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Meet Our Residents

Learn what a few of our trainees have to say about their experience in the program.

Class of 2024

Alejandra Vasquez Avila, M.D.

Alejandra Vasquez Avila, M.D.

Medical school: Universidad de Los Andes


Why Mayo? I chose Mayo Clinic for the people and clinical excellence. As a resident at Mayo, my day is filled with multiple educational opportunities, both at bedside and through an organized academic curriculum, as well as inspiring and caring physicians willing to share their knowledge and experiences. I love the collegiality, and overall, the sense of community. I will be staying for a two-year epilepsy fellowship.


Rochester is a convenient place to live, particularly if you want to avoid long commutes to work and love nature. In my spare time, I enjoy hiking, running, and trying new restaurants.  

Brandon Jones, M.D., M.S.

Brandon Jones, M.D., M.S.

Medical school: Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center – New Orleans


Why Mayo? "The needs of the patient come first” is not just a saying at Mayo Clinic, but a value that transcends our practice of medicine and patient care. This mission, among many other factors, led to my decision to train at Mayo Clinic. I love that we can provide the best quality of evidence-based medical care for pediatric patients, regardless of their background or where they come from.


Many aspects make our small/medium-sized program unique, but the dedication to education and support sets us apart. The program offers ample didactic learning opportunities and hands-on exposure to both EEG and EMG during the protected clinical neurophysiology course, ensuring that you will learn how to be a leader in the field of child neurology and an excellent clinician.


After completing my training, I plan to conduct a sleep medicine fellowship and continue my career in academic medicine. Regarding life outside of work, Rochester provides easy access not only to work but also to various restaurants, bike trails, and hiking paths. Additionally, I frequently venture out to the Twin Cities, which are not too far from Rochester. In my free time, I enjoy playing with my two huskies, Luna and Klaus, and weightlifting at the Dan Abraham Living Center, Mayo’s employee gym. I’m also an avid coffee-shop connoisseur and love exploring new restaurants and having fun experiences in Rochester and the Twin Cities with friends with whom I work.

Class of 2025

Judit Perez Ortiz, M.D., Ph.D.

Judit Perez Ortiz, M.D., Ph.D.

Medical school: University of Minnesota Medical School


Why Mayo? Training at Mayo Clinic is quite humbling. The culture of our medical practice is that the needs of the patient come first. Regardless of their level of complexity, our patients receive the comprehensive and timely medical care they need. The communication between primary care and between the various subspecialties is seamless. The pediatric neurology training is incorporated with adult neurology. We have a strong, well-structured academic curriculum led by our Neurology staff in all subdisciplines. This includes dedicated clinical neurophysiology course (electromyography, electroencephalogram) with hands-on learning, neuroanatomy, neurology subspecialty lectures, and beyond.


I truly enjoy working with our pediatric neurology staff. They are kind and incredibly accessible. They give us the appropriate level of autonomy for our level of training, and extra support when we need to give the best patient care. In our clinical continuity clinic, we follow both bread-and-butter pediatric neurology and complex pediatric neurology patients. In our inpatient and outpatient adult neurology rotations, we have a wide level of exposure to various neuropathologies, and our adult neurology co-residents and staff are wonderful to work with. We also have exposure to the superb neurology legacy, experts, and co-residents at Mayo Clinic.


Rochester living is easy. Residency training in any specialty and institution comes with inherent demands and long hours. My spouse and I were interested in living in a place where we would spend less time getting to and from work, and more time in our destinations. We wanted a place where we could be homeowners without sacrificing the quality of the living space. Now that we have a child, easy living is even more important! 

Mariya Saify

Mariya Saify, M.B.B.S.

Medical school: LBRKMMC Jagdalpur India


Why Mayo? I was drawn to Mayo’s reputation for cutting-edge research and advances in medicine while keeping patient care at its center. I was surprised by the collegiality and warm working environment. What I love the most about training here is the high-quality didactics and rare cases. What makes our program unique is our ability to curate your individual learning to match your career goals.


What I love most about our program is the ability to work and learn from experts in the field of child neurology. For me, child neurology is an exciting branch with recent advances in neurogenomics and horizon of disease modifying therapies. What I like the most about our specialty is the ability to work with kids and make a difference. I am planning to do a fellowship in pediatric epilepsy.


In my spare time, I spend time with my family, go for a hike or take a stroll in nature. I was surprised by the calmness Rochester offers and the things to do around the city. The best part is Rochester is a safe place to raise kids and has a very supportive neighborhood. I love living on a lake which is affordable on a resident’s salary. 

Class of 2026

Katarina Alajbegovic, M.D.

Katarina Alajbegovic, M.D.

Medical school: University of Michigan


Why Mayo? I wanted a small program with welcoming and kind faculty that could support my learning but also challenge me! What I love the most about training at Mayo Clinic is my peds neuro family. My seniors have been my cheerleaders since day one and I am so grateful that I get to learn from them.


Our program is unique because of the small size in the setting of a juggernaut of an academic institution where you get one-on-one mentorship and attention; with all technologies and diagnostics at your fingertips. What I love the most about my program is my co-residents. I decided on Pediatric Neurology because I love the neuro exam and looking at neuro imaging, but also love treating children and their families.


In my spare time, I enjoy walking and running down the Zumbro trail, plant shopping at Sargent’s with a Café Aqui Lavender Lemonade in hand, and trying to get my Paws and Claws adopted cat to pay attention to me. What I love the most about living in Rochester is the amazing parks and nature that are right in my backyard and an affordable apartment without roommates but with amenities! The thrifting in Rochester is also the best. 

Class of 2027

Aaron Downs, M.D.

Aaron Downs, M.D.

Medical school: California Northstate University COM


Why Mayo? What I love the most about our program is my co-residents and getting to make so many wonderful friends...and I also love that we have a 7T MRI. What I love the most about child neurology is that I get to play with a baby/child in order to do a neuro exam (and get paid for it!). Literally the best thing ever!


Something that surprised me about training at Mayo Clinic was that I realized I loved seasons and the winter wasn't that bad! I have a lot of fun living in the snow. I love how close everything is in Rochester and how much the town is actively growing. And I love being able to afford a house.  In my spare time, I sleep on the couch with my cat.

Erin Triplet, M.D., Ph.D.

Erin Triplet, M.D., Ph.D.

Medical school: Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine in Rochester, MN


Why Mayo? The biggest reason I chose Mayo for residency is the people - our residents are awesome, and our staff are simultaneously brilliant clinicians and teachers while being approachable and fun to be around. Our residency program is great at individualizing our learning plan to meet individual career goals, whether you want to become a general neurology practitioner in the wilds somewhere or run a research lab at a big academic center.


Rochester is an easy place to live - we don't have traffic or commutes, you can buy a house with a yard, and there are lots of parks and walking/biking trails so you can spend your time off work actually relaxing or enjoying yourself.  Personally, when I'm not at work I love hiking with my dog, baking, dinner with friends, and board games.

Class of 2028

Ellie Baugher, D.O.

Ellie Baugher, D.O.

Medical school: Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine


Why Mayo? I was drawn to Mayo Clinic because of the emphasis on compassion, kindness, and high-quality patient care. I love training here because we have so many resources and learning opportunities available to us. I feel very supported here by my co-residents, consultants, and administrators. People care about my learning and my wellness and have been kind, welcoming, and helpful during my first few months at Mayo.


I chose child neurology because I have always been fascinated by the brain. I studied neuroscience in college, and my love for it grew even more in medical school. The pathology is so intriguing and new advancements and treatments are actively being discovered- it's exciting! I also always knew I wanted to work in pediatrics, so child neurology is a perfect mix of my favorite subjects.


In my spare time, I like going to Trader Joe's, coffee shops, art museums, and farmers' markets. I also enjoy hiking, crocheting, traveling, and playing with my cat, Stanley.  I am used to living in big cities, so Rochester is a bit of a change for me. I have really enjoyed it so far! There are great food options and lots of beautiful trails to hike. 

Mary Sohn, M.D.

Mary Sohn, M.D.

Medical school: University of Oklahoma College of Medicine


Why Mayo? The first thing that impressed me about Mayo Clinic was not only their impressive work on patient care, research, and education, but how every page of Mayo Clinic website had the word "Patient care." This showed me the core value of Mayo Clinic: putting patients first and meeting their needs; I wanted to be part of the culture that had this essential value. Additionally, I felt at ease to be myself during the interview and had a sense that this "patient-centered" value was reflected in my interactions with faculties and residents during the interview.


The best thing about this program is that it has very rich resources in terms of access to different education and research opportunities to shape us as future child neurologists who are not only an expert in the specialty but doctors who are equipped to be excellent educators and researchers. Plus, if a trainee has an interest that is not specifically related to a specialty, there will be a way to be trained and grow in that interest such as biostats, global health fellowship, and more through mentorship and CME opportunities!


Falling in love with child neurology felt like falling in love with someone that I did not ever expect to be with. I first found myself fascinated with lesion localization in adult neurology rotation and fell in love with pediatrics. Child neurology was the perfect marrying of the two fields that I found myself enjoying! Further, I appreciated how the field often interacts with children with special needs and their families - it is very precious to be part of their journey. Neuroimmunology is a field I am interested in pursuing fellowship!


After work or in my free time, you can find me running on the trails, working out at a CrossFit gym, going on a walk or cooking with a friend, getting fresh produce for cooking, laying on my couch looking at funny reels on social media or church community groups. Rochester is a small and simple town but has most of the things that I enjoy from pretty trails, river, markets with fresh produce, local coffee shops, well-equipped gyms and more! There are different towns that can be explored with loved ones. One of the best parts about living in Rochester is: there is no traffic! Everything is within 15 minutes of driving, which helps me to allocate time to hanging out with friends and hobbies.