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WELCOME to the 2019 first-year MD-PhD students!

December 05, 2019

It's hard to believe that the 2019 White Coat Ceremony inducting 19 new students to our program was 4 months ago!! They hail from the four corners of the US (including Hawaii and the US Virgin Islands!), representing 5 different non-USA countries of birth, 19 different undergraduate institutions, and 11 different proposed departments of study ranging from Biomedical Engineering to Epidemiology and Public Health to Physiology and Computational Biology.

Brendan Adkinson
Hometown: New Haven, CT
Undergraduate Institution: Marietta College
Major: Biochemistry; Spanish; Student-Designed Neuroscience
Activities/Interests: sports, biking, church, nonprofit leadership, entrepreneurial stuff
Fun fact: I’ve talked to my grandma over the phone nearly every day since I was four years old. She’s one of my closest friends. When I visit, I’m greeted by her thick Southern drawl and the aroma of either biscuits and gravy, peanut butter fudge, or red velvet cake. She’s now age 78, and I have no trouble spotting her among her contemporaries with her bright blonde hair!

Jafar Al Souz
Hometown: Bethesda, MD
Undergraduate Institution: University of California-Irvine
Major: Microbiology & Immunology
Activities/Interests: Hiking, camping, reading
Fun fact: Originally born and raised in Jordan, I immigrated to the United States in 2012. This move caused me to develop a taste for travel and exploration. Since then, I have lived in 4 different major US cities and visited over 25 states. Most recently, I took a solo road trip across the United States, starting from Los Angeles and ending in Washington DC. While traveling, I particularly like to find small-scale, local food places in order to properly experience the city I am in. I also thoroughly enjoy hiking and camping, and aim to visit as many national and state parks as possible.

Jenna Bergmann
Hometown: Haverford, PA
Undergraduate Institution: Barnard College
Major: Cell & Molecular Biology; Classics (Latin)
Activities/Interests: Jewish grad student life, spin classes, sailing & pottery
Fun fact: One of my majors in undergrad was Latin, and for my thesis I wrote about an ancient Roman medical encyclopedia and how it can help us understand metaphors of illness in Roman love poetry.

Joseph Brancale
Hometown: Staten Island, NY
Undergraduate Institution: Harvard University
Major: Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
Activities/Interests: Coffee, Craft Beer, Running
Fun fact: I used to act on children's television shows when I was young, and have since lost all acting ability.

Fuyao Chen
Hometown: Shanghai, China
Undergraduate Institution: Vanderbilt University
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Activities/Interests: Beijing Opera, Cross-talk, Singing, Learning new languages
Fun fact: In my spare time, I enjoy learning different languages and traditional Chinese art forms, such as Beijing Opera and crosstalk. I joined the marching band in my college with no prior knowledge of football. It was a wild experience but a lot of fun!

Maya Deshmukh
Hometown: Bloomfield Hills, MI
Undergraduate Institution: University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Major: Molecular Biology; Fine Arts
Activities/Interests: Ashtanga yoga, training working dogs, structural bio, ob/gyn interest group, sculpture
Fun fact: I completed degrees in Cellular and Molecular Biology and Art and Design (focusing on contemporary and figurative sculpture) at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. During undergrad, I spent a semester doing structural biology research in Professor Adnane Achour's lab at the Karolinska Instiutet in Stockholm. After graduating, I travelled to Israel on a Fulbright research fellowship to study structure-function relationships of functional amyloid-derived peptides and fibril-forming antimicrobial peptides using X-ray microcrystallography in Professor Meytal Landau's lab at the Technion. I currently live in Westville with my two dogs!

Mariana DoCarmo
Hometown: Newark, NJ
Undergraduate Institution: Yale University
Major: Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
Activities/Interests: Branford College Grad Affiliate, Cancer Student Interest Group; trying new foods, watching movies, knitting
Fun fact: I was born in Sesimbra, Portugal and moved to the United States when I was three months old. In high school, I participated in a bioethics research program through which I explored the creation of a donor, or “savior,” child through pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. As a Yale undergraduate, I discovered a passion for pursuing cancer biology research alongside medical training. I spent two years post-graduation investigating cancer drug resistance at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, MA. Outside of science and medicine, I love drawing, reading, jogging, knitting, and trying new types of foods and recipes! A fun fact about myself is that I love donuts, although when I once tried to make them when I was younger, the dough didn’t rise properly and they looked more like cookies than donuts!

Jeffrey Duncan
Hometown: Allston, MA
Undergraduate Institution: Haverford College
Major: Biology
Activities/Interests: running, coffee, and cats.
Fun fact: I'm a passionate track athlete and fan. I once had the opportunity to commentate a professional track meet for a sports media company!

Chelesa Fearce
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Undergraduate Institution: Spelman College
Major: Biochemistry
Activities/Interests: MSC Vice President, Y2Y, Vox Kids Volunteer, Committee on Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice (CDISJ)
Fun fact: I go to the movies at least twice a month. My favorite author is Stephen King. I actually find his books/movies as funny.

Kevin Givechian
Hometown: Irvine, CA
Undergraduate Institution: University of Southern California
Major: Molecular Biology
Activities/Interests: Breaking Sid Tyagi's ankles during pick-up basketball.
Fun fact: I grew up in Southern California and graduated from USC. I spent a few years doing computational cancer genomics research which eventually guided me to the interface of genomics and tumor immunology. I am currently interested in the intersection of cancer biology, immunology, and machine learning and how to translate these insights to improve and/or develop novel treatment options for cancer patients. Outside of research and medicine, I spend my time playing soccer on the club team here at Yale, playing pick-up basketball with classmates, and eating (probably too many) chocolate chip cookies.

Ilhan Gokhan
Hometown: New York, NY
Undergraduate Institution: Duke University
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Activities/Interests: Healer's Art, piano, biking, seeing concerts/shows
Fun fact: During college, I camped out in a tent for two months to see the Duke-UNC basketball game!

Kerrie Greene
Hometown: Alpharetta, GA
Undergraduate Institution: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Major: Biological Engineering; Brain & Cognitive Science
Activities/Interests: Music + coffee
Fun fact: I've trained at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO for volleyball!

Ann Johnson
Hometown: Columbus, GA
Undergraduate Institution: Georgia Institute of Technology
Major: Biology
Activities/Interests: Backpacking, Patient Navigating, Neighborhood Health Project, reading science fiction, ice climbing ?? (coming soon)
Fun fact: I love to do all things outdoors, and I aspire to train my cat to rock climb with me!

Samuel Liburd
Hometown: Cruz Bay, VI
Undergraduate Institution: University of the Virgin Islands
Major: Biology
Activities/Interests: Guitar, Video Games, Netflix, HPREP, Anatomy Teaching Program, Shadowing transplants
Fun fact: I was born and raised in the US Virgin Islands which I suppose is a fun fact in and of itself. I enjoy playing the guitar and having deep conversations with friends. Over the past few years I have learned how to play tennis and how to fence. As my undergrad institution was really big on marine biology research, I also learned how to swim and snorkel and have gone snorkeling through, in my biased opinion, some of the nicest coral reefs in the world.

Charles Robins
Hometown: Tallahassee, FL
Undergraduate Institution: Florida State University
Major: Biomedical-Chemical Engineering
Activities/Interests: Golf, hiking and the outdoors, working out, video games
Fun fact: I was born and raised throughout Florida (born in Tallahassee, grew up in south Florida in Naples and south Miami), and have been moving north since college. I researched at the Wistar Institute for a summer and I worked as a postbac research intern at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer before Yale. I played golf growing up and played in the US Kids Tour in Florida. I enjoy the serenity of the outdoors, to hike, hammock, and kayak.

Anush Swaminathan
Hometown: Monroe Township, NJ
Undergraduate Institution: Boston University
Major: Biology; Philosophy
Activities/Interests: Stand-up comedy, music, eating, going to research talks, keeping 100 feet away from the gym at all times, taking photographs on a potato
Fun fact: I love traveling, (I have traveled to 16 countries!) listening to classic rock music, and pursuing my passion for stand-up comedy.

Sidharth Tyagi
Hometown: Aurora, CO
Undergraduate Institution: University of Colorado at Boulder
Major: Integrative Physiology; Biochemistry
Activities/Interests: Playing basketball, attempting bar trivia, taking weekend trips to NYC and Boston
Fun fact: I'm on a mission to eat at every restaurant in New Haven! As you may have heard, New Haven has one of the highest restaurant-per-capita ratios in the U.S. If anyone else wants to join me in spending their hard-earned stipend, please hit me up!

Michael Vetick
Hometown: East Windsor, NJ
Undergraduate Institution: Rutgers University - New Brunswick
Major: Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
Activities/Interests: Hiking and Piano
Fun fact: Outside of my scientific and medical endeavors, I have owned/driven 10 different cars in my life. I got my license when I was 17 (now 24) and grew up in a family of tradesmen. To save money on a car payment, I learned how do my automotive repairs myself. My first car was a 2001 Pontiac Aztek, which if you haven’t seen it, has been voted the ugliest car in the universe by several car magazines, haha. As you may suspect, I failed to win the “Best Car” superlative in my high school. However, the Aztek is now considered by many (myself included) a cool car. Popularized by the great TV show, Breaking Bad, Walter White drives this car and has turned it into the bat-mobile of the under-appreciated scientist. Although my Aztek is long gone, I still love SUV’s and enjoy taking my wife and dog off-roading and hiking.

Deanne Yugawa
Hometown: Kaneohe, HI
Undergraduate Institution: The University of Utah
Major: Economics; Biology
Activities/Interests: Traveling (mostly to Japan), binging Parks and Rec, playing board games, and eating New Haven Pizza
Fun fact: I didn't see snow until I went to college, but ended up living in a place where it snowed so much it couldn't even be plowed away!

Submitted by Reiko Fitzsimonds on December 05, 2019