Past Research Resident Bios



ASchneider.jpgAndrew Schneider, MD

As a medical student the University of Miami I began my research endeavors with basic science. Our lab focused on restrictive cardiomyopathy utilizing knockout mice. I also identified the prevalence of correlative science and the role of pharmaceuticals in recent breast cancer trials.

After completion of my medical degree, I began my surgical residency at the University of Chicago. My research goals revolve around risk stratification of patients with the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer using geriatric assessments and biomarkers. I am also investigating certain genetic mutations in pancreatic adenocarcinoma which are associated with extremely long overall survival. My research mentors include Dr. Kevin Roggin in the Department of Surgery and Dr. William Dale in the Department of Geriatrics.

During my research years I will also focus on incorporating technologic advancements into medical and surgical education.


Herbert (Mason) Hedberg, MD

I attended Brown University and completed its eight year combined undergraduate and medical school curriculum. I earned a BA in Biology as an undergraduate and also studied and practiced meditation with Brown’s Contemplative Studies concentration. In medical school I received formal training as a mindfulness instructor from the UMASS Center for Mindfulness and established a mindfulness pre-clinical elective for medical students which has since been integrated into the medical school’s mandatory mindfulness curriculum. I remain interested in the physiologic effects of meditation and benefits both for practitioners and patients and hope to study the impact of ‘brief mindfulness intervention’ in post-operative patients during my research fellowship. 

My surgical interest lies primarily in minimally invasive foregut surgery and surgical device design. I hope to participate in a variety of activities during my research time. I’ll be based at NorthShore University HealthSystem’s Grainger Center for Simulation and Innovation (GCSI) under the direction of Dr. Michael Ujiki. We plan to use NorthShore’s 3,000 patient Barrett’s Esophagus database to create a clinical risk score for Barrett’s progression utilizing clinical factors and biomarker profiles. Biomarkers will be tested on archived formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue from surveillance endoscopies over a 10 year period. In addition to this project GCSI regularly evaluates and tests new surgical equipment.

I have also been accepted into a Master of Science program in Biomedical Engineering at Illinois Institute of Technology. The department has a working relationship with GCSI and active collaboration to develop surgical simulation modules. I will be the surgical consultant for these projects while earning my degree and will pursue a thesis project that will utilize the resources available to me at GCSI. I hope to investigate purely adhesive bowel anastomoses and/or minimally invasive bariatric procedures. 

Liu.jpgJason Liu, MD

My interest in research began during my undergraduate experience at Duke University, where I earned a BSE in biomedical engineering. Interactions with physicians during my undergraduate research experience encouraged me to pursue a medical degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and to become a physician scientist. It was then during my time in medical school where I was introduced to clinical research and, more specifically, health services and outcomes research in surgery.

I have completed three years of clinical training as a general surgery resident at the University of Chicago. As a Clinical Scholar at the American College of Surgeons, my research focuses on improving and measuring surgical quality, particularly as it relates to surgical oncology. Although I am involved in several projects simultaneously, my primary focus involves the implementation of a patient-reported outcomes (PROs) initiative that will complement the clinical registries of the American College of Surgeons. During my research years, I will also be earning a Master’s degree from Northwestern University in Health Services and Outcomes Research.

Benjamin_Drew.jpgDrew Benjamin, MD

As an undergraduate at University of Michigan, I earned a BS in cellular and molecular biology and worked in a lab studying genomics in relation to yeast morphogenics. During my time in medical school at Loyola University Chicago, I spent time doing outcomes research in surgical patients. I then began my surgical residency at University of Chicago. University of Chicago provided me great opportunities to position myself for a career as an academic surgeon. I worked with Dr. Roggin and Dr. Dale investigating modalities to better risk stratify geriatric patients undergoing surgery for pancreatic cancer.  I also worked to elucidate genetic alterations associated with the aging process. Though integration of basic science and technology, I aimed to create models that will assist clinicians in identifying patients who will benefit from surgical intervention. Additional projects during my research years included surgical education research and the use of agent based modeling to describe traumatic Acinetobacter soft tissue wound infections, which are of growing concern.


Kantor.jpgOlga Kantor:
Outcomes Research Track
Katharine Yao, MD
Marshall Baker, MD

As an undergraduate at Rice University, I earned a BS in biochemistry and was introduced to the basic science laboratory by working in a start-up molecular ecology lab. In medical school, I quickly discovered my passion for surgery, and contributed to annotating a 3-D surgical atlas as well as worked on a clinical patient database used to analyze the utility of pre-operative MRI in surgical planning in breast cancer surgery. The University of Chicago was a perfect residency match as I was able to incorporate my love of the operating room with my academic career goals and research plans. After my second clinical year, I entered into a Surgical Oncology Outcomes Research Fellowship under the mentorship of Dr. Yao and Dr. Bakers, both surgical oncologists at Northshore. My research focus was on clinical outcomes, utilizing both institutional and national database information to investigate a wide variety of questions in the fields of breast, pancreatic, and gastric cancer. As an adjunct to my research experience, I obtained a masters of clinical research through the University of Chicago.

Find Olga's research on Google Scholar and PubMed.

Krezalek.Monika.jpgMonika Krezalek:
Basic Science Track
John Alverdy, MD, Lab

As a surgical resident, I took care of many critically ill surgical patients who, despite our best efforts and powerful antibiotics, succumb to sepsis. These experiences sparked my interest in the area of sepsis research.  With all of the recent research in the human intestinal microbiome, both in the scientific literature and lay press, I became interested in the role that the intestinal microbiota play in critical illness and recovery from surgical injury. I was fortunate to have been exposed to ongoing work at the University of Chicago in Dr. John C. Alverdy’s lab and in the Digestive Disease Research Center that focuses on this area of investigation. The focus of my research was the mechanism by which the normal intestinal flora becomes replaced by virulent and resistant healthcare associated pathogens during the course of prolonged critical illness and its influence on the course of critical illness and outcome from surgical injury. I completed three clinical years and then moved into two years of dedicated research time working under Dr. Alverdy as my mentor in his already established and very prolific laboratory.  I also obtained a Masters in Public Health degree. After completion of my residency, I will pursue a subspecialty fellowship and hope to work in an academic center with focus on clinical practice, teaching and the advancement of the science of medicine and surgery via translational research.

Dr. Krezalek was the recipient of a Mentored Research Award grant from the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract, for her project entitled “Advancing the biology of microbiome - intestinal interactions through the use of intestinal organoids.” 

Find Monika's research on Google Scholar and PubMed.

White.jpgMichael White:
Basic Science Track
Outcomes Research Track
Endocrine Surgery Research Group
Raymon Grogan, MD | Kenan Onel, MD

As an undergraduate at Princeton University I studied and completed my senior thesis work “A Test of Coherent Population Oscillations in Proteins: Slowed Light or Diffusional Wave?” with Robert Austin, PhD. After completing my time as an undergraduate I studied the biomechanics of viral DNA packaging with Doug Smith, PhD, at the University of California, San Diego before entering Jefferson Medical College. During my time at Jefferson my research revolved about measuring the surgical capabilities of the city of Philadelphia to respond to a mass-casualty incident. After completing my MD, I began my general surgery residency at The University of Chicago.

As a research resident my interests revolved around the interplay between genetic predisposition and environmental exposures in the development of malignancy. I worked with Dr. Raymon Grogan in the Department of Surgery and Dr. Kenan Onel in the Hematology/Oncology division of the Department of Pediatrics to study the risk haplotype of radiation induced thyroid cancers. Additional projects during my research years included genotyping samples of Familial Non-Medullary Thyroid Cancers, defining risk factors for postoperative hypocalcemia after total thyroidectomy, and defining the clinical incidence of thyroid incidentalomas on cross-sectional imaging. 

Find Michael's research on Google Scholar and PubMed.

SkowronKinga.jpgKinga Skowron:
Basic Science Track
Weichselbaum Lab
Ralph Weichselbaum, MD

I attended college at the University of Chicago, where I studied biology. While an undergraduate, I joined the lab of Dr. Graeme Bell, investigating the genetic basis of diabetes. My experience in Dr. Bell's lab sparked my interest in basic science and translational research. I started medical school in 2008 at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and continued to work with Dr. Bell in my early years there. Later in medical school, I found my calling in surgery. I began to work on a clinical research project with Dr. Konstantin Umanskiy, studying the factors affecting outcomes after pouch procedures for ulcerative colitis. As a surgical resident, I became very interested in the treatment of cancer. For my two years of research, I joined the lab of Dr. Ralph Weichselbaum, an eminent cancer scientist and radiation oncologist. During residency, I became interested in the complexities of doctor-patient communication and shared decision-making during critical illness after surgery. I was accepted as a Fellow at the University of Chicago MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, and studied this topic in depth. I plan to pursue a career in academic surgery, specializing in colorectal surgery.

Find Kinga's research on Google Scholar and PubMed.

Guyton_kristi_15.jpgKristi Guyton:
Basic Science Track
Surgical Education Track
John Alverdy, MD, Lab

Originally from Seattle, I moved to Chicago to attend the University of Chicago where I majored in biology with a focus on immunology and microbiology. Between college and medical school I taught English in Ecuador for a year and competed nationally in Arabian equestrian riding. I returned to Chicago to attend the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. During one summer I conducted a clinical research project on horse-related traumatic injuries with Dr. John Mayberry at Oregon Health and Science University and developed a pre-ride checklist to assist riders in reducing injuries. 

I was thrilled to continue to pursue my love of surgery in the General Surgery Residency at the University of Chicago. My research projects examined the microbial alterations at the site of healing and non-healing colonic anastomoses. Our laboratory is conducted a clinical feasibility trial for serial endoscopic evaluation of low colonic anastomoses and submitted an NIH grant to proceed to a multi-center randomized clinical trial. During my first year of research, I was a MERITS medical education fellow, working to improve the medical student and resident surgical education at the University of Chicago. I also worked on studying and building a curriculum to develop surgeon patient communication during awake procedures. I was also accetped as a surgical ethics fellow with the MacLean Center for Medical Ethics. 

Dr. Guyton was the recipient of a Clinical Research Training Fellowship grant from the Surgical Infection Society, for her project entitled “Elucidating the genetic basis by which commensal Enterococcus faecalis evolves into a tissue destructive pathogen causing intestinal anastomotic leak.”

Find Kristi's research on Google Scholar and PubMed.

Rojnica.Marko_.jpgMarko Rojnica:
MBA Track
John Alverdy, MD

I completed undergraduate (bachelor of science in biology) and medical school studies at the University of Cincinnati. My research interests focus on revolutionizing communication and workflow in the operating room. Through collaboration and mentoring from Dr. Alexander Langerman and Dr. John Alverdy of the Operative Performance Research Institute, the ExplORer workflow management software application was developed. As part of my research fellowship, I completed a masters of business administration from the University of Chicago-Booth School of Business in August 2015. My learning and experiences at Booth and in clinical research provided the foundation to pursue entrepreneurship in the form of ExplORer Surgical Corp, which has grown from the early ideation phase, to a productive startup company that has developed and is testing its second prototype technology and raised over $400,000 in funding. ExplORer has received remarkable market validation through its pilot testing and user feedback, as well as placing second in the New Venture Challenge: a nationally acclaimed business accelerator competition.

Find Marko's research on Google Scholar and PubMed.

Berian2.jpgJulia Berian:
American College of Surgeons Clinical Scholar

After graduating from the University of Chicago with a bachelor’s in Biology and in the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Science and Medicine, I worked as a research assistant at the University of California at San Francisco, gaining experience with prospective observational studies, a phase II clinical trial and the development and validation of a self-report instrument. I attended medical school at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and found my calling in surgery. I completed three years of clinical training in the General Surgery Residency at the University of Chicago and then entered the Clinical Scholar in Residence Program at the American College of Surgeons where I am the James C. Thompson Geriatric Surgery Research Fellow. My position is supported by the John A. Hartford Foundation as part of The Coalition for Quality in Geriatric Surgery Project, a systematic and comprehensive approach to improve the quality of surgical care for older adults. My work on this project has included the identification and engagement of a diverse set of stakeholder organizations, and the development of a set of high-quality standards for geriatric surgery through a modified Delphi process, the RAND-UCLA Appropriateness Methodology. In addition, I have contributed to the Oncology NSQIP NCI Center Collaborative (ONNCC) designing a multi-institutional quality improvement project to assess preoperative frailty among geriatric surgical oncology patients, under the leadership of Drs. Sharon Weber, Kevin Roggin and William Dale.  With the Illinois Surgical Quality Improvement Collaborative, I have been exploring the role of mentorship in Quality Improvement under the guidance of Dr. Karl Bilimoria. My database work has focused on NSQIP data, including risk-adjusted anastomotic leak rates, the effect of enhanced recovery pathways for colectomy patients, and the postoperative recovery of elderly surgical patients. During my research time, I have completed a master’s degree in Health Sciences and Outcomes Research through Northwestern University.

Find Julia's research on Google Scholar and PubMed.


Shakhsheer.Baddr_.jpgBaddr Shakhsheer:
Basic Science Track
Surgical Ethics Track
John Alverdy, MD, Lab

I graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Biology and Philosophy. After graduating, I worked for The MITRE Corporation doing research as a systems biologist. I attended Eastern Virginia Medical School and am currently a general surgery resident at the University of Chicago.

I worked in Dr. John Alverdy's lab where we studied the microbiome changes associated with anastomotic leak. I also worked on a rat model of this complication and with different microbiological and biochemical techniques to characterize and treat leaking anastomoses. 

Find Baddr's research on Google Scholar and PubMed.

Vigneswaran.Yalini.jpgYalini Vigneswaran:
Basic Science Track
Outcomes Research Track
Collier Lab

My training started as a chemical and biomolecular engineer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During this time my research interests developed in fields of engineering that overlapped with medical applications. At the university as part of the nonlinear systems group, I worked on modeling of molecular motors with thermal fluctuations and vicious friction. I also pursued molecular biology interests at the Cardiovascular Institute at Loyola University Medical Center with Dr. Jeanine M. Walenga studying the interactions of various cytokines in Heparin-Induced Thrombocytopenia. 

I continued my education at Rush Medical School in Chicago during which time I worked with Dr. Jonathan Myers studying surgical education specifically in medical school. My interest to pursue a career in general surgery then led me to the General Surgery Residency Program here at University of Chicago. 

In 2013, I had a great opportunity to pursue my research interests as a research fellow working under Dr. Joel Collier, an innovator in the field of biomaterials. There I investigated the immunologic properties of various materials used in the applications for tissue regeneration and wound healing, specifically understanding anti-inflammatory host responses to biomaterials and their role in tissue regeneration.

Find Yalini's research on Google Scholar and PubMed.

Singh.jpgPuneet Singh:
Basic Science Track
Surgical Ethics Track
Suzanne Conzen, MD, Lab
Matthew Brady, PhD, Lab

I graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in biology. Following this, I completed medical school at the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago. I was a research resident in the Department of Surgery at the University of Chicago. My research, conducted in Drs. Suzanne Conzen and Matthew Brady's laboratories, focused on adipose depot biology in breast cancer patients undergoing autologous reconstruction. I'm also did an ethics fellowship with the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics. My career interest is in breast surgery. 

Find Puneet's research on Google Scholar and PubMed.