PGY – IV Residents
Chun Tong, MD
My name is Chun and I am a PGY-IV 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.
Diego Garces Grosse, MD
My name is Diego Garces and I am a PGY IV 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.
Heather Wurtz, MD
My name is Heather Wurtz and I am a PGY IV 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 and was excited to work with the excellent faculty and staff in the NJMS Psychiatry Department. I feel lucky to be able to continue to learn from them as a resident. 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. During residency I have been involved in our own Urban Mental Health Conference, have a number of accepted posters to APA, and have co-written a chapter for a book about The Technological Addictions which is planned for publication in this coming academic year.
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.
Muhammad Aadil, MD
My name is Muhammad Aadil and I am a PGY IV 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-IV 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 in 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.
Faisal Kagadkar, MD
My name is Faisal Kagadkar and I am a PGY IV resident. I was born and spent my early childhood in Saudi Arabia, and moved to India when I was 9. I was schooled in Mumbai and attended medical school at Terna Medical College, Navi Mumbai. I was drawn towards the field of psychiatry during medical school as it offered me the unique opportunity of connecting with patients, understanding them as a whole and helping them on their individual journeys.
In my final year of medical school, I traveled to the US to further explore psychiatry. The clinical experiences I gained here consolidated my interest in psychiatry and kindled a desire to pursue a residency in psychiatry. And thus began a beautiful journey that took me across the US offering me multiple clinical and research opportunities and culminating here at Rutgers NJMS!
I hold interests in child-adolescent psychiatry, forensic psychiatry, research and advocacy. When not at the hospital, you will find me watching soccer(or playing Pro Evolution), biking, or spending time with friends and family.
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!
Aitzaz Munir, MD
Hi, I am Aitzaz Munir and I am a PGY IV 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 addiction psychiatry as well as 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.
PGY – III Residents
Donya Nazery, DO
My name is Donya and I'm a PGY-III Psychiatry resident at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. I developed a strong interest in all things brain, mind, and human psychology, early in my college career. Following this curiosity, I completed my Bachelors in Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior with a Minored in Psychology at the University of California, Davis. While there, I got involved in Autism research at the neurocognitive lab and the MIND institute, studying functional MRIs of adolescents on the autism spectrum. This experience ignited a passion in me to pursue a career in psychiatry. I moved to New York to complete medical school at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, where I graduated with high honors and was the recipient of multiple awards including the Gold Humanism Society Award.
During my time here at Rutgers NJMS, I've been afforded many opportunities to thrive and excel both professionally and personally. Of note, I was invited to speak at the 2019 Urban Mental Health on social media addiction. I co-authored a chapter in the textbook "The Technological Addictions" published by the APA in 2020. I've co-founded a psychiatry interest group called "Wine, coffee, psychiatry" and serve as a GME wellness subcommittee member as well as a resident union delegate. I was granted the GME resident recognition award in 2020 for my work on creating a virtual resident wellness platform at the peak of the Pandemic. I was offered to participate on a research project relating to frontliner wellness during the pandemic, funded by the Department of Defense (DOD). In 2021, I was honored with the Excellent Resident of the Year award.
I am beyond grateful to have the privilege of practicing psychiatry as a profession and continue to be humbled by how much I have yet to learn. Psychiatry combines my love of science and the betterment of the human condition. I'm interested in a holistic approach to psychiatry with focus not only on treating disease but optimizing mental health through means of proper nutrition, exercise, sleep, and mindfulness. In the future, I see myself practicing holistic psychiatry in an outpatient setting working with interdisciplinary group of colleagues.
Outside of work, you will find me cooking with my husband, enjoying a day out with friends in Jersey City, or tending to my ever-growing collection of tropical houseplants.
Ana Claudia Zacarkim, MD
My name is Ana Claudia and I am a PGY-III 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 fiancé have always been my fortress and my greatest support, 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 Cignarella, MD
Hello! My name is Andrea Guerrero and I am a PGY-III 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-III 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. 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 III resident in Psychiatry 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. My experience at Rutgers psychiatry program has been wonderful. Working at the different clinical sites exposed me to different patient populations and work environments. I have also had the opportunity to explore my potential in teaching and research at this program. I am really excited and looking forward to learning more about psychiatry and its different specialties in the next few years. My current interest in the field of psychiatry is Consultation Liaison Psychiatry. My other interests outside of psychiatry are dancing, cooking, traveling and spending quality time with family and friends.
Yonatan Kaplan, MD
My name is Yonatan Kaplan, I am a PGY III 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 been fortunate to be given every opportunity for professional development and to explore my interests through the psychiatry department. My three main areas of focus are teaching, nature therapies, and child and adolescent psychiatry. I have been heavily involved in medical student and community education, serving as a resident course lead the medical school psychiatric curriculum. I am co-editing an upcoming textbook on Nature Therapy to be published by the APA in 2022.
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 III 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.
PGY – II Residents
Mary-Anne Hennen, MD
Hey, my name is Mary-Anne and I'm a PGY-2 psychiatry resident at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, and an alumni of the same. I'm a Central (yes Central NJ is real) Jersey girl, born and raised, and attended Rutgers in New Brunswick for my undergrad, where I got involved in pre-med summer programs at NJMS as an undergrad freshman, and that's where my relationship with NJMS began and since then it's always held a special place in my heart. I have several interests within psychiatry, including academia, consultation-liaison, and child & adolescent psychiatry.
I'm so grateful to be able to learn and train here at my beloved home program, and in my free time I enjoy painting, sketching, training/playing with my dog Lula, and playing Nintendo switch with my friends and family. I'm also a fan of the true crime genre, and love watching documentaries and listening to podcasts like "Dr. Death," "Serial," "Up and Vanished," "MFM," and "The Shrink Next Door," just to name a few!
Saatchi Patell, MD
I'm a Southern California native who grew up in Los Angeles. I've spent most of my adult life in San Diego, where I attended UC San Diego School of Medicine. I enjoy working with older patients and am particularly interested in the unique challenges patients who remain in the family home as they age face. I enjoy exploring the evolving family dynamics and relationships that come with aging. I appreciate hearing the incredible stories patients collect over the years and having the opportunity to ask "what's next?" to a group of people who aren't asked about their future plans often. In my free time, I enjoy gardening, photography, being outdoors in the sun and of course, spending time with loved ones.
Eve Rosenheck, MD
Hello! My name is Eve and I am a PGY II psychiatry resident at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. I grew up in central New Jersey and completed my medical education at Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
My interest in human thought and behavior flourished while studying biological psychology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. While a student, I also had the opportunity to conduct research on disparities in mental healthcare utilization among college students of different ethnicities across the United States.
I discovered my love for psychiatry while in medical school. Of many reasons, I found that the field demands the use of both the science of medicine and the art of conversation to best serve patients and their families. My interests within psychiatry include mood and psychotic disorders, as well as the complex relationship between chronic pain and mental illness. My current career goal is to pursue child and adolescent psychiatry and ultimately work in an outpatient clinic. However, I remain interested in exploring many potential career paths during my training at NJMS. I am very thankful for the opportunity to pursue my training here. Outside of the hospital, I enjoy reading, singing, playing animal crossing, and spending time with those I love.
Kishan Shah, MD
Hello! My name is Kishan, and I am a PGY-II resident at Rutgers NJMS. I am from Hamilton, a suburban town in Central Jersey, where I grew up playing soccer (huge Messi fan) and ping-pong for as long as I can remember. I graduated as valedictorian of Steinert High School and enrolled in a 7-year med program at NJIT, where I completed a bachelors in Biology and concentration in Neurobiology. I was interested in the holistic nature of Psychiatry from the onset of medical school; I devoted my first summer visiting urban housing complexes in Newark in interdisciplinary teams to provide mental health screenings and my second year working on a residency wellness study. During my third year, our class was fortunate enough to become certified in Medication Assisted Treatment. I used this opportunity to gain experience rotating in the Suboxone Clinic, Inpatient Addiction Medicine, and residential rehabilitation centers in Newark, where I was able to see various modalities of therapy being used to treat both the physical and psychological effects of opioid addiction. Seeing this process of recovery from start to finish gave me a sincere appreciation for the crucial balance at play between psychotherapy and psychopharmacology found in Psychiatry and transformed my preconception of what it meant to treat a patient with addiction.
I am so grateful to have matched at my home program for residency, and I look forward to continuing to serve a culturally diverse patient population with many wonderful opportunities for community engagement. As I prepare myself for the next phase in my career, I intend to continue being a voice for those most vulnerable by helping reduce mental health stigma within our society, especially within my own South Asian community. My interests going forward include Addiction Psychiatry, Forensic Psychiatry, and Academic Medicine.
Bellanirys Acosta Arias, MD
Hello, My name is Bellanirys Acosta, and I'm a PGY-II resident at Rutgers NJMS. I was born and raised in the Dominican Republic. Daughter of two doctors. I completed medical school at Universidad Iberoamericana (UNIBE). Prior to residency training, I was working as a visiting research fellow for Yale University in New Haven, CT for the department of Psychiatry. Specifically at the Learning-Based Recovery Center Division. I was involved in different research projects as part of an innovative field known as "digital neurotherapeutics" which involved the improvement of the cognitive skills with the Use of Computer Games in Elderly patients and patients with mild cognitive impairment related to alcohol use.
I also volunteered part-time for IMANI breakthrough recovery program which aims to reach minority populations in non-clinical settings in order to help in the process of recovery in Substance Use Disorder, this experience made me aware of mental health disparities around the latino and african-american communities. The most important thing in my life is my family. My interests in the field go towards addiction psychiatry. During my free time I love to read, cook, play tennis and rewatch the office for the 700 time.
Memphis Diaz Garcia, MD
Hello, my name is Memphis Diaz Garcia, and I am a new PGY II resident coming from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. I was born in the Dominican Republic in the early 90's. My mother, older sister and I followed my father to the United States soon after, in the search for better opportunities. My father worked hard to get us into the "nicest" neighborhood possible in South Philadelphia. His hard work paid off, as I was able to spend the majority of my formative years in public "magnet" schools. This allowed me to put my foot in the door, propping it open to enter Brown University for my undergraduate education. It was there where I learned that I do not really like numbers so much as I liked talking with others, learning from their perspectives/experiences and applying those lenses to re-framing and communicating the world around me. Therefore, I ended up changing my concentration from pure/theoretical mathematics to anthropology. Through my concentration, I realized that the embarrassingly many hours I spent watching anime —which I still do— and talking to almost anyone was never a waste of time, there were always new lenses through which to view the world. Maybe this aspect of my undergraduate education was the reason why I gravitated towards psychiatry during my medical education.
I knew that I wanted to pursue medicine as a future career. Once I was given the honor to learn through the underserved populations of Newark at NJMS, I did not have a clue what path I wanted to take. I knew I definitely still enjoyed watching anime and I picked up cooking and ballroom dancing. Still, I was confused and almost lost my passion. It was when I was exposed to psychiatry during an elective in my third year that I realized my future career goals. Personally, I feel that psychiatry is a field that relies on the psychological and social aspects of pathology in addition to the biological aspects that are over-reinforced in our general medical education. These aspects seemed even more important in the care of the surrounding communities of Newark. My introduction to psychiatry aligned very well with my background in anthropology, which has brought me to where I am today. Currently, I do not have any plans set in stone regarding what field within psychiatry I want to pursue, but I am interested in women's health, addiction and child and adolescent psychiatry. Ultimately, in the distant future, I want to somehow return to my studies in medical and cultural anthropology to study the varying cultural perspectives of mental illness and their impact on psychiatric care.
Utku Kucuker, MD
Hi! My name is Utku Kucuker and I am a PGY II psychiatry resident. I grew up and finished medical school in Turkey. Starting from the early years in medical school, psychiatry had fascinated me as I have seen psychiatric disorders as a gate to understand long-awaiting-to-be-explored concepts such as self and mind. Additionally, subjective experiences of patients and their stories seemed as an essential part of providing health care. All these have drifted me to choose psychiatry as a field. Being open to both traditional psychiatry and exposure to practice and research of modern psychiatry, my aim is to reconcile these two approaches to understand human mind and treat psychiatric disorders. I am looking forward to work with my colleagues to reach this aim and improve patient care. I also believe in the importance of education and cannot wait to share my knowledge and develop educational skills in an interactive teaching environment.
I enjoy almost all sorts of sports from chess to basketball. One of my aims for the next year includes beating the chess masters in Washington Square Park (NYC)-wish me good luck on this one. I also enjoy watching and discovering new sitcoms with a preference of dark comedies: some of which are indeed dramas that make you laugh couple of times.
PGY – I Residents
Sezai Ustun Aydin, MD
Hi! I am Ustun, a PGY-I resident at Rutgers NJMS. I am from Turkey where I also completed my medical training and child psychiatry residency (at Pamukkale University) before my residency training at Rutgers NJMS.
I remember seeing my first psychiatry case report -very complex behavioral problems for me as a med student at that time-, and how a team of psychiatrists and psychologists were able to explain the mechanisms underlying these behaviors. I have shadowed cardiac and brain surgeries, but nothing fascinated me more than this case. Treating not only as a biological being but as a whole person with their unique set of needs, desires, fears, strengths, and shortcomings, as well as social and cultural aspects, introduced me to a new approach. Even with similar symptoms, every patient is a unique individual with their own story. I believe this makes psychiatry a field of medicine where treatment is tailored, and medicine meets art.
I am interested in children and adolescent psychiatry, psychodynamic and cognitive-behavioral therapies, mindfulness, and technology's impact on young developing minds. Outside the hospital, I enjoy yoga, jogging, and hanging with friends. Ah, did I forget to mention that I am an avid video gamer?
Cristiana Nicoli de Mattos, MD, PhD
My name is Cristiana Nicoli de Mattos and I am a PGY-I Psychiatry Resident at Rutgers NJMS. I grew up in Brazil and attended medical school at the University of São Paulo.
Early in my medical training, I got fascinated with mental health. I love the fact that Psychiatry is at the same time intellectually stimulating, has a holistic approach to the patient, and has space for different ways of expression such as art (I am someone who always found painting and drawing as a good way of expressing myself).
After finishing medical school I completed my residency in General Psychiatry and received a Ph.D. at the University of São Paulo. In 2017, life circumstances took me to the United States. Since I could not imagine my life without practicing Psychiatry, I decided to apply to Psychiatry Residency Program once again. Rutgers-NJMS will provide me with all the resources and encouragement to be a well-rounded psychiatrist while being able to continue doing research.
In my free time I enjoy drawing and painting, spending time with my pets, gardening, cooking and hiking.
Stephanie Ruthberg, MD, MS
Hello! My name is Stephanie, and I am a PGY-I resident at Rutgers NJMS. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, but my extended family has always been here in the tristate area. I graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, where I studied psychology, international studies, and fine art. After working in the fashion industry in NYC, I decided to instead integrate my interest in non-verbal communication, pattern-recognition, and problem-solving with my other longstanding interests in mental and physical health within the world of medicine. I first completed the Columbia Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program and an M.S. in nutrition at Columbia College of Physicians & Surgeons before coming to Rutgers NJMS for medical school, and I am thrilled to be training at my home program.
What I love most about psychiatry is hearing peoples' stories and being able to help others through vulnerable times. My psychiatry interests include child/adolescent, psychosomatic conditions, trauma, integrative psychiatry, CL psychiatry, psychotherapy, and addiction. I envision my future career as one that combines both inpatient and outpatient work where I can serve a diverse patient population through treatment and advocacy. In my free time, I enjoy cooking, drawing, yoga, travel, and playing with my two dogs.
Hojun "Phillip" Yoo, MD
Hi! My name is Hojun "Phillip" Yoo. I am a PGY-I psychiatry resident at NJMS. I was born in Seoul, Korea, and moved to the States when I was 8. I initially lived in Fort Lee, moved to Cresskill, and went to elementary and middle school there, then went to high school at the Academy for Business and Finance at the Bergen County Academies. While there, I found that I had zero interest in business and finance, and I was faced with the central question of "What makes a life worth living?" Professionally, I felt that one of the most reasonable answers to this was a profession that helped others to live their lives - medicine. I then attended Case Western Reserve University, receiving a Bachelor's degree in Chemical Biology with a minor in English Literature.
I have been extremely lucky to have had incredible mentors throughout my life. One such person is Dr. Nicolas Ahn, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at CWRU medical school. With his guidance, I was able to be a part of multiple journal publications, and whenever I had any hardships, Dr. Ahn was a supportive presence, always encouraging me to continue my pursuit of medicine. Another was Dr. Insoo Hyun, Ph.D, a bioethicist. Under his tutelage, I ended up pursuing a Master's degree in bioethics. These two mentors have had the greatest impact on the way I think about medicine and approach patient care, and I try to acknowledge their support whenever possible.
I went to NJMS for medical school. Initially, I had no interest in psychiatry. However, I found psychiatry exciting, particularly in the emergency and consult-liason settings. I found that psychiatry was a great intersection between medicine, bioethics, and the humanities. My current interests lie in crisis/psychiatric emergency services, psycho-oncology, and palliative psychiatry.
For fun, I enjoy kendo and messing around with my kendo equipment, powerlifting, and fidgeting with my fountain pens.
Nikith Shekar, DO
Hello! My name is Nick Shekar and I am a PGY-I resident at Rutgers NJMS. I was born and raised in central New Jersey, and am excited to return back home for residency. I attended undergrad at the University of Maryland, where I studied Physiology and Neurobiology with a minor in Spanish. While in college, I joined a research lab studying social anxiety in adolescents. I spent a year before medical school working as a medical scribe in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, where my interest in psychiatry heightened. I attended medical school at NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine in Long Island, NY. I spent the summer after my first year of medical school in a clinical research lab studying novel treatments for Alzheimers Disease and Major Depressive Disorder.
I decided to pursue a career in psychiatry because I am passionate about mental health and specifically lowering the stigma of mental health care for underrepresented communities. On clinical rotations in psychiatry, I loved the balance of talking to patients and getting to know their stories, while also thinking about psychopharmacology and other interventions that could improve their overall well-being. I have a strong interest in sports psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry, and neuromodulation techniques such as TMS.
In my free time, I love playing basketball, swimming, cooking, and listening to hip-hop music (huge Drake fan)! I am a passionate Philadelphia sports fan, and my favorite sports to watch are basketball and football.
Celena Ma, MD
Hi my name is Celena and I'm a PGY-I psychiatry resident at Rutgers NJMS. I was born in Los Angeles, CA but grew up mostly in northern NJ. I went to Tufts for college and stayed in Boston post-graduation working at MGH researching GABA receptors. I attended medical school at Rutgers NJMS and I'm excited to continue serving our diverse patient population here as a resident. I'm passionate about the normalization of mental health and learning how to be the best advocate for my patients. I see myself taking over my mom's outpatient psychiatric practice, but my plans may change depending on how my interests evolve with my training. Some of my current interests include consult-liaison, perinatal psychiatry, and child/adolescent psychiatry. In my free time, I enjoy watching anime, playing Clash Royale, reading, hiking, and spending time with family/friends.