinician’s and an administrator’s shoes and uniquely tied together their perspectives.

My hobbies include traveling all over the world, meeting new and different people and learning about their cultures. I have explored China, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey, Portugal, France, the United Kingdom, Canada and several states in the USA. Africa is my next destination.

Gezel Saheli, MD 


My name is Gezel Saheli and I am a PGY IV psychiatry resident at Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School. I was raised in Iran and graduated from Tehran University of Medical Science. I did two years of categorical Internal Medicine residency where counseling anxious patients and effective patient-centered, individualized communication turned out to be the most rewarding part of my residency. I decided to pursue psychiatry as it allows me to realize my desire to be active and vigilant with respect to the health problems in my community and provide the best healthcare service, without limitation.

Prior to residency training, I worked as a research fellow at the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Southern California, where I had great research experiences.
I hold specific interests in clinical research using Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
therapy and in PTSD. I am happy to be a part of the Rutgers-NJMS Psychiatry program
because it has offered me a friendly, academic and well-balanced work environment.

My hobbies are hiking, dancing, volunteering in fundraising events for charities and schools.




Samar Alimirzaei, MD


My name is Samar Ali Mirzaei and I am a PGY III psychiatry resident at Rutgers NJMS. I was born and raised in Iran, where I finished medical school. I found psychiatry fascinating as it is one of the last truly enigmatic branches of medicine, dealing with the mysterious and mostly unexplored frontier of the human mind. I also find it fulfilling to improve the mental health of individuals, which contributes to their overall well-being. The holistic approach, one of the fundamentals of psychiatry, requires knowledge in a wide array of scientific disciplines, ranging from medicine to anthropology and sociology- transcending the divide between life and social sciences. I also love the fact that psychiatry requires a focus on aspects which make us uniquely human. My brief experience in research, exploring the effect of different neurotransmitters on neurocircuitry of nicotine addiction, exposed me to the huge potential of neuroscience applications in mental health and substance-use disorders.
At Rutgers-NJMS, I have all the resources, mentorship and encouragement that I need to pursue my goals of becoming a well-rounded psychiatrist; capable of forming a sound therapeutic alliance with my patients, while contributing to research exploring the neural correlates of mental illnesses that will hopefully lead to novel treatments.
In my free time, I enjoy reading, playing Flamenco guitar, doing Yoga and meditation and watching thriller/mystery movies.

Mohammad Ali, MD


My name is Mohammad Ali and I'm a PGY-III resident at Rutgers-NJMS Psychiatry. I decided to pursue Psychiatry so that I can improve my patients' mental health and help them restore wellness in their lives. I firmly believe that through a strong, transparent, and collaborative patient-physician alliance, it is possible to relieve the debilitating burden of psychiatric illnesses and achieve a healthy state of mind. With greater national attention towards mental health and the dissipating stigma around mental illness, I'm excited to play a role in advancing the revolution we are seeing in mental health, especially with regards to research and development of new treatment modalities. 

My interests include child & adolescent psychiatry, addiction, and psychosomatic medicine. Apart from Psychiatry, my personal passions include traveling, photography, and music. 

Rober Aziz, MD


My name is Rober Aziz and I am a PGY III Resident at Rutgers NJMS. Growing up in Bergen County, earning my bachelor’s degree in psychology at the nearby Rutgers-Newark, and volunteering at what was formerly known as UMDNJ has given Rutgers-NJMS a special place in my heart.  Being a resident at Rutgers-NJMS has provided me with the opportunity to serve the community that I have known and loved since my childhood. I earned my MD from the American University of Antigua where I received the Medical Scholar Outstanding Leadership Award for my work as the lead teacher’s assistant and served as chief student during the psychiatry clerkship.  I also chose to do my electives in a variety of psychiatric settings including clinical research, forensic psychiatry, and a CPEP.

I decided to specialize in psychiatry because no two patients are the same. Every patient has unique biological, psychological and social factors requiring a personal treatment plan.  This makes the specialty particularly fascinating and catapulted my rising interest in Forensic Psychiatry. Human behavior and the mind as well as teaching have always been my two passions. Along with being a successful psychiatrist, it is a career goal of mine to be involved in academic medicine. I have enjoyed my training at NJMS and our unique population has strengthened my aforementioned reasons for choosing this program and specialty.  My interests outside of work include spending time with my family and traveling. This year, I am most looking forward to a trip to Maldives. 

Lukmanafis Babajide, MD


Hi, my name is Lukmon Babajide and I am a PGY III at Rutgers NJMS. I was born in Houston, TX and completed undergrad in North Carolina at Davidson College where I majored in Sociology. I attended medical school in Dallas, TX at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Though I have always known that I wanted to be a physician, my experience in Sociology in college helped me decide that I wanted to be a politically active psychiatrist. I believe that, within psychiatry, having a socio-political or socio-cultural framework is imperative since pathology is defined by the lack of social functioning in one’s environment. This unique detail that affects everything about us (and is apparent in all medical disciplines to varying degrees) is what makes psychiatric work fascinating, valuable, and essential to the well-being of patients. How an individual functions in tandem and conjunction with multiple social systems can have such an intricate and profound affect (positive or not) on their psyche. Sharing in this journey with the patient towards stability and understanding is my main drive to continue in medicine. 

Rutgers NJMS is a great place for me to cultivate the skills I need to become a great psychiatrist while also being politically active. In my free time, I like to play basketball, ultimate frisbee, and volleyball. I also enjoy traveling, documentaries, listening to music, and occasionally writing.  

Rafael Coira, MD JD


My name is Rafael Coira, I am a PGY III resident at Rutgers-NJMS. I was born in Puerto Rico and grew up in New York City and Bergen County, New Jersey. I attended college at Montclair State University where I majored in biology. After college, I earned my Juris Doctorate with a concentration in Intellectual Property from Seton Hall University School of Law. I had the privilege of serving as a Judicial Intern at the Superior Court of New Jersey, as well as practicing as a litigation attorney at a private law firm. I attended medical school at St. George’s University where I was a member of the international honors society and Vice President of the Student Government Association. I also received a Distinction in Research for work in anatomy and psychiatry, with a particular focus in equine therapy. 

At Rutgers NJMS, I am training to fulfill my dream of becoming a third generation psychiatrist. Through my experiences in the law and medicine, I have developed a strong sense of social justice, and believe that access to high quality healthcare is a fundamental right of every human being. I live in Bergen County where I love to spend all of my free time with my beautiful wife and daughter.

Mayowa Olusunmade, MD MPH


My name is Mayowa Olusanmade, and I am a PGY III Psychiatry Resident at Rutgers-NJMS. I was born and raised in Nigeria where I earned my medical degree from the University of Ibadan. After graduation, I worked in an underserved area in rural Nigeria as a medical officer and, seeing how the system functioned, became interested in community health and health systems which led me to complete a Master’s Degree in Public Health at the Harvard School of Public Health. 
I am particularly interested in depressive disorders, the non-pharmacologic management of pain and in childhood trauma and addiction. My research interests center around depression and chronic pain.

Outside of psychiatry, I love to spend time with my wife who is unavoidably far away in Columbus OH pursuing her residency in OBGYN. I also like to try out new recipes from different cuisines around the world (thanks to YouTube) and am always on the lookout for new exciting fragrances to add to my ever-growing collection of colognes, perfumes, attars etc.

James Sherer, MD


My name is James Sherer and I am a PGY III Psychiatry Resident at Rutgers NJMS. I was born in New York City but have lived in New Jersey most of my life. I grew up around psychiatry and medicine: my mother is a licensed clinical social worker and my father is an infectious disease physician. Despite this, I always saw myself becoming a lawyer.  I studied English Literature and Law at New York University. During college I worked for The Legal Aid Society of Manhattan and New York City Council. After graduating from college I worked as a paralegal for a commercial litigation firm, working on pro-bono cases for individual clients at night. Throughout my legal experience, the most rewarding parts of my day were working one-on-one with people in tough situations. Soon after graduation, I realized law school wasn’t for me, and began shadowing my father and learning about medicine. I was immediately hooked. 

I attended Rutgers - New Jersey Medical School, where I received the Psychiatry Faculty Award for Outstanding Achievement. I have presented posters at several annual meetings of the American Psychiatric Association and am the co-author of the review book Ward Wisdom: Psychiatry Questions for Medical Students, Written by Medical Students (2017). During my first two years of residency, I have become fascinated by addiction psychiatry and look forward to eventually completing an addiction psychiatry fellowship.




Muhammad Aadil, MD


My name is Muhammad Aadil and I am a PGY II psychiatry resident at Rutgers NJMS. I was born and raised in Lahore, Pakistan, where I graduated from FMH College of Medicine and Dentistry. During medical school, I developed a passion for working with the underserved. I extensively volunteered at multiple community organizations to promote health and education.

I have had a keen interest in studying human behavior and evolutionary psychology and found my psychiatry rotations to be absolutely fascinating. I liked the idea that a psychiatrist has to take each and every aspect of his/her patient’s life into account while devising a tailored treatment plan. After graduation, my interest in psychiatry was deepened further by working at an addiction treatment center and doing research in a clinical study to understand the interplay of spirituality and mental health. I have published multiple peer-reviewed papers and have presented posters at local and international forums. My review paper on mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy as an adjunct treatment for ADHD won the Jay G. Hirsch Award by Illinois Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry for best review paper in 2017.  I further devote my time to ‘ResearchHub’, a forum I created to guide and promote scientific research among young medical students around the world and mentor them in their projects.

At Rutgers NJMS, I have the opportunity to pursue exceptional training and my academic interests. Outside of work I love playing cricket, existentialism philosophy, watching horror movies, trying out new restaurants and hanging out with friends.

Zahra Basseda, MD


My name is Zahra Basseda. I am a PGY-II psychiatry resident at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. I grew up in Iran and studied medicine at Tehran University of Medical Science. Since high-school, I pictured myself as a neuroscientist who will devote her life to help patients by discovering better treatment options for major psychiatric and neurological illnesses. Even at medical school, my focus was on research and joined a pharmacology lab to study the psychopharmacology of addiction. The turning point in my career were my first psychiatry rotations, where I felt the great joy of working with psychiatric patients and learnt of the role an excellent psychiatrist plays on their patients' lives. I realized pursuing psychiatry would be the perfect opportunity for me to combine my interest in neuroscience and in directly helping patients with major psychiatric disorders. I moved to the United States for better training and research opportunities in the field of neuroscience and psychiatry and worked as a researcher at Columbia University, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Dartmouth College before I started my residency at Rutgers.

I am excited to be here, at Rutgers, with several great opportunities to learn and serve the community and I am looking forward to enjoying every moment.

Diego Garces Grosse, MD


My name is Diego Garces and I am a PGY II Psychiatry Resident at Rutgers NJMS. I was born and raised in Lima, Perú; where I completed medical school at Cayetano Heredia University. Since the very beginning of my medical career I developed a great interest in psychiatry and the mysteries the mind holds, later on, every rotation in psychiatry just helped me consolidate my decision to come into psychiatry.

After finishing medical school, I worked in rural areas of the Peruvian Amazon jungle treating isolated communities and realized how mental health is many times overlooked, which has given me a growing interest in global mental health and public health.

There is a lot more ahead to keep learning from psychiatry and I continue to acquire this knowledge to help my patients and to develop a passionate career for myself. In my free time I like working out, reading fiction and watching thrillers and horror movies.

Faisal Kagadkar, MD


My name is Faisal Kagadkar and I am a PGY-II resident. I was born and spent my early childhood in Saudi Arabia, before moving with family to India. After graduating high school, I went to Terna Medical College, Navi Mumbai, where I got drawn to psychiatry and mental health. Psychiatry offered me the unique opportunity to hear my patients, their stories, their ambitions, desires and the lack of, and leave a profound impact on them and their families.

In my final year of med school, I travelled to the US and experiences in psychiatry made me decide on pursuing residency in the US. Then began a beautiful journey, traveling across the US, meeting and working with fantastic mentors, gaining multiple clinical and research experiences culminating into residency at Rutgers NJMS!

Over intern year, I have been fortunate to learn and grow from supportive mentors, diverse patient population, multiple clinical sites and a friendly bunch of residents. I am interested in both child-adolescent and forensic psychiatry and am excited to continue exploring these interests as well as developing new ones here! Besides psychiatry, I love soccer (Hala Madrid!), biking, learning languages and spending time with family and friends.

Aitzaz Munir, MD


Hi, I am Aitzaz Munir and I am a PGY II psychiatry resident at Rutgers NJMS. I was born and raised in Pakistan where I completed my medical education, before coming to the USA. My father, a physician, has always been my inspiration. During my medical school rotations, I came across various scenarios where the mental health of a patient was ignored because of the attached stigma. And, I have always believed in complete wellness, where-in a healthy mind is integral and these motivated me to pursue psychiatry.

I have a strong interest in understanding mood disorders and learning about emerging, novel treatment modalities. I have received training in Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy and have been a part of several research projects, at Howard University Hospital, targeting the development of new treatments for Treatment Resistant Depression. 

My passion for mental wellness and research in psychiatry led me to Rutgers NJMS. So far, it has been a wonderful journey, at a great institution. Rotations at three different sites have given me the opportunity to work with diverse patient populations and psychopathology.

Outside of work, I love to travel, try new cuisines and play with my son. I am very fortunate to be here and look forward to many more adventures in residency. 

Lancer Naghdechi, DO


Hello there! I’m Lancer Naghdechi, a second year psychiatry resident at Rutgers NJMS. Since high school I have been interested in human psychology and behavior. While studying psychology as an undergraduate at UCLA, I decided to go the route of medicine to become a psychiatrist. While applying to medical school after graduating from UCLA, I earned a master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences at Rosalind Franklin University of Medical Sciences in North Chicago, IL. I moved back home to L.A. to attend medical school at Western University of Health Sciences. 

My interests include psychotherapy, neuromodulation, forensic psychiatry, and sexual medicine. I am excited for the last step in my journey to become a psychiatrist at Rutgers NJMS.

Tooba Qadir, MD


My name is Tooba Qadir and I am a PGY II resident at Rutgers NJMS. While growing up in one of Pakistan’s largest metropolitan cities, I always felt very strongly about eradicating the stigma against mental illnesses. I graduated from Dow Medical College in Karachi, and since then have been working towards training in psychiatry. Now as a PGY II at Rutgers, I feel like I’m on the right path to do so much more. This is a great time to be involved in psychiatric healthcare. We’re doing more and more each day and treatments today have never been more advanced.
My interest specifically lies in forensic psychiatry. I feel that there is a great need for effective liaison between mental health professionals and legislators, for the purpose of imparting justice to those who might be suffering from psychiatric disorders. I've also recently become interested in addiction psychiatry (no surprises considering our leadership!) and might consider an addiction fellowship.

Geoffrey Talis, MD


Hello! My name is Geoffrey Talis. I’m a New Jersian, born and raised. Quite honestly, I had a very elementary understanding of what exactly a psychiatrist actually was before my clerkship rotation. I came into medical school thinking I would be a family doctor, but given my incredible experiences in my psychiatry rotations and my own experience in therapy pushed me in this new direction. 

I received my MS degree in Complementary and Alternative Medicine from Georgetown University and developed a strong interest in mind-body medicine and physiology. Connecting this interest with my ongoing work in enhancing student wellness over the past 10 years, I co-founded the Integrative Health and Medicine Club at St. George’s University in 2015. I personally led meditation sessions for my classmates and faculty for about two years and began a meditation facilitator training initiative that continues today. I am also creating an online medical student community called Med Student Health (medstudenthealth.com) for the purposes of bringing students together and raising awareness for supporting each other’s self-care habits. 

At Rutgers NJMS I quickly gathered the psychiatry department’s interest in promoting teaching, research and mentorship opportunities. I also look forward to continuing to connect my experiences and evidence-based knowledge of Integrative Health and Medicine with conventional psychiatry and student wellness at Rutgers NJMS!

Chun Tong, MD


My name is Chun and I am a PGY II resident. I grew up in Hong Kong, China and moved to the United States when I was 12 to live with my aunt and uncle. I graduated from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ in 2012 with a Bachelor’s in Chemistry and worked at XenoBiotic Laboratories as a scientist for two years before I joined the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School Class of 2018. Having grown up in a large family of accountants and engineers, my decision of applying to a medical school did raise a few eyebrows. However, I was given unconditional love and support from my uncle and aunts and for that I am always grateful.

At NJMS, I got to work with our wonderful faculty and staff here at University Hospital while exploring different fields of medicine. This is where I developed a strong interest in psychiatry, particularly in the field of addiction psychiatry, thanks to my exposure of such diverse populations here in Newark. I saw, personally, how our work as psychiatrists was able to make a difference in our patients’ lives, in ways that are more impactful than mere medical procedures and medications. I took additional psychiatry electives and worked on a case report on orthorexia nervosa during my fourth year, which was presented at the annual APA conference. Fascinated by the whole experience, I had no doubt that psychiatry is my calling. I sincerely look forward to continuing my training and working with my colleagues here at Rutgers NJMS.

Heather Wurtz, MD


My name is Heather Wurtz and I am a PGY II resident at Rutgers NJMS. I was born and grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, where I was first exposed to the field of medicine by my father, a neonatologist. I attended Grinnell College, in Iowa, where I majored in psychology, while completing premedical studies as well. Since college I have had the opportunity to live in Durham, North Carolina; Pasadena, California; and Zurich, Switzerland, before landing in Pennington, New Jersey in 2004.

I attended medical school here at Rutgers NJMS where I enjoyed serving the community as part of the Student Family Health Care Center, and being part of the team working to publish a second edition of Ward Wisdom: Psychiatry Questions for Medical Students, Written by Medical Students. During my time at NJMS as a medical student, I was excited to work with the excellent faculty and staff in the NJMS Psychiatry Department, continue to learn from them. At Rutgers NJMS, I get exposure to diverse patient populations and psychopathology, as well as first-rate teachers and mentors, and enthusiastic and caring residents. I am particularly interested in child and adolescent psychiatry, and look forward to learning more about the specialty.

Outside of the hospital I especially enjoy spending time with my husband and three children. Exercise and being outdoors are passions of mine, and when I get the chance I like to go for a run or take a walk with my dogs. I also love reading contemporary fiction, catching up on the latest on Netflix, or playing games with my family.




Donya Nazery, DO


Hi!  My name is Donya.  I’m a PGY-1 Psychiatry resident at Rutgers NJMS.  I was born in Northridge, California and spent the first decade of my life in Iran before moving back to the San Fernando Valley at age 11.  After high school, I pursued free-lance fashion design before deciding to go to college. It wasn’t until I enrolled in my first biological psychology course that my interest sparked in all things mind, brain and human behavior. From a young age, I had tried to make sense of the world around me and I had finally found the language and the science to understand what makes us human.  

Following this curiosity, I received my Bachelors in Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior and Minor in Psychology from UC Davis, in Northern California.  While there, I also got involved in Autism research using functional MRIs while working with adolescents on the spectrum. I knew then that I wanted to pursue psychiatry as a career.  My quest brought me to upstate New York to Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, where I met my now husband. He is a second-year emergency medicine resident at Hackensack University Hospital.  We currently reside in Harrison, NJ with zero pets but plenty of house plants. 

I love psychiatry because it combines my love for the biological sciences and betterment of the human condition.  I’m passionate about preventative medicine and holistic psychiatry with focus on not only treating disease but optimizing mental health and cognition through means of proper nutrition, sleep, and mindfulness.  I’m also interested in researching the link between our immune and endocrine systems with different psychiatric presentations. In the future, I see myself practicing consultation-liaison, emergency psychiatry as well as community-based outpatient psychiatry.

My academic interests are balanced by my passion for nature, hiking, photography, cooking, and a curiosity about other cultures and cuisines.

Ana Claudia Zacarkim Santos, MD


My name is Ana Claudia and I am a PGY-I resident at Rutgers NJMS. I was born in the midwest of Brazil, in a city called Cuiaba. I entered medical school with a desire to change the reality of people who were usually unseen, neglected by society and frequently by their own families. At the beginning of my medical course, I joined my state psychiatry league and started volunteering at a local orphanage. The fear in the children’s eyes was very real, but hope and trust was still there, like an undying flame. I learned more about compassion and resilience during those weeks than I had ever learned before. 

Such experiences gave me the basis I needed to start transforming desire into action. By that point, I already knew I wanted to be a psychiatrist, and the certainty that I wanted to be a child psychiatrist became stronger. I knew that despite not being able to change
their past, I could help those children to have a much brighter future. As my curiosity about the human mind grew sharper, I started to see psychiatry as a noble scientific art. There are no definitive labs to rely on and although psychopharmacology is of importance, I noticed the value of a therapeutic connection necessary to fully understand an individual’s situation and the context of their symptoms.  

However, I haven't walked this journey alone. My loving family and boyfriend have always been my fortress and my greatest supports, and I am thankful to have them in my life. There is nothing better than enjoying a good chimarrão with them on a rainy day. Well, perhaps skydiving, watching the sunset, and listening to the sound of the ocean might get close to it!

Andrea Guerrero, MD


Hello! My name is Andrea Guerrero and I am a PGY-I resident. I was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela. I completed medical school at Universidad Central de Venezuela. I previously worked as a research fellow in smoking cessation at the Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center in Miami, FL. While there, understanding and learning about addictions became one of my interests. Becoming a psychiatrist was a decision that goes beyond defining my career, it is an expression of who I am and my curiosity of human behavior.

Mental illness is strongly stigmatized for many reasons, including its unpredictability and lack of understanding. This only motivates me even further to work in a field, that in my opinion, has the deepest impact in a person’s life. After all, our mind is the screen that continuously shapes our world. Our thoughts and beliefs are seeds that determine how we experience reality and who we want to become.

I practice yoga for fun, go for runs every once in a while, and not too long ago started taking golf lessons (please don’t ask about my handicap!). My priorities are giving my best in everything I do and enjoying life.

Karl Steier, DO


My name is Karl Steier and I am a PGY-1 resident at Rutgers NJMS. I was born in Miami, Florida, and grew up in Broward County, FL. As a young person, I had an enthusiastic inclination toward the study of human behavior, beginning with casual readings of books on the subject. The books primed me to look for the poetry in even the most arid and often laborious academic and professional circumstances. I attended Florida Atlantic University and majored in psychology. I was exposed to a multitude of disciplinary perspectives. I quickly identified the disciplines of evolutionary and developmental psychology as my primary areas of interest. 

Upon graduation, I applied for jobs in various mental health facilities. Soon thereafter, I started working at a psychiatric hospital, as a mental health technician. The milieu of mental health and medicine became more tangible, and less abstract, as I interacted with various staff members and numerous patients. Eventually, I decided that I wanted to attend medical school. I completed post-graduate requirements and matriculated into medical school. A passion for psychology and neuroscience ameliorated my drive for pursuing psychiatry. In 2015, I moved to Alabama, where I attended the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine.

As a future psychiatrist, I anticipate maintaining the utmost respect for the interior landscape of each patient, while offering caring communication, active listening, sharp observational skills, and an in-depth knowledge of today’s neuroscience and pharmacology. Psychiatry is a wonderfully challenging multi-disciplinary field that necessitates creativity, precise judgment, patience, and most important of all — compassion. I am very interested in addiction and integrative psychiatry. In my free time, I enjoy listening to new music, working out, podcasts, and exploring NJ and NY. I am extremely excited and ineffably thankful to be starting my training at Rutgers NJMS, and to be part of the NJMS family.

Prerana Suresh Kurtkoti, MD


My name is Prerana Suresh Kurtkoti and I am a PGY-I resident at Rutgers NJMS. I am from Bangalore, India and have completed my MBBS degree from Vydehi Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Center.  The diseases of the mind which are shrouded in mystery have always held a certain allure to me. Working at the National Institute of Mental Health & Neurosciences, India I saw how the human brain can twist a figment of our imagination into our whole reality and my thirst to understand the mind put me on a journey to become a psychiatrist. It is a specialty where one not only treats patients but also grows as a person. It teaches us how to understand people better, how to handle situations better and how to appreciate the positive aspects of life. I feel I am a better version of me now compared to what I was before I started working in the field of psychiatry. I am really excited and looking forward to experience and learn more about psychiatry and its different specialties, in the next few years.

My current interests in the field of psychiatry are addiction psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry. I believe that the first step to addiction prevention is to protect our
adolescents by spreading awareness, developing a good support system, early
diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses. My other interests outside of psychiatry are dancing, traveling and spending quality time with family and friends.

Yonatan Kaplan, MD


My name is Yonatan Kaplan, I am a PGY-I resident in Psychiatry at NJMS. I grew up in Springfield, New Jersey and did my primary education at Solomon Schechter Day School in West Orange. After high-school I studied Biomedical Engineering for four years at Tulane University in New Orleans and received my BSe. I returned to the Northeast and worked at a nonprofit for two years and finally ended up studying medicine right here at New Jersey Medical School. During my fourth year of medical school I illustrated diagrams published in Psicofarmacologia: Guia Profesionales de la Salud, la Educacion, y la Justicia”, wrote a chapter on the history of the opioid crisis for a book that is in the editing process, and participated in an international psychiatry elective in Madrid.

I’ve probably always been biased towards mental health professions due to my family background. My mother is a psychoanalyst, my father is a psychiatrist, his parents are a neurosurgeon and psychiatrist, and my other grandfather was a neurologist. My brother is starting residency in neurology and I have an uncle who studies neuronal regeneration. 

I am excited to enter the field of psychiatry at a time when stigma against mental health disorders is eroding and innovative modalities for psychiatric interventions are being explored. Outside of my duties I enjoy birdwatching, painting, and practicing karate.

Philip Wong, MD


My name is Philip Wong, and I am a PGY I psychiatry resident at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. Prior to receiving my medical education at Rutgers NJMS, I studied psychology and philosophy at New York University. Born in New Jersey, though raised at my family’s Chinese restaurant – the place where I call “home” and where my passion for mental health and my path to psychiatry began. Through my passionate curiosity, I learned my love and appreciation for each individual’s personal narrative – the stories we tell, not only to others but also to ourselves.