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Our People

Our People

It takes a special person to dedicate his or her life to the care and healing of children.

At Iowa, you will be exposed to some of the best clinicians, researchers and teachers in our profession. Through formal mentoring programs as well as an open-door philosophy, we provide high-powered opportunities for you to learn career-long lessons from these dedicated professionals.

Additionally, our chief residents and fellows are committed to helping you achieve your training aims. Classmates in your residency class will share in the support and encouragement that will help you excel.

Learn about some of our residents

Melissa Baranay, Chief Resident 2020-21

Hometown: South Bend, Ind.
Undergraduate Institution: Yale University
Graduate Institution: University of Notre Dame
Medical School: Rush Medical College
Hobbies/Interests: Running, traveling, and adoring my doodles.
Fun Fact: I spent a summer in Trinidad studying mosquitoes.
Post-residency Plans: I am applying for hospitalist fellowship.


Meaghan Reaney, Chief Resident 2020-21

Hometown: New Lenox, Ill.
Undergraduate Institution: Augstana College
Medical School: Lincoln Memorial University- DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine
Hobbies/Interests: Eating, fantasy football, petting puppies, and the Bears.
Fun Fact: I was born in American but am 100% Irish on both sides of my family.


Elizabeth Daniels, PGY-1 2020-21

Hometown: Fond du Lac, Wis.
Undergraduate Institution: Winona State University
Graduate Institution: Georgetown University
Medical School: Medical College of Wisconsin
Hobbies/Interests: Golf, biking, reading, board games, and puzzles.
Fun Fact: I once met the Jonas Brothers.


Mitchell Edwards, PGY-1 2020-21

Hometown: Dubuque, Iowa
Undergraduate Institution: University of Iowa
Medical School: University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine
Hobbies/Interests: I am a huge Green Bay Packers fan! I love attending anything with live music. My favorite band is Metallica, I have seen them live 4 times. My wife, Michaella, and I enjoy exercising, we go to Anytime Fitness in Iowa City.
Fun Fact: I have a twin brother who married my wife's sister. We are hoping to have identical cousins down the line!


Adam Erwood, PGY-1 2020-21

Hometown: Atlanta
Undergraduate Institution: Georgia Institute of Technology
Medical School: University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine
Hobbies/Interests: Hiking, backpacking, anything outdoors, reading, learning to play piano, watching NCIS.
Fun Fact: I through-hiked the Colorado Trail in college, totaling 500 miles in 32 days.


Alex Flanagan, PGY-1 2020-21

Hometown: Kansas City, Mo.
Undergraduate Institution: Drury University
Medical School: Saint Louis University School of Medicine
Hobbies/Interests: Tennis, pickleball, swimming, scuba diving, reading, hanging with my two cats Piper and Pumba.
Fun Fact: I do not get brain freezes and therefore love frozen drinks! During college, I did marine biology research in Roatan, Honduras.


Collin Foster, PGY-1 2020-21

Hometown: Clive, Iowa
Undergraduate Institution: Iowa State University
Medical School: University of Iowa
Hobbies/Interests: Golfing, biking, running, podcast listening, and diabetes management.
Fun Fact: In 2014, I briefly held the lead at the NCAA division 1 men's golf national championship. Two years later I built a stormtrooper helmet in a garage.


Lydia Hillier, PGY-1 2020-21

Hometown: Seattle
Undergraduate Institution: Pacific Lutheran University
Medical School: Western Michigan University Homer Stryker MD School of Medicine
Hobbies/Interests: I love dogs, board and card games, baking, tent camping, hiking, soccer, guitar, ukelele.
Fun Fact: I made a rap video about the number 96 for extra credit in my 6th grade math class.


Garret Kahle, PGY-1 2020-21

Hometown: Basehor, Kan.
Undergraduate Institution: University of Kansas
Medical School: University of Kansas School of Medicine
Hobbies/Interests: Walks with my dog and wife, hiking, biking, skiing, golfing, exploring local breweries and wineries.
Fun Fact: Due to COVID-19, my wife and I put in an offer on our house in Iowa City without seeing it in person first!


Keegan Kavanaugh, PGY-1 2020-21

Hometown: Iowa City, Iowa
Undergraduate Institution: University of Iowa
Medical School: University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine
Hobbies/Interests: Running, biking, hockey, rock climbing, cookies, reading, chilling with friends, travel.
Fun Fact: I have left Iowa City on many occasions, despite what my academic record might suggest. One of my best travel memories is walking on the Great Wall of China.


Melanie Morris, PGY-1 2020-21

Hometown: Helena, Mont.
Undergraduate Institution: Lewis & Clark College
Medical School: University of Washington School of Medicine
Hobbies/Interests: Running, going on long walks and hikes with my dog Cleo (he will not run), reading, ballet, and gardening.
Fun Fact: I can recite the whole SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Sailor Mouth" from memory.


Andrea Nollette, PGY-1 2020-21

Hometown: Omaha, Neb.
Undergraduate Institution: Hastings College
Medical School: University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Medicine
Hobbies/Interests: My husband and I enjoy hunting, fishing, and taking our two Viszlas, Jade and Oakley, pheasant hunting. When it's not hunting season, I like shooting sporting clays, skeet, and trap.
Fun Fact: I like to weld and I competed on the Hastings College Shooting Team.


Megan Oberbillig, PGY-1 2020-21

Hometown: Tempe, Ariz.
Undergraduate Institution: Arizona State University
Medical School: University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine
Hobbies/Interests: Gymnastics, hiking, college football, board games, and country music.
Fun Fact: I was a competitive gymnast, and still love following college and elite gymnastics.


Ashley Preston, PGY-1 2020-21

Hometown: Valders, Wis.
Undergraduate Institution: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Medical School: Medical College of Wisconsin
Hobbies/Interests: I love spending time being active outdoors and camping. I also enjoy playing softball with friends. Finally, I spend a lot of time being the cool aunt to my adorable niece and nephews.
Fun Fact: Johnny and June Cash were at my parents' wedding!


Sarah Scott, PGY-1 2020-21

Hometown: Aberdeen, S.D.
Undergraduate Institution: University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Medical School: University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine
Hobbies/Interests: Finding new restaurants, traveling, watching movies, puzzles, board games, buying things for my house.
Fun Fact: My new favorite TV show is Schitt's Creek!


Karen Villarroel, PGY-1 2020-21​

Hometown: La Paz, Bolivia and Woodbridge, Va.
Undergraduate Institution: Washington and Lee University
Medical School: Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine
Hobbies/Interests: I love being outdoors and try to go camping as much as possible. I think that one day I'll volunteer long term as a camping host at a National Park. I also love to read and am always looking for suggestions!
Fun Fact: I drive a 1992 Honda which I've had since college. She's in great shape and goes by the nickname of Rhonda. I am one of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and my first day in Iowa was my residency interview date!


Melinda Ana-Ma Whitacre, PGY-1 2020-21

Hometown: Yorba Linda, Calif.
Undergraduate Institution: University of Californa, Los Angeles
Medical School: University of California, Riverside School of Medicine
Hobbies/Interests: Baking, hiking, painting, biking, cross-stitching, tennis, traveling (I've been to 13 states and 8 countries so far), and trying out new food/dessert places.
Fun Fact: I went shark cage diving once in Honolulu! I was more uncomfortable with the waters since I have major seasickness.


Jonathan Jeschke, PGY-2 2020-21

Hometown: Stillwater, Minn.
Undergraduate Institution: University of Minnesota
Graduate Institution: Medical College of Wisconsin
Medical School: Medical College of Wisconsin
Hobbies/Interests: Playing and collecting guitars, reading non-fiction history with a political science focus and science fiction.
Fun Fact: I listened to 3000 hours of audiobooks during graduate school while labeling test tubes.


Megan Kavanaugh, PGY-2 2020-21

Hometown: Urbandale, Iowa
Undergraduate Institution: University of Northern Iowa
Graduate Institution: University of Northern Iowa
Medical School: Des Moines University
Hobbies/Interests: Leisure reading, going for walks, and singing/performing.
Fun Fact: My husband and I made call-backs for The Voice as a duo when we were in grad school!


Jeremy Sandgren, PGY-2 2020-21

Hometown: Sun Prairie, Wis.
Undergraduate Institution: University of Iowa
Graduate Institution: University of Iowa
Medical School: University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine
Hobbies/Interests: Video games, piano, running, cooking, and baking.
Fun Fact: Danced ballet for 10 years.


Caitlin Thirnbeck, PGY-2 2020-21

Hometown: Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Undergraduate Institution: University of Iowa
Graduate Institution: Des Moines University
Medical School: Des Moines University
Hobbies/Interests: Playing/cuddling with my dog, reading, being outside, traveling, watching Netflix original movies (especially the ones with poor ratings on IMDb).
Fun Fact: In high school I spent time competing as a mime; I even went to the state performance level. This will be more surprising once you meet me and discover how talkative I am.


Blair Wright, PGY-2 2020-21

Hometown: Sandwich, Ill.
Undergraduate Institution: Illinois Wesleyan University
Medical School: University of Illinois, UIC, Rockford Campus
Hobbies/Interests: Theatre, board games, walking around pretty places, and laughing with my family and friends.
Fun Fact: I make balloon animals! My cat meows like Owen Wilson saying "Wow!" so his name is Cohen (cat Owen) Wilson. Also, after Seth Cohen from the OC.


Cari Natvig, PGY-2 2020-21

Hometown: Tucson, Ariz.
Undergraduate Institution: University of Arizona
Medical School: University of Arizona - Tucson
Hobbies/Interests: Reality TV, brunching, playing board games, running, and cooking.
Fun Fact: I had a (free) goldfish that lived for 8 years.


Mariah Sisson, PGY-2 2020-21

Hometown: Virden, Ill.
Undergraduate Institution: Illinois College
Medical School: University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford
Hobbies/Interests: Running, hosting Whine Wednesday, watching sports (particularly the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Blackhawks), and losing in Fantasy Football.
Fun Fact: A long, long, long time ago, I placed in Pole Vault at the state track meet and will forever hold the middle school and high school pole vault records as my school consolidated with another district and no longer exists.
Post-residency plans: I am applying for Sports Medicine fellowship.


Karissa Soltys, PGY-3 2020-21, Rising Chief

Hometown: Washington, Ill.
Undergraduate Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Medical School: Southern Illinois University School of Medicine
Hobbies/Interests: Cooking, salsa dancing, reading, playing tennis, and quilting.
Fun Fact: If I wasn't in medicine, I would start a salon. I love cutting/styling hair.
Post-residency Plans: I will be staying for chief residency 2021-22.


Graciela Parra Villasmil, PGY-3 2020-21

Hometown: San Cristobal, Venezuela
Medical School: La Universidad del Zulia, Venezuela
Hobbies/Interests: Dancing, cooking, spending quality time with my family and friends, and crochet.
Fun Fact: I didn't know where Iowa was before getting my interview, but now I feel like the luckiest person and I am really grateful for doing my residency here.


Megan Wubben, PGY-3 2020-21

Hometown: Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Undergraduate Institution: Iowa State University
Medical School: University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine
Hobbies/Interests: Reading, photography, hiking, and playing with my puppy! From a professional standpoint, I am interested in outpatient general pediatrics.
Fun Fact: My husband is an EM resident.