(Pictured above, from left: Drs. Ramez Dagher, Christina Nyquist, Nissah Vilceus, Elizabeth Babkin, Mayada Saadoun, and Jennifer Murillo. Not pictured: Heena Gardner and Madeline Chittineni.)

This time of year is always exciting as we welcome new learners into the department. The incoming psychiatry residents who joined us on July 1 bring a diverse array of skills and experiences to the time they will spend with us.

We are proud to introduce four of the eight new residents in this two-part series about who they are, what they value, and where they came from.

Elizabeth Babkin, MD

Elizabeth Babkin

Elizabeth earned both her medical and undergraduate degrees from the University of Minnesota. She is a member of the Gold Humanism Honor Society and was a Deans Scholar from 2013 to 2017. She received the Dr. T. Lowry, Dr. Ruth Boynton, and P.V. Mehmel Scholarships in 2022.

Prior to graduating, Elizabeth volunteered at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, in its first-episode psychosis program; was a member of a volunteer peer mentorship committee at the U of M; and was co-founder of the Medical Education Reform Student Coalition. Elizabeth also volunteered with MN COVID Sitters and spent a year with the Phillips Neighborhood Clinic in Minneapolis. She created and runs the MN Teen Mental Health Directory website; and was president of both the Psychiatry and LGTBQ+ student interest groups at the U. For several years, she has served as a counselor for the Crisis Text Line in Minneapolis.

While attending the U, Elizabeth also worked for the National Alliance of Mental Health in Minneapolis.

For five years, she built her research skills as a research assistant in the lab of faculty member Katie Cullen, MD. She was also an assistant in the lab of Charlie Reznikoff, MD, and helped Brooke Cunningham, MD, PhD, complete a literature review looking at the effectiveness of anti-racism interventions for healthcare professionals. Elizabeth contributed to one journal article, made numerous poster and oral presentations, and wrote CBT and Motivational Interviewing Guide for Medical Students.

In her free time, Elizabeth loves to read, watch films, cook, is interested in furniture design, and stays fit through weightlifting, rock climbing, and hiking.

Madeline Chittineni, MD

Madeline Chittineni

Madeline completed her medical degree at the Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at the University of Vermont in Burlington, and her undergraduate degree in psychology (summa cum laud) at the University of Colorado in Boulder. She is a member of the Psi Chi National Honor Society and the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society.

In addition to her coursework, Madeline spent a year on a Mental Health Task Force in Burlington. She also spent more than two years volunteering with Larner College of Medicine’s LCOMcares Service Corps in Burlington, and spent a year as part of the Palliative Care Student Interest Group. In 2013, Madeline co-founded the University of Colorado National Alliance on Mental Illness branch in Boulder and served as both vice president and president.

She was a scribe in the emergency department at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, MN, between undergraduate and medical school.

To build her research skills, Madeline completed a project at the Larner College of Medicine. She also completed an honors thesis through the Institute for Behavioral Genetics, part of the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Madeline has given poster and oral presentations and contributed to two non-peer reviewed articles.

In her spare time, Madeline enjoys bikepacking, downhill and cross-country skiing, going to barre classes, canoeing, gardening, caring for her indoor plant collection, crafting, reading, and spending time with her two dogs and pet rats.

Ramez Dagher, MD

Ramez Dagher

Ramez completed his medical degree in 2018 as well as a psychiatry residency in 2023 at Université Saint-Joseph - Faculté de Médecine in Beirut, Lebanon. He also trained at the Catholic University of Louvain in Brussels, Belgium, where he earned a diploma in Partial Specialized Medical Training in Adult Psychiatry in 2021, and at Université Paris Cité in Paris, France, where he earned two diplomas in Specialized Medical Training in Psychiatry and in Clinical Addictology in 2022. During his psychiatry residency, Ramez worked in several hospitals in Lebanon, Belgium, and France, providing assessment and care for those with various mental health disorders.

During his time in Lebanon, Ramez volunteered at several nonprofit agencies as well as the Francophone Association for Mental Illnesses in Beirut. Under their auspice, Ramez provided assessment and care for adults, children, and adolescents, many of whom were diagnosed with epilepsy or intellectual disability or who were living in underserved and remote areas. 

His residency also enabled him to devote time to research. Ramez worked on many projects in Lebanon, contributing to several journal articles as well as a book chapter on ethics. He gave an oral presentation about one of the studies during the French Psychiatry L'Encéphale Conference in Paris in January 2022, where he won the first prize for residents.

When he has spare time, Ramez enjoys watching soccer, playing table tennis and chess, as well as writing about Lebanese politics.

Heena Gardner, MD

Heena Gardner

Heena brings a varied educational background to her residency. She completed her medical and undergraduate degrees at the University of Minnesota. She also completed a graduate degree in marine biology at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography of the University of California, San Diego, in La Jolla. While in medical school, Heena earned the Lillian S. Wong, MD, Endowed Scholarship.

An active volunteer in Minneapolis, she worked at the Crisis Text Line as a counselor and was an Early Youth Eyecare Initiative volunteer at the Philips Institute. In addition, she volunteered as a receptionist at the Philips Neighborhood Clinic and was marketing director for the Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association. Heena also volunteered at the Neighborhood House in St. Paul, and at the Mother Baby Center and in Outpatient Surgery at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis.

Heena built her work experience as a polymer clay artist for the Earthy Modernist in Minneapolis and runs a small business called Home by Heena. She also spent two years as an emergency department scribe for St. Francis Regional Medical Center in Minneapolis.

Heena is developing her research skills as a research assistant in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences lab of Katie Cullen, MD. She was also a graduate research assistant at the Scripps Institution of Marine Biology, published one journal article, and made numerous poster presentations.

When she has some free time, Heena enjoys rehabbing furniture, attending art fairs, hiking, putting puzzles together, and caring for her two cats and numerous house plants.

Part II
In the next article in this series, we will feature new residents, Jennifer Murillo, MD, MPH; Christina Nyquist, MD; Mayada Saadoun, MBBCh (MD equivalent), PhD; and Nissah Vilceus, DO, MA.