Current Residents in the Neurology Residency Program
Chief Residents / PGY-4
Shant Afarian, M.D.
Hometown: Fort Lee, New Jersey
College: Rutgers University
Medical School: Saint Louis University School of Medicine
Bio: The seeds for a career in neurology were planted in my mind at a young age after exposure to a variety of neurological illnesses in multiple family members. Even before medical school, I had my sights set on the three “brain specialties:” neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry. Years later, I find myself nearing the end of a neurology residency and I have matched into a vascular neurology fellowship at the University of Rochester.
What do you like about Mobile: The seafood
What do you like about your residency: High quantity and quality of experience with stroke management
Hobbies: Reading, health and fitness
Fun fact: I climb about 60 flights of stairs daily, on average
Christopher Carey, M.D.
Hometown: Mobile, Alabama
College: Spring Hill College
Medical School: University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine
Bio: I attended Spring Hill College (B.S. Chemistry, 2007) and the University of Notre Dame (M.S. Physical Chemistry, 2010). I then went on to earn his medical degree from the University of Alabama (M.D., 2017).
What do you like about Mobile: I appreciate the climate and the southern hospitality.
What do you like about your residency: I like the one-on-one time with the attendings and the acuity of illness seen in our patient population as this makes for great learning opportunities. The size of our residency also supports close nit community between our peers.
Hobbies: Reading, Racquetball, minor and occasional programming
Fun fact: I have 6 siblings – no 2 of us are born in the same state.
Career prior to residency: Prior to medicine, I was planning on being a college professor in Chemistry. I spent 2 years as an adjunct professor. I also spent 1 year in environmental testing after graduate school.
John Soltys, M.D.
Hometown: Victor, New York
College: University of Vermont (BS, Biochemistry)
Medical School: University of Colorado (MD, PhD)
Bio: I am a current PGY-4 and Neurology chief resident. I initially grew up in the Northeast and am working on completing my training for a career an academic medicine with special interests in autoimmune neurology. Mobile is a great place to live with its low cost of living, great food, and access to spectacular beaches. The university provides a unique training environment as the only academic center in the region, capture a rich diversity of neurologic disorders. I am thankful for the community-feel of the residency and strong friendships keeping the department moving forward.
Hobbies: Woodworking, ukulele, vinyl records, paddle boarding
Fun fact: I am a Lego master.
Second-Year Residents / PGY-3
San Myung Han, M.D.
Hometown: Toronto, Canada
College: McGill University
Medical School: Boston University
Bio: Born in South Korea, grew up in Toronto, Canada
What do you like about Mobile: Nearby beaches, the winter weather
What do you like about your residency: Co-residents, exposure to diverse patient demographics
Hobbies: Spending time with family
Fun fact: Supporter of Manchester United
Joel Page, M.D.
Hometown: Statesboro, Georgia
College: Georgia Southern University
Medical School: Medical College of Georgia
Bio: I am from a rural area of South Georgia and grew up most of my life there. I studied chemistry and Spanish in college as well as studied abroad in Mexico City for a semester. I then went to the Medical College of Georgia and chose neurology because of how fascinating the subject is and a desire to help others with potentially crippling neurologic illness. Thankful for the family, friends, and mentors who have helped me to get to where I am.
What do you like about Mobile: Weather is pleasant generally year long. There are a lot of coastal activities to engage in including going to the beach, fishing, and kayaking. Rich history and many local cultural events. It’s also close to New Orleans and Pensacola.
What do you like about your residency: Autonomy and good outpatient/inpatient balance. Collegial atmosphere with other curious minded people.
Hobbies: Reading, hiking, kayaking, playing video games, fishing, tennis, hanging out with my cat
Fun fact: I can recite Hamlet’s Soliloquy by memory.
Career prior to residency: I have worked as a lifeguard, cafeteria worker, dishwasher, and tutor. Lifelong student.
Vi Tran, M.D.
Hometown: New Orleans, Louisiana
College: Xavier University of Louisiana
Medical School: University of Queensland
Bio: Oldest of 4 from New Orleans. I went overseas for medical school for adventure. Now I’m interested in Neuro-CC and NeuroIntervention.
What do you like about Mobile: Distance to the beaches
What do you like about your residency: The independent learning opportunities and the support of attendings and mentors in achieving your goals.
Hobbies: Vagabonding, cooking my way through The Food Lab and Sous Vide, running, growing orchids and dahlias, and now brewing beer
Fun fact: Antarctica is the last continent I haven’t been to. Overall, I’ve been to 20 countries with just a backpack.
Career prior to residency: Florist assistant and neuropharmacology lab manager
First-Year Residents / PGY-2
Akhil Padarti, M.D.
Hometown: San Antonio, Texas
College: University of Texas at San Antonio
Medical School: Paul L Foster School of Medicine
Bio: As I was growing up, my parents moved across the country staying in no place longer than 2 years. We finally settled in San Antonio in high school and that is the closest place to home. I avidly watched House MD growing up and realized that I wanted to do exactly what House did in the show. I ended up going to UTSA, majoring in Chemistry and Biology. I went on to medical school in El Paso.
What do you like about Mobile: I like the weather.
What do you like about your residency: The autonomy given to the residents in the program and the training that is provided.
Hobbies: Chess, Age of Empires, Exercise, Reading Fantasy Fiction books
Fun fact: I like to consider myself an amateur sleeper, even though it is often inconvenient. My record is that I once slept for 20 hours.
Thomas Strobel, M.D.
Hometown: Rexburg, Idaho
College: Brigham Young University-Idaho
Medical School: University of Queensland, Australia
Bio: I was born in Idaho in view of the majestic Teton mountains to incredible parents who raised 9 children—five of which would become doctors. Though I grew up in a small somewhat remote town, life has blessed me with opportunities I never would have dreamed of. When I volunteered to be a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints after high school, I found myself learning a new language and living in starkly foreign country (Russia) for two years with day-after-day life changing experiences. After returning home I wanted to continue helping people in the best way I could and decided to become a doctor. After majoring in human biology at my hometown university, I was ready for another adventure and decided to study medicine in Australia. It was an unlikely choice, but I somehow couldn’t pass it up. There, life again took an unexpected turn when I met my beautiful wife. Now, we have two beautiful children, and our adventure has brought us to the Alabama Gulf Coast. We couldn’t feel more blessed.
What do you like about Mobile: Mobile is a diverse and affordable city with many family-friendly areas and beautiful weather. It’s a wise financial decision for residency.
What do you like about your residency: Superior depth and breadth of pathology, great faculty and residency leadership who match high expectations with being highly responsive and supportive of the residents, high level of autonomy that quickly builds clinical confidence, supportive community that has continued to generously donate funds for the rapid expansion of the academic health system.
Fun fact: Like to cook
Sonny Tallavajhala, M.D.
Hometown: Overland Park, Kansas
College: University of Kansas
Medical School: University of Kansas School of Medicine
Bio: I’m Vinaykumar Tallavajhala, but I go by Dr. Sonny around the hospital. I was born in India and briefly lived in Jackson, MS before moving to my hometown in Kansas. I graduated from KU with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and prior to medical school, I spent 2 years working as a MCAT tutor helping over 70 students successfully enter medical school training around the country. My current interests in Neurology revolve around the intersection of Vascular Neurology and Neurocritical Care, with future interests in the education and mentorship of future Neurologists.
What do you like about Mobile: Year-round access to outdoor activities including a variety of affordable nearby golf courses, one nearby course has been listed as a “Top 50 Public Course” and “America’s Top 50 Affordable Course.” Proximity to Beach with a dog friendly public option.
What do you like about your residency: The faculty are all very approachable and enjoy teaching. The residents are a tight knit group, everyone is very friendly and willing to get together for a variety of social outings. The residency program itself is structured well to expose trainees early to Neurology rotations, and there is a great balance between education and clinical responsibilities.
Hobbies: Snowboarding, Golf, Video Games, Board Games, Anime
Fun fact: My wife and I have been playing the board game Pandemic Legacy since the beginning of residency and if we continue our current pace, we should finish by the end of PGY-3.
Interns / PGY-1
Santiago Diaz Gonzalez, M.D.
Hometown: Medellin, Colombia
College: Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana
Medical School: Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana
Bio: I graduated from my medical school in December of 2018. Afterwards, I went to Miami to prepare for the USMLE step 1 and step 2 CK with Kaplan Medical. During my preparation I was accepted in Kaplan Honor Society for USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK. I also did research during my stay in Miami. In 2020 I did a Neurology rotation with AMIQT, I also worked as a COVID 19 contact tracer from December of 2020 to February of 2021 in Colombia.
What do you like about Mobile: The people are what I like the most.
What do you like about your residency: It’s a resident driven program in which you have a close relation with your fellow residents and attendings. People are very welcoming and there is a very good work atmosphere.
Hobbies: Watching movies and playing chess.
George Malatinszky, M.D.
Hometown: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
College: University of Oklahoma
Medical School: Boston University School of Medicine
Bio: I am originally from Hungary and moved to America when I was four, first to Michigan, then Oklahoma, which is where I spent the most time growing up. My interest in neuroscience began early, when I saw a drawing of a neuron in an encyclopedia at age five or six. I researched Drosophila neuronal remodeling in college. Between undergrad and medical school, I worked as a phlebotomist and research assistant for projects related to platelets and carotid artery stenosis. After spending some time in New England, I am excited to start the next chapter of my life in a new (to me) part of the country.
What do you like about Mobile: The crepe myrtles, live oaks, and friendly people.
What do you like about your residency: Faculty, staff, and co-residents who are knowledgeable and caring for each other and our patients.
Hobbies: Hiking, cooking, eating, vibing, horticulture, traveling, live music.
Fun fact: I kept an indoor tomato plant alive and producing through a dark Boston winter. It even grew into my apartment’s drop ceiling!
Alexandria Penwell, M.D.
Hometown: Chapin, South Carolina
College: University of South Carolina
Medical School: University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville
Bio: I grew up in SC and spent a lot of time at either the lake or the beach. I majored in biology at U of SC and then went to medical school at USCSOMG. I developed an interest in neurology since it deals with some of the most impactful diseases with the greatest potential for future advancements in treatments.
What do you like about Mobile: I love being close to the beach!
What do you like about your residency: Everyone is very nice and welcoming. The other residents are all great people and I look forward to spending the next few years with them.
Hobbies: Sailing, camping, kayaking
Fun fact: I once spent a week backpacking on the Appalachian Trail in Virginia.