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Meet Our Trainees

The Ophthalmology Residency draws trainees from across the U.S. and around the world. While all our trainees have a love of learning and a compassionate approach to patient care, they come from diverse backgrounds, family status, and professional and personal interests. Learn more about our current residents.

Blake Fortes, M.D.

Blake Fortes, M.D.

What is something you love most about this program?

The incredible diversity and complexity of pathology that residents see in their clinics daily is unmatched. Whether it’s on call, in the emergency resident-run clinic, or in faculty clinics, residents manage a wide variety of intellectually stimulating cases alongside faculty in every subspecialty of ophthalmology, ensuring excellent exposure and training for the rest of our careers. In addition, our longitudinal continuity clinics enable us to take full responsibility of our patients and truly learn the subsequent management of conditions, not just the initial diagnosis. This residency provided me with the tools I need to take care of any patient I encounter in the future.

Emily Witsberger, M.D.

Emily Witsberger, M.D.

What is something you love most about this program?

The sense of camaraderie among my peers as well as among the faculty at Mayo Clinic is truly unlike that which I’ve seen at any other institution. It’s humbling to be surrounded by such a stellar group of fellow trainees who will always support me and help me reach my full potential. Moreover, I’m privileged to have close mentorship with brilliant consultants who inspire and empower me on a daily basis. I’m constantly impressed by our faculty’s commitment to patient care and resident education, and am excited and determined to follow in their footsteps. 

PGY-4 residents

Bryce Aul, M.D.

Bryce Aul, M.D.

Hometown: Rice Lake, WI

Medical school: University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, Madison, WI

Hobbies/interests: Dr. Aul grew up playing piano and singing, and still records music on occasion for personal projects. He enjoys many sports, hiking, camping, and playing board games.

Robert Funk, M.D.

Robert Funk, M.D.

Hometown: Wichita, KS

Medical school: University of Kansas School of Medicine, Kansas City, KS

Hobbies/interests: Dr. Funk is a regular runner and enjoys outdoor activities including swimming and surfing. As a former swimmer, he continues to swim laps for exercise.

Emily Witsberger, M.D.

Emily Witsberger, M.D.

Hometown: Charleston, WV

Medical school: West Virginia University School of Medicine, Morgantown, WV

Hobbies/interests: Dr. Witsberger began piano lessons as a first-grade student, started violin lessons during intern year, and has enjoyed playing in several resident concert series at Mayo. In addition to music, she enjoys running, hiking, and climbing.

Kristi Wu, M.D.

Kristi Wu, M.D.

Hometown: Holland, Michigan

Medical school: Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, Flint, MI

Hobbies/interests: Dr. Wu enjoys running and playing tennis whenever the weather allows. She loves to cook, travel, and learn other languages. She is conversational in Mandarin Chinese and Spanish and is hoping to learn more languages in the future.

PGY-3 residents

Marybeth Farazdaghi, M.D.

Marybeth Farazdaghi, M.D.

Hometown: Boyertown, PA

Medical school: University of Pennsylvania-Perelman School of Medicine

Hobbies/interests: Dr. Farazdaghi is a classically trained pianist and singer; she enjoys hiking, yoga, gardening, and spending time with her husband, daughter, and cat. Her spouse, Armin, is a PGY-2 resident in Vascular Surgery.

Blake Fortes, M.D.

Blake Fortes, M.D.

Hometown: Miami, FL

Medical school: Florida International University

Hobbies/interests: Dr. Fortes' hobbies include playing the drums, jogging, weight lifting, gardening, and outdoor activities.

Ali Salman, M.D.

Ali Salman, M.D.

Hometown: Baghdad, Iraq

Medical school: Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine

Hobbies/interests: In his free time, Dr. Salman enjoys soccer, cars, travel, geography, and carpentry. He is fluent in Arabic, and speaks at a beginner/intermediate level of Spanish. 

Saumya Shah, M.D.

Saumya Shah, M.D.

Hometown: Riverside, CA

Medical school: Mayo Medical School

Hobbies/interests: Dr. Shah enjoys cooking fusion dishes, hiking, reading, and Asian Indian classical singing and performing. She is also a novice barista by experimenting with new espresso drinks.

PGY-2 residents

Clara Castillejo Becerra, M.D., M.S.

Clara Castillejo Becerra, M.D., M.S.

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

Medical school: Ohio State University College of Medicine

Hobbies/interests: Dr. Castillejo Becerra's hobbies include Latin dancing, yoga, strength training, and reading. She also enjoys traveling all over the world, she's been to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Costa Rica, Jamaica, India, Robe, Prague, and Paris.

Heidi Dahl, M.D.

Heidi Dahl, M.D.

Hometown: Orem, UT

Medical school: East Tennessee State University Medical School

Hobbies/interests: Dr. Dahl's hobbies include running and hiking with her family, international medical aid trips, travel, cooking, and baking.

Tyler Kaplan, M.D.

Tyler Kaplan, M.D.

Hometown: Riverwoods, IL

Medical school: Chicago Medical School

Hobbies/interests: Outside interests include hot boxing, trying dark chocolates from different countries, and collecting Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers.

Prashant Tailor, M.D.

Prashant Tailor, M.D.

Hometown: Cordele, GA

Medical school: Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University

Hobbies/interests: Dr. Tailor's hobbies include running, reading, alogrithmic and options trading, basketball, and skiing.

Integrated PGY-1 residents

Haley D'Souza, M.D.

Haley D'Souza, M.D.

Hometown: Virginia Beach, Virginia

Medical school: Eastern Virginia Medical School

Hobbies/interests: Dr. D'Souza's interests include golf, photography, board games, trivia, sailing, SCUBA diving, and origami.

Piotr Kopinski, M.D., Ph.D.

Piotr Kopinski, M.D., Ph.D.

Hometown: Krakow, Poland

Medical school: University of Pennsylvania – Perelman School of Medicine

Hobbies/interests: Dr. Kopinski loves music, enjoys playing the piano, composing, and orchestra conducting. He is also a fan of winter sports, including downhill and cross country skiing.

Jessica Kraker, M.D., M.S.

Jessica Kraker, M.D., M.S.

Hometown: Plymouth, Minnesota

Medical school: Medical College of Wisconsin

Hobbies/interests: Dr. Kraker loves hanging out with friends and family, playing soccer, kickboxing, hiking, camping, going to concerts, making spicy food, drinking coffee, trying craft beer, reading, and watching psychological thrillers and documentaries.

Timothy Xu, M.D.

Timothy Xu, M.D.

Hometown: Livingston, New Jersey

Medical school: Mayo Medical School

Hobbies/interests: Dr. Xu's hobbies include tennis, volleyball, high intensity interval training (Insanity), fencing, and spending time with dogs.