Current Fellows

Brigit Baglien, MD

Brigit Baglien, MD, is a resident in the integrated Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery program at the University of Michigan. She attended University of Virginia for her undergraduate education and University of Maryland for medical school.

She was initially drawn to Plastic Surgery to improve the quality of life of patients afflicted by malignancy, congenital anomaly, or trauma. She intends to pursue a career in academic Plastic Surgery, specifically in the fields of breast reconstruction and microsurgery with a focus on global surgery and increasing access to care in resource-limited settings.

Her research interests include global surgery and breast reconstruction. During her Academic Development Time, Dr. Baglien will serve as the Global Surgery Fellow within the Department of Surgery at the University of Michigan, a one-year commitment with a focus on researching ways to improve worldwide access to reconstructive plastic surgery through capacity building and advances in education and technology.  

Brian Fry, MD, MS

Dr. Fry is a general surgery resident at the University of Michigan. Originally from Colorado, he obtained a B.A. in economics from Bowdoin College in 2010. He then spent time as high school teacher and coach before completing a post-baccalaureate program at Boston University and eventually attending medical school here at the University of Michigan. During his time in medical school, he spent a year working here at CHOP as a medical student fellow while obtaining an M.S. in clinical research.

Dr. Fry's research interests are in surgical quality improvement, specifically in leveraging evidence-based practices to improve the appropriateness of surgical care, as well as using implementation science to drive both policy and individual behavior change. 

Whitney Fu, MD

Dr. Fu is a general surgery resident at the University of Michigan. She is interested in pursuing pediatric or cardiothoracic surgery. She grew up in San Diego, CA, then attended Dartmouth College where she studied biology and anthropology and Yale School of Medicine for medical school. She served with AmeriCorps in New York City between college and medical school, and worked in the Community Services Administration of the City of New Haven during medical school. These experiences fueled her interested in public policy, health disparities, and healthcare delivery in resource-limited settings.

Her research interests include disparities in the treatment of surgical disease, their outcomes, and burden of care on caregivers and families. She is also interested in the evaluation of post-operative quality of life and other patient-centered outcomes, and the effects of targeting modifiable risk factors on post-operative complication rates.

Dr. Fu is working towards a Master's in Health and Healthcare Research through Rackham Graduate School and the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.

Erin Isenberg headshot, in white lab coat.

Erin Isenberg, MD

Dr. Isenberg is a general surgery resident at University of Texas Southwestern and currently a National Clinician Scholar at University of Michigan’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation. She grew up in North Carolina and obtained her BSPH in Health Policy and Management from UNC Chapel Hill. She spent a year in Wisconsin working for Epic, developing tools in the EMR for population health and quality improvement. She then returned to UNC for medical school where she graduated with a scholarly concentration in Physician Leadership in Quality and Safety. Her research interests are in improving health equity in surgical populations and reducing low-value care via quality improvement and policy change. 

Headshot of Catherine Jensen on grey background.

Catherine Jensen, MD

Dr. Jensen is a general surgery resident from the University of Wisconsin and a National Clinical Scholar at the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation. She grew up in central Wisconsin and graduated from Marquette University with a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. She attended medical school at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. During her time in medical school, she studied surgical overtreatment and barriers to guideline implementation in low-risk thyroid cancers. This experience fostered her interest in improving the experiences, quality of life, and outcomes of patients diagnosed with pre-malignant lesions and cancer.

Her current research focuses on improving cancer care delivery, specifically surgical care, and patient-oriented clinical outcomes, including decision-making and identifying unmet psychosocial needs. Dr. Jensen is currently working toward a Master’s in Health and Healthcare Research through the Rackham Graduate School.

Patrick Johnson, MD, MPH

Dr. Johnson is a general surgery resident at the University of Michigan. Originally from Louisiana, he obtained a B.A. in Human Evolutionary Biology from Harvard College in 2014. He then pursued dual degree M.D. / M.P.H. from Louisiana State University. He then underwent General Surgery residency at the University of Michigan. He is currently in the candidate for the Masters in Health and Healthcare Research Program at the Institute for Health Policy and Innovation. His research interests include improving quality of care for trauma patients, healthcare financing, and improving access to surgical services.

Alexandra Luby, MD, MS

Dr. Luby is a plastic surgery resident at the University of Michigan. Originally from Ohio, she earned a Bachelors in Chemical Engineering from University of Dayton in 2014. She then continued onto graduate school , where she performed translational science research focused on applications of nanomaterials for targeted cell delivery and earned a Masters in Bioengineering from University of Dayton in 2015. With the goal to care for patients as a physician, she continued onto medical school at the University of Toledo. During that time, she continued her pursuits in translational science research, and even spent a dedicated year as a research fellow working on applications of bone tissue engineering in the Craniofacial Research Laboratory at the University of Michigan. Since beginning her surgical training at Michigan, she has had greater exposure to health services research and has seen the immense impact it can have on formulating evidence-based practices to improve patient care and healthcare systems. Her current research interests include improving the cost of surgical care and optimizing healthcare delivery across large hospital systems with the advent of rapidly expanding healthcare systems nationwide.                    

Dr. Luby is also enrolled in the “mini-MBA” Healthcare Administration Fellowship offered through a partnership between the University of Michigan Ross School of Business and the Department of Surgery. She sees immense value in increasing representation of surgeons in hospital leadership and through this unique programming, she aims to learn principles of business to prepare her for healthcare leadership roles in the future. 

Vanessa Niba, MD

Dr. Niba is a general surgery resident at the University of Michigan, as well as a National Clinical Scholars Program fellow at the Institute of Healthcare Policy and Innovation. Originally from Yaounde, Cameroon, Dr. Niba grew up in Prince George’s County, Maryland where she obtained a B.S. in Biochemistry at the University of Maryland and M.D. at George Washington University. During her time in medical school, she served as a community organizer working to expand access to care to the uninsured and underinsured populations of DC and Prince George’s County. This experience fostered an interest in health care delivery and access to specialized surgical care. Her research interests currently focus on investigating how factors of social vulnerability influence disparities in the treatment of time-sensitive surgical conditions, specifically regarding complex cancer care and vascular disease. Dr. Niba is currently working towards a Master’s in Healthcare Research through the Rackman Graduate School.   

Sara Schaefer, MD

Healthcare Administration Fellow

Dr. Schaefer is a general surgery resident in the Department of Surgery at the University of Michigan. She grew up in Boise, Idaho, and graduated from Western Washington University with a B.S. in Biochemistry. She attended medical school at the University of Washington. During medical school, she spent six months at a critical access hospital in rural Idaho and became interested in geographic variation in access to surgical subspecialty care, such as complex cancer surgery and transplant surgery. Her research interests focus on utilizing health care networks to optimize the delivery of surgical subspecialty services across a broad geographic region. She hopes to return to Idaho with a leadership role in the health system to continue to expand access to surgical care in the Intermountain West Region.

To facilitate a more in-depth understanding of health care delivery implementation, Dr. Schaefer will be a Department of Surgery Healthcare Administration Fellow, as well as an Education Fellow during her Academic Development Time. 

Nikhil Shah, MD

Dr. Shah is a general surgery resident at the University of Texas Medical Branch, but is currently pursuing academic development time at the University of Michigan. Originally from New Jersey, he obtained a B.A. in biology and sports medicine from the University of Miami in 2011 and attended medical school at St. George’s University in Grenada. He recently completed a Pediatric Surgical Critical Care Fellowship here at the University of Michigan/CS Mott Children’s Hospital and is now a clinical research fellow within the Section of Pediatric Surgery. Dr. Shah’s research interests are in surgical critical care, diversity within academic surgery and surgical leadership, and pediatric health advocacy.

Dominic Alessio-Bilowus headshot

Dominic Alessio-Bilowus

MD Candidate

Dominic is a fourth-year medical student at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI and is currently spending a one-year dedicated research period with the section of plastic surgery at the University of Michigan. After completing his pathology training at Wayne State University in 2016, he spent four years in a hospital-based surgical pathology laboratory before enrolling in medical school. Since then, his interests have shifted to a more clinical focus, and he is now particularly invested in surgical outcomes and health systems research. Currently, his research work concentrates on optimizing presurgical testing as well as opioid prescribing patterns and screening tools in acute care. In any situation, Dominic loves exploring the intersection of science, clinical care and health system operations especially as they relate to surgical settings.

Outside of work or school, Dominic enjoys playing cello (including as a member of the Detroit Medical Orchestra for the last six seasons), discovering new cuisine, good beer, and getting outdoors to enjoy nature whenever his schedule allows.

Abigail Kappelman, MA

Abby is a graduate student at Michigan currently pursuing a PhD in epidemiology at the School of Public Health under Dr. Nancy Fleischer and the Health Equity, Law, and Policy in Epidemiologic Research (HELPER) team. Her dissertation work focuses on intergenerational risk factors and social mobility in health outcomes. On main campus, she is also a research fellow with the Center for Social Epidemiology and Public Health (CSEPH) and the Stone Center for Inequality Dynamics (CID). Abby plans to apply into general surgery after returning to medical school and pursue a research career investigating cycles of health inequality. Prior to medical school, she earned an MA in Economics at The University of Alabama. Since moving to Michigan, she has have walked over 50 dogs in Ann Arbor as a side job!

Cole Roblee headshot

Cole Roblee

MD Candidate
Jay Pegues headshot

Jay Pegues

General Surgery Resident

Dr. Pegues is a general surgery resident from The University of Mississippi Medical Center.  She is from Abbeville, MS and earned a B.S in biology from The University of Mississippi.  Later attended medical school at The University of Mississippi Medical Center.  Dr. Pegues research interest includes racial and rural disparities within cardiac surgery, with an emphasis on heart failure.  She is also currently pursuing a Masters of Science in Healthcare and Health Research.  

Noelle Thompson

MD Candidate

Noelle is a third-year medical student at the University of Toledo College of Medicine in Toledo, Ohio and is currently spending a one-year dedicated research period with the Section of Plastic Surgery at the University of Michigan. Noelle is deeply passionate about global health and health equity. Before medical school, she spent three years working in Washington, DC at the Obama Foundation (non-profit), Families USA (non-profit), and Booz Allen Hamilton (consulting firm). This enabled her to work across the public and private sector and gain exposure of the US health care system from diverse viewpoints to further advance metric development, dashboard development, payment and delivery reform, process improvement, and research quality. In the summer of 2022, Noelle spent 9 weeks working in Geneva, Switzerland as a Duke-Geneva fellow to co-lead a research project with team members in South Africa, Uganda, Geneva, and India that focused on how to increase diagnostic capacity in low- and middle-income countries. Noelle’s current research focus is on how to improve equitable access to hand surgery. Outside of school, she enjoys hikes, pilates, cycling, running, journaling, reading, and event planning! Noelle aspires to be a plastic and reconstructive surgeon who continues to strengthen local and global equity.

Natalie Guzman

Natalie Guzman

Health Infrastructures and Learning Systems (HILS) PhD student
MD/PhD Student