Meet Our Residents!

The residents, by far, are the best part of our residency program.  The environment is supportive and collegial.  Residents also spend time together outside of work enjoying such activities as annual weekend retreats (often at the beautiful NC coast), Durham Bulls baseball games, UNC sporting events, attending-sponsored resident appreciation dinners and listening to bluegrass at "Fridays on the Front Porch" at the Carolina Inn. We are also proud to field a team in the UNC employee softball league endearingly called Failure to Thrive.

First Years

Bios and photos coming soon!
Nora Ali, MD - Mayo Medical School
Chris Cummings, MD, PhD - University of Colorado School of Medicine
Paige Dudley, MD, MS - East Tennessee State University James H. Quillen College of Medicine
Blaire Hanvey, MD - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine
Kirabo Herbert, MD - University of Virginia School of Medicine
Joelle Kane, MD - Florida State University College of Medicine 
Laura Lemley, MD - Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University
Hillary Liken, MD - University of Virginia School of Medicine
Andy Liu, MD, MS - University of Vermont College of Medicine
Pamela Londres, MD - University of Florida College of Medicine
Caroline Newman, MD - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine
Brooke Prestridge, MD - University of Florida College of Medicine
Sarah Rice, MD - Emory University School of Medicine 
Derica Sams, MD - Morehouse School of Medicine
Amreen Sitabkhan, MD - University of Texas School of Medicine at San Antonio
Bobby Slater, MD - University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
Tiffany St. Clair, MD - Ohio State University College of Medicine
Anne Steptoe, MD, MBA - The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University
Stephanie Toder, MD - University of Virginia School of Medicine
Alex Turek, MD - Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine
Sonia Varghese, MD, MPH, MBA - American University of Antigua College of Medicine
Liz Willis, DO - Campbell University Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine


Ammons Katelyn Ammons, MD, MS - Katelyn majored in Biology at Bowling Green State University and received her MS and MD degrees from the University of Toledo College of Medicine.  She chose to leave her native Ohio for UNC because of the amazing people and Chapel Hill is a beautiful place to live - she's an outdoor person so loves that the warmer weather will allow her to do her favorite activities outside all year long.  These activities include running, kayaking, tennis, hiking and road cycling.  Katelyn is a dog lover and her favorite candy is Sour Patch Kids.  
Beg Amber Beg, MD - Though Amber was born and raised in Crimson Tide country, she is a Tar Heel, graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in Biology. She earned her MD from the University of Alabama School of Medicine. Amber chose to return "home" for residency training because she was happy to see that the culture of public service that she loved so much as an undergrad is very much a part of the pediatric residency program. Amber enjoys hiking, reading, traveling to new places and meeting new people and Carolina Basketball - GO HEELS!
Blount Tom Blount, MD - Tom is originally from Colorado.  He graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in Spanish - and two NCAA titles with the Men's Basketball team - go Bears!  He earned his MD from the University of Nebraska School of Medicine.  Tom enjoys basketball, fishing, cooking, biking, water-skiing and traveling.  If Tom could be any musician, he would be Bruce Springsteen.
Cholera Rushina Cholera, MD, PhD - Rushina completed her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Richmond.  After briefly considering a career as a biochemist she found her passion for medicine and global public health. She spent a year at the Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research at the NIH and then headed south to Tar Heel country for her MD/PhD education at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. She earned her PhD in Infectious Disease Epidemiology, studying psychosocial barriers to care among HIV-infected people in South Africa. Rushina chose to stay at UNC for residency because of the the warmth and enthusiasm of the residents and faculty, the incredible supportive training environment, and the world-class clinical training paired with strong research collaborations with the UNC Gillings School of Public Health. In her spare time Rushina enjoys gardening, vegetarian cooking, and spending time in the beautiful NC mountains with her husband, toddler son, and 2 dogs.
Das Nikkan Das, MD - Nikkan graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Biomedical Engineering and received her MD from Weill Cornell Medical College.  She chose to come to UNC because of the well-balanced training - a focus on primary care with the opportunity to see a multitude of subspecialties.  She also wanted the experience of practicing in community hospitals in addition to an academic medical center.  Nikkan is a major foodie and loves to sing and play guitar.  She is currently learning to play the ukulele.  
Flygt LeeAnne Flygt, MD, MAT - LeeAnne was born and raised in Madison, WI.  She majored in French and Biology at the University of Wisconsin - Madison; received her MA from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; and earned her MD from the University of Michigan Medical School.  LeeAnne chose to come to UNC because it is a strong academic program with a family feel - everyone is so friendly and welcoming.  LeeAnne enjoys the outdoors - running, kayaking, hiking, swimming - all of which are easy to do in NC (Chapel Hill is a great location right between the mountains and the beach).  She also enjoys crafting and decorating her new home.
Frye Endya Frye, MD - Endya is happy to call NC home! She graduated from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (Aggie Pride!) with a degree in Biology and received her MD from The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. Endya knew after attending Carolina's First Look she felt destined to be at UNC and was only confirmed on interview day by the warm family atmosphere. She ultimately chose to come to UNC for three reasons: it was THE program where she felt at home, the commitment to diversity, and opportunity for training in the Primary Care Program to pursue her dream of becoming a primary care doc. In her free time, she loves spending time with her family and friends, traveling, watching movies and trying out new restaurants...a foodie in the making!
Gebremeskel Roman Melvin, MD - Roman was born in Finland, grew up in Toronto, and her family now calls Greenville, NC home.  She received her MD from Meharry Medical College.  Roman knew she loved Chapel Hill after attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for undergrad and had already thought about returning "home" for residency, and the interview day solidified that decision for her - the faculty and residents were friendly and welcoming and made it very clear that they were invested in making it a great experience for everyone involved.  Roman enjoys traveling, reading, Netflix, HGTV, and most importantly, Carolina Basketball - GO HEELS!   
Hilzendager Ashley Hilzendager, MD - Ashley received her undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences from Virginia Tech - Go Hokies!!  She attended the University of Virginia School of Medicine for medical school.  Ashley chose UNC because of her incredible interview day experience - the residents and faculty were warm and welcoming, and she could tell there was a real emphasis on both teaching and resident well-being.  She enjoys running, yoga, cooking, traveling, and spending time outdoors.  Ashley is also a big fan of Starbucks, Chick-Fil-A and Chipotle.
CLawrence Christian Lawrence, MD - Christian is a graduate of North Carolina State University where he majored in Biochemistry. After going to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine for medical school, he knew that he loved the environment so it was pretty easy for him to decide to stay for residency training - the residents and faculty are fantastic people.  Christian can play the trumpet, baritone and tuba.  His favorite sports teams are the Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Hornets, Cincinnati Bengals, and, of course, all teams NC State - Go Wolfpack!      
Leviste Miles Leviste, MD, MS - Miles graduated from the University of Virginia with a BA in Anthropology.  He received his MS and MD degrees from Eastern Virginia Medical School.  Miles chose to come to UNC because he was impressed with the people on his interview day - residents that care about each other and faculty that are passionate about teaching...and the Chapel Hill/Durham area has such a wonderful charm - a place that you can call a second home!  Miles' interests include weight lifting, swimming, racquetball, trying local breweries, comic books and baking.  He also loves watching football - especially the NY Giants.  
Kepke Melissa Moore, MD - Melissa was born in Colorado but has spent most of her life in North Carolina.  She majored in Spanish and Biology at Wake Forest University and attended medical school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.  She chose to remain at UNC because the resident and attending physicians are kind and effective teachers - they truly care about their patients and enjoy working together.  Melissa enjoys backpacking, baking chocolate chip cookies and writing handwritten letters.
Okonye Jeffrey Okonye, MD - Jeffrey is a native of Houston, TX.  He majored in Neuroscience at the University of Texas at Dallas and received his MD from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Southwestern Medical School.  Jeffrey chose UNC because everyone was very welcoming and happy to be at UNC - it also seemed like a great family environment that would provide an opportunity to receive spectacular training.  He loves playing basketball, watching sports, and listening to music. Jeffrey also enjoys cooking and will try any recipe (as long as it takes less than 30 minutes).
Painter Alana Painter, MD - Alana majored in Nutrition at The Ohio State University and received her MD from the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine.  She chose to come to UNC because it had every attribute she was looking for in a residency program: friendly residents who work together as a team, residents who feel supported, ample opportunity for research, and availability of all pediatric subspecialties.  Alana loves running, cooking and baking, HGTV (she wants to be BFFs with Chip and Jo), watching sports - especially Ohio State football - Go Buckeyes!
Reddy Reshma Reddy, MD, MS - Reshma grew up near Atlanta, GA.  She received her MS in Biomedical Sciences from George Mason University and attended the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University for medical school.  Reshma went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for undergrad and could not wait to come back for residency!  She appreciated the supportive atmosphere and was also very excited about the diverse training opportunities offered by the Primary Care Residency.  Reshma enjoys traveling, hiking, reading, eating donuts, anything Lord of the Rings, and of course, Carolina basketball - GO HEELS!  
Sanders Sara Sanders, MD -  Sara received her medical degree from the University of Louisville School of Medicine.  She chose to come to UNC because she felt she could get the full spectrum of training combined with a supportive, positive culture - she knew UNC would prepare her well for the next stages of her career.  Sara majored in Music at Centre College and still enjoys singing in her spare time.  She also enjoys traveling (been to 5 continents), Netflixing, hiking, and exploring the area - the beautiful greenery reminds her of her home state, Kentucky.
Sawyer Tarshree Sawyer, MD, MPH, MS - Tarshree majored in Biology at Bowling Green State University and received her MPH and MD from the University of Toledo College of Medicine.  She enjoys traveling and exploring new places, shopping, the occasional Netflix binge, and dancing.  Tarshree attended Carolina's First Look during medical school and fell in love with the program.  She was amazed by the friendly atmosphere, amount of diversity, and the focus on primary care.  As a native of Cleveland, OH, she endured many winters - NC's warmer climate was also a draw.
Shannon Sean Shannon, MD - Sean is the proud product of US Air Force veteran parents, living all over the place growing up, but now calls Louisville, KY home. He double majored in Biology and Chemistry at Western Kentucky University and attended the University of Louisville School of Medicine for medical school.  He chose UNC because the people were beyond welcoming, the training is top notch, and the area is beautiful - it also helped that his wife agreed Chapel Hill was her favorite.  As a recovering competitive swimmer, even the smell of chlorine still gives him a little anxiety.
Verma Bianca Verma, MD, MPH - Bianca grew up in Syracuse, NY. She majored in Social Anthropology and Health Policy at Harvard University and there, she also received her MPH degree. Bianca is a graduate of the University of Michigan Medical School. She chose UNC for residency because of the faculty's love of teaching and the laid back, but autonomous and capable, residents. Bianca loves to travel - the most adventurous thing she's done is whitewater raft down the Nile the summer she lived and worked in Uganda. To stay centered, she enjoys yoga, biking, hiking, live music, cooking and baking, binging on Netflix, listening to podcasts and reading novels - if you're ever looking for book recommendations, let her know!
Weinberg Steven Weinberg, MD - Steven attended the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) for both undergraduate (Economics) and medical school.  Steven was sold on UNC after his interview day: "I admired how cohesive the residents were. It was clear that the culture at UNC is welcoming and supportive".  He enjoys live music, swimming, art history, cooking Ethiopian food and golf.  Prior to moving to Chapel Hill, Steven had only lived in two places, Ann Arbor and Addis Ababa.


Elyse Barnett, MD - Elyse graduated from Duke University with a degree in Evolutionary Anthropology.  She attended medical school at Wake Forest School of Medicine of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.  Elyse chose UNC because she immediately knew that she was surrounded by kind, thoughtful, intelligent people in a supportive environment that would enable her to grow into the best doctor she can possibly be.  She enjoys traveling, photography, hiking, running, getting lost in a good book and her Blue Devils!
Lauren Bradford, MD - Lauren was born and raised in Charlotte, NC but for the last nine years, she has called Chapel Hill home, attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for both undergraduate and medical school.  She chose to remain at UNC because she couldn't see herself being happier anywhere else - the people are inspiring, motivated, dedicated, and compassionate...everyone is all about learning, teaching, and doing the best for their patients!  As a third generation Tar Heel, Lauren was raised on Carolina Basketball - GO HEELS!  She loves being outdoors and has a huge sweet tooth - she's yet to meet a cupcake she didn't like.
Erica Brenner, MD - Erica graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in Biochemistry.  She received her medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University.  She chose UNC because of the friendly, well-rounded residents and faculty, the program's strong reputation, the excellent location (near both the mountains and the beach), and most importantly, the amazing Ultimate Frisbee scene.  Erica enjoys hiking, camping, biking, and drawing, and recently competed in her first triathlon.
Kyle Cecil, MD - Kyle graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Biology.  For medical school, he attended Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.  Kyle has gone on multiple mission trips, including teaching English in Ecuador and volunteering in orphanages in Ghana.  In his spare time, he enjoys running, cooking, gardening, DIY projects and board games.  His favorite television show of all time is "Friends".  Kyle and his wife are proud parents to a toddler-age son.
Hannah Chesser, MD - Hannah is a native Texan, growing up in Houston.  She went to the University of Texas at Austin for undergrad and received her MD from the University of Texas School of Medicine at San Antonio.  She enjoys taking day trips, traveling (has visited all 48 contiguous states), being outdoors and searching for delicious food.  Hannah chose to come to UNC because of her interview day experience - everyone seemed so friendly and inviting.  She also loved the location - full of pine trees, close to both the beach and the mountains.
Adriana Cline, MD - Adriana completed her undergraduate degree and medical school at West Virginia University - let's go Mountaineers!!  She chose UNC because she was looking for a top notch academic pediatrics program that also was proud of their close knit community and family atmosphere - UNC offered the best of both worlds!  Also, Adriana and her husband participated in the couples match and both were excited at the idea of exploring a new area during their residencies.  In her spare time, Adriana loves to cook and bake, go to the beach, knit, read and play the piano.  She is one of our rising Chief Residents.
Paige Darnell, MD - Paige attended the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology for undergraduate school and Indiana University School of Medicine for medical school.  Despite living in Indiana her entire life, Paige was raised a Tar Heel - when it came time to apply for a residency, looking into UNC was a no-brainer...she loved the opportunities provided in the Primary Care Residency, the global health experiences, and of course, the people are great, too!  Paige enjoys mission work and has spent some time living in both Bolivia and Mexico.
Sara Duffus, MD - Sara is a graduate of Sewanee: The University of the South and Wake Forest University School of Medicine.  She is quite the adventurer having hiked 300 miles of the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage through Northern Spain, and canoeing 83 miles on the Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park.  Sara chose to come to UNC because of the incredibly supportive and friendly atmosphere amongst the residents and faculty - everyone clearly loves their jobs and has fun while getting top notch residency training.
Alex Florence, MD - Alex earned her BS degree in Human Development and Family Sciences from the University of Texas at Austin and her MD from Baylor College of Medicine.  She chose UNC because of the friendly and supportive atmosphere, the great residents and faculty she met on her interview day, and the ability to train at multiple unique hospitals. Also, North Carolina is a beautiful place to live with lots to do!  She enjoys watching and playing sports, hiking, listening to live music, crafting, and going to the movies.  Alex bleeds burnt orange - Hook 'em Horns!
Lauren Frazer, MD, PhD - Lauren received a degree in Biology from Georgetown University.  She received her MD and PhD degrees from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.  Lauren jokes that she's been in school so long that she and her dog have both gone gray...she's also picked up some activities favored by retirees: golf and gardening.  She chose UNC for residency because Chapel Hill is a wonderful place to live, everyone seems so happy and excited to help each other, and the research and clinical environments are excellent.
Akilah Grimes, MD - Akilah went to Hampton University for undergraduate school and received her MD from The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University.  She enjoys exercise classes, especially Zumba and kickboxing; loves to travel and experience different cultures - her goal is to visit every continent (except Antarctica - it's too cold there!).  Akilah chose to come to UNC because of the Primary Care Residency, and she also knew she would be a well trained resident upon graduation.  Plus, she loves calling North Carolina home!
Joanna Hales, MD - Joanna graduated from the University of Florida (Go Gators!) with a degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition and attended Florida State University College of Medicine for medical school.  She chose UNC for pediatric residency training because of all of the amazing residents and faculty encountered on the interview day - the residents are genuinely happy and are great friends with one another; she loved the idea of training at more than one hospital; and UNC is also a great destination for a couples match.  Joanna enjoys running, hiking, cooking and yoga.  She is one of our rising Chief Residents.
Alese Harris, MD - Alese went to Yale University where she majored in English and attended medical school at Wake Forest School of Medicine of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.  She enjoys singing along to the oldies, baking, reading novels and short stories, and is a proud member of the Lumbee tribe.  Alese is in our Primary Care Residency - after residency, she is committed to returning home to Robeson County, North Carolina to practice general pediatrics.        
Ketan Nadkarni, MD - Ketan is a native of Chicago and is a die hard Bulls and Bears fan.  He attended the University of Illinois for undergrad and before going to the Medical College of Wisconsin, he spent a year working with orphanages and backpacking through South America.  Ketan chose to come to UNC for residency because he felt at home throughout the interview day - the residents seemed genuinely happy and the program has a great reputation for training well-rounded pediatricians.  He is also looking forward to warmer winters in North Carolina.
Laura Parente, MD, MPH - Laura is a graduate of the College of William and Mary and will forever have Tribe Pride!  She received both her MPH and MD degrees from the University of Virginia School of Medicine.  Laura chose to come to UNC because of her interview experience: great group of people at the pre-interview dinner and a fun, laid-back environment on the interview day - but it was also clear that teaching was a major focus.  She loves to read and her canine BFF, Pete, is named after the dog in the Zac Brown Band song, "Sic 'em on a Chicken".
Ali Rittenberg, MD - Ali earned a degree in Psychology from Davidson College (Go Wildcats!), where she and her twin sister also played soccer.  She went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine for medical school and chose to remain here because of all the amazing residents, students, attendings and staff - the faculty are wonderful, really love to teach, and are dedicated to helping residents become well-rounded pediatricians...the residents seem to all enjoy working together and spending time together outside of work.  Ali enjoys running, playing soccer and isn't ashamed to admit that she is a bad reality TV junkie.   She is one of our rising Chief Residents.
Zack Smith, MD - Zack received his BA degree in History from Elon University and his MD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.  Between undergrad and medical school, Zack spent time at the NIH conducting research at the HIV and AIDS Malignancy Branch of the Nation Cancer Institute.  He has been on multiple mission trips: English and math teacher in Ethiopia and volunteered for four months at a hospital in rural India.  Zack enjoys listening to music, playing guitar, hiking, camping and cycling.
Mary Terrell, MD - Mary attended the University of Maryland for both undergraduate and medical school.  She was drawn to UNC for pediatric residency training because it is a top-notch program filled with people that are amazingly smart yet down-to-earth. In her more adventurous youth, she went skydiving over Cape Canaveral, climbed Half Dome in Yosemite, backpacked through the Panamanian jungle, lived in Hawaii, and worked on a medical team at a surf competition in Tahiti.  These days, she has settled down (relatively) and is quite happy hiking, camping, and going on beach trips with her husband and their four children.
Joe Zakhar, MD - Joe majored in Physiology at the University of Arizona and went to New York University School of Medicine for medical school.  He enjoys trail running, BBQ, Sci-Fi and spending time with his wife and their husky-lab mix puppy.  Joe is one of our best dressed residents and even sews his own bow ties.  He chose to come to UNC for residency because of the different site opportunities, especially being able to practice in multiple PICUs.  Joe also appreciated the residency class size - not too big, not too small - just right!

Combined Pediatrics - Anesthesiology

Hammond Brandon Hammond, MD, MBA - This Pat Tillman scholar, Ironman, national park enthusiast, Netflix binger, and Navy veteran is a native of Nichols, SC.  He graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a degree in Economics, earned his MBA from the University of South Carolina, and received his MD from the University of Arizona College of Medicine - Phoenix.  Brandon did an away rotation at UNC and knew he wanted to come here for residency - he loved the experience, the people, UNC Hospital and Chapel Hill.  Brandon is a second year resident in our combined Pediatrics - Anesthesiology residency program.  
Marley Lawrence, MD - Marley went to Wake Forest University for undergraduate school, where she was captain of the Cross-Country and Track teams.  She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine for medical school and was blown away by the people during her pediatrics clerkship - residents, attendings, coordinators, everyone!  The friendliness and genuine focus on education were major reasons she chose to stay at UNC for residency.  Another reason is the combined Pediatrics - Anesthesiology Residency Program, which Marley is a part of.  She enjoys hiking, trail running and once won a baking competition with her pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.  Marley is in her third year of training.
Jennifer "JJ" Jutson, MD - Now in her fifth year of training, JJ was the first resident in our Pediatrics - Anesthesiology combined residency program.  She received a BS in Nursing from Abilene Christian University and worked as a NICU nurse prior to attending Texas Tech University for medical school.  She fell in love with UNC while interviewing with Anesthesiology, and her day with Pediatrics sealed the deal!  JJ already has plans for her first paycheck as an attending - fixing up the 1969 Ford farm truck that her grandparents gave her.