Current Laughlin Fellows

Each year, The College selects 12 third, fourth and fifth-year Residents from the United States and Canada and pays for them to attend our Annual Meeting.  The Laughlin Fellows are chosen from an elite pool of applicants deemed likely to make a significant contribution to the field of psychiatry.  They participate in all educational and social functions held during the Annual Meeting, making valuable contacts with their peers and College Members.  

 The College is pleased to announce the 2024 Laughlin Fellows:    

Pranav Aurora, M.D., ScM, DrPH (candidate)

Dr. Pranav Aurora is a fourth-year psychiatry resident and the Academic Chief Resident at SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn, NY. Originally from Northern Virginia, he completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Virginia in biomedical engineering and bioethics. After graduation, he did health policy research at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC. He then earned his medical degree and master’s in population medicine at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. 

Dr. Aurora is interested in a career in academic psychiatry. As an APA/APAF SAMHSA Minority Fellow, he developed curricular programs to introduce psychiatry residents to peer specialists with serious mental illness and the clubhouse model of psychosocial rehabilitation. He further refined his teaching skills through the Harvard Macy Institute Program for Post-Graduate Trainees. He has published in the New England Journal of Medicine on dismantling structural racism in academic residency clinics. He is also pursuing his doctorate in epidemiology to develop the research expertise to match his growing clinical interest in early psychosis treatment and prevention. 

After residency, he will be starting a fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry.

Tanner Bommersbach, M.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Tanner Bommersbach is a second-year child and adolescent psychiatry fellow at Mayo Clinic. Originally from Grand Forks, ND, he received an M.D. from Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine and an MPH in health policy and management from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health as a Sommer Scholar.

He completed residency at Yale University, where his research focused on the epidemiology of suicide and substance use and was published in leading journals including the American Journal of Psychiatry, JAMA, and JAMA Psychiatry. He is interested in using population health research to strengthen public systems caring for youth with emerging mental illness and currently serves as a policy fellow in the Center for Mental Health Services at SAMHSA.

Cynthia He, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Cynthia He is a Forensic Psychiatry Fellow at the University of California, San Francisco. She completed her M.D. at the David Geffen School of Medicine and her Ph.D. in Neuroscience at UC Los Angeles. She then completed her psychiatry residency at UCSF, where she served as President of the Psychiatry Residents Association and Chief Resident at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

As a resident, she sought specialized training in women's mental health and completed the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Training Program at the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis. She has published narrative writing about the impact of culture and identity in psychiatric practice, and her scholarly work focuses on areas of ethical tension and evolving standards of care. Since 2021 she has been active in the Northern California Psychiatric Society, where she is currently a Councilor and a member of the Professional Education, Ethics, and Asian-American Issues Committees.

Bushra Khan, M.D., M.P.H., F.R.C.P.C.

Dr. Bushra Khan is a Subspecialty Resident in Forensic Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. Dr. Khan completed her General Psychiatry training at the University of Toronto in 2023. Dr. Khan held several prestigious international fellowships during her General Psychiatry training including as a Vice-Chair of the Public Psychiatry Fellow with the American Psychiatric Association and as a Rappeport Fellow with the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law.

During her General Psychiatry training, Dr. Khan concurrently completed a Master of Public Health in Quantitative Methods at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health as a Frank Knox Memorial Fellow. Her graduate research employed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behaviour database and examined the mental health and social outcomes of children who are experiencing homelessness. While at Harvard, Dr. Khan was actively involved in the Kennedy School of Government’s Harvard Square to the Oval Office program in preparation for her foray into public life.


Dr. Khan's research formerly focused on underserved communities with individuals experiencing homelessness. Dr. Khan’s research shifted through clinical interest to psychiatry and the law. Dr. Khan’s forthcoming doctoral research will evaluate the health, service utilization and cost trajectories of forensic and non-forensic patients as they traverse through the healthcare and carceral systems in Ontario, Canada. 

Following her subspecialty training, Dr. Khan intends to establish a mixed practice as a forensic psychiatrist and a research scientist while also pursuing her doctoral training. Dr. Khan is immensely grateful to the endless support of her parents, her partner, her mentors and her cat, Ron Swanson. 

Alex Luna, M.D.

Dr. Alex Luna, of Peruvian descent, was born and raised in Queens, NY. He earned his BA in Cellular Neuroscience from Colgate University before attending Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons for his medical degree.


Currently a fourth-year psychiatry resident in the combined Adult and Child/Adolescent Psychiatry at New York Presbyterian Hospital – a collaborative program between Columbia and Cornell - Dr. Luna is invested in enhancing emergency psychiatric care, specializing in anxiety and depression management in the acute setting. His research also leverages machine learning to create predictive models for early intervention in child and adolescent mental health.

In medical school, he developed an algorithm to predict chronological age in young patients using neuroimaging, examining its correlation with psychiatric symptoms in youth. His ongoing work includes exploring neuroimaging features in children with ADHD in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) cohort, as well as evaluating the potential of AI in psychiatric practice. 

Avani K. Patel, M.D., MHA 

Dr. Avani K. Patel is a native of Mississippi and currently a fourth-year psychiatry resident at the Department of Psychiatry & Human Behavior at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. She serves as an APA Leadership Fellow, of which she is Chair allowing her the opportunity to rotate on the APA Board of Trustees. She is also a graduate of the AMA and Satcher Health Leadership Institute Medical Justice in Advocacy Fellowship having participated in the inaugural class. In addition, she is very involved with the AMA currently serving as a Delegate to the House of Delegates and serving her second term on the AMA Foundation Board of Directors. She is currently serving her sixth term on the Board of Trustees for Mississippi State Medical Association.


In her residency, Dr. Patel has received numerous awards for her dedication to advocacy, patient care, leadership, teamwork, and medical student teaching. She has given multiple Grand Rounds, case conferences, and lecture series on a variety of mental health topics surrounding wellness, burnout, and addiction. She is also committed to academic works with multiple publications in JAMA, JMSMA, and JMPA as well as a multitude of academic poster and oral presentations. 

Kelsey Priest, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Kelsey Priest is a third-year psychiatry resident at Stanford University and is Stanford’s Inpatient Chief Resident. She completed her Ph.D. in Health Systems & Policy from Oregon Health & Science University-Portland State University’s School of Public Health, defending her mixed methods dissertation in 2019 titled Hospital-Based Services for Opioid Use Disorder: A Study of Supply-Side Attributes.

Dr. Priest is a systems thinker, program builder, researcher, and advocate on issues related to mental health and addiction services delivery, drug policy, and gender-equity.

Gregg A. Robbins-Welty, M.D., M.S., HEC-C

Dr. Gregg Robbins-Welty is chief resident of the combined Internal Medicine and Psychiatry residency program at Duke University Hospital. Dr. Robbins-Welty is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine where he obtained his medical doctorate and a master’s in clinical research studying geriatric psychiatry and palliative medicine.


In addition to his clinical work as an internist-psychiatrist, Dr. Robbins-Welty serves as a clinical fellow in the Trent Center ethics fellowship, the chair-elect of the early career sub-committee of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and vice chair of the prestigious American Psychiatric Association’s Leadership Fellowship. He is also a nationally recognized and awarded bluegrass musician, having released several albums including 'Gregg Welty - Community', which was named among the top recordings of the year in 2019.

Sofia Sami, M.D. B.A.

Dr. Sofia Sami is a fourth-year psychiatry resident, former perinatal and reproductive psychiatry fellow, and former education chief at UIC. She is a member of UIC's house staff union. And a cofounder of the Chicago People's Rights Collaborative, a medical legal collaborative providing free forensic services for survivors of injustice.


Prior to residency she has been involved in various covid, crisis, and street medic organizing efforts. She has undertaken various types of immigration work and faith-based work immigration detention centers. And she has served as a training consultant on community based anti-surveillance efforts.

George E. Sayde, M.D., M.P.H.

Dr. George Sayde is an internist and psychiatrist originally from the Philadelphia area, where he majored in Physics at the University of Pennsylvania. He completed medical school, a master’s degree in public health, and combined residency training (in Internal Medicine-Psychiatry) at Tulane University in New Orleans.


During residency, Dr. Sayde led a clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of an intensive care unit (ICU) diary program in reducing post-traumatic stress after critical illness. This work led to the formation of a post-ICU clinic, where he conducted a study on long-term psychiatric outcomes in COVID-19 survivors. He is currently completing a clinical and research fellowship in Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry, along with advanced training in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, at Columbia University in New York. His work continues to focus on understanding and treating the downstream psychological complications of critical illness and hospitalization on patients and their family members. 

Morgan N. Schmidt, M.D.

Dr. Morgan Schmidt is a fourth-year psychiatry Chief Resident and active-duty U.S. Navy Lieutenant at Naval Medical Center San Diego. She grew up in Indiana and earned her B.S. in Chemistry from Purdue University and completed medical school at the Uniformed Services University (USU), where she was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha honor society. During residency, she successfully led an initiative to increase scholarly activity in the psychiatry department and was appointed as a USU Teaching Fellow for her efforts educating medical students. She is currently Chief of the Psychiatric Transition Program (PTP), the military’s only early intervention program for servicemembers with first episode psychosis. Her academic interests include medical education, serious mental illness, and medically complex patients.


Dr. Schmidt is married to an active-duty Navy Internist, LCDR Gregory Schmidt, and they live in San Diego with their 2-year-old son, Teddy.

German E. Velez, M.D.

Dr. German Velez is a first-year Fellow in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at New York-Presbyterian (Columbia/Cornell). Originally from Colombia, he completed medical school in Bogota and trained in adult psychiatry at Boston University/Boston Medical Center. He received two research grants during training, exploring cultural factors in children's resilience and implicit racial bias in mental health providers.


Dr. Velez passionately advocates for migrant children's mental health, contributing to toolkits and guides. He authored the American Psychiatric Association Resource Document on Social Determinants of Mental Health in Children and Adolescents. Dr. Velez is a member of the Future of Psychiatry work group, former chair of the American Psychiatric Association Foundation's Public Psychiatry Fellowship and serves as Resident-Fellow Member Trustee on the American Psychiatric Association's Board of Trustees. His interests encompass social determinants of mental health, qualitative research, infant psychiatry, and mental health promotion and prevention.