2019-2020 Teaching Awards

2019-2020 Psychiatry Teaching Awards

The Psychiatry Teaching awards are presented annually before the Department of Psychiatry’s Grand Rounds. Their purpose is to honor excellence in teaching, supervision, mentoring or related instructional activities in a number of categories. Nominees for each award are selected for their ingenuity, clinical skill, availability, supportiveness, inspiration, dedication, humanism, patience, respect for diversity, and improvement in the teaching process.


Outstanding Faculty Housestaff Teaching Adult/Geri Division

Eligible candidates are full-time faculty in the department who lecture, supervise, or tutor psychiatry residents, psychiatry fellows, or psychology trainees in the Adult or Geriatric Psychiatry Divisions at any of the DGSOM sites, and who have not received the award in the past three years.

Paola A. Suárez Ph.D.

The first faculty housestaff teaching award goes to Dr. Paola Suarez. Dr. Suarez co-directs the Cultural Neuropsychology Program within UCLA’s Hispanic Neuropsychiatric Center of Excellence where she has created a rich environment that fosters respect, collaboration, and passion among its trainees.  “Dr. Suárez brings a unique combination of expertise to bear on how she infuses her teaching with a lens of intersectionality that challenges trainees to grow well beyond their comfort zone by combining critical theory in sociology with the cutting-edge neuroscience of human behavior.”

A trainee writes, “Dr. Suarez has held an invaluable role in my life both as a developing professional and as a person. She has provided me with endless guidance, support, and encouragement that has allowed me to find success on my journey. Without question, she has paved the way for minority professionals within our field.”

A current fellow wrote “She offers trainees a refreshing balance between having an advanced command of evidenced-based knowledge and expertise along with the artistry required in its application in the clinical setting.”


Yvonne Yang M.D., Ph.D.

The second faculty housestaff teaching award goes to Dr. Yvonne Yang. A colleague states, since being here at the UCLA, I have been able to work with Dr. Yang in a variety of capacities, and in each of these she has continued to make an unambiguously positive impression through her selflessness and dedication to constantly improving the world around her. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in Dr. Yang’s revitalization of the VA Psychosis Clinic.

From a resident, “Dr. Yang easily incorporates knowledge of evidenced based medicine into her practice and strives to engender students and residents rotating with her a desire to utilize the most up to date literature when formulating assessments and discussing treatment options with patients and families.”

A fellow reflects that “Outside of her role as clinic director for the Psychosis clinic, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Yang while she was Associate Program Director for the residency program. Dr. Yang is known amongst residents to be a trusted mentor who moves with integrity and tact.”


Outstanding Faculty Housestaff Teaching Child & Adolescent/Population Behavioral Health

Eligible candidates are full-time faculty in the department who lecture, supervise, or tutor psychiatry residents, psychiatry fellows, or psychology trainees in the Child and Adolescent or DPBH Psychiatry Divisions at any of the DGSOM sites, and who have not received the award in the past three years.

Brandon Ito M.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Brandon Ito is the recipient of this year’s housestaff teaching award for the division of child & adolescent and population behavioral health. His investment of time and attention to detail provide an invaluable model for students, who often join him in shadowing the children to learn more about his behavioral and clinical observations. Beyond his impressive fund of knowledge, Dr. Ito’s teaching is marked by curiosity, enthusiasm, and collaboration with our students. 

Among a pool of top-notch teachers, Dr. Ito stands out as among the very best for his intellectual curiosity, acumen, and his thoughtful approach to teaching and mentorship.  Simply put, he is a star teacher at UCLA – the kind of person I wish I could have trained with. 

A resident notes “Ultimately, Dr. Ito shines with his teaching skills in multiple domains-clinical supervision, didactics, and a seminar course. I am pleased to have worked with him in all these areas and benefited from his expertise which has inspired me to continue pursuing my interest in clinical medical education.” 


Outstanding Medical Student Teaching

Eligible candidates are full-time faculty or staff in the department who lecture, supervise, or tutor medical students in courses, selectives, the required clerkship, or elective at any of the DGSOM sites, and who have not received the award in the past three years.

Misty Richards M.D., M.S.

The first recipient of this year’s Medical Student Teaching award is Dr. Misty Richards. A director notes, “Her enthusiasm to continue to improve as an educator is unsurpassed as she was recently selected as a fellow in the DGSOM Medical Education Fellowship (MEF) program, where she is constantly applying new skills as an educator to her medical student teaching.”

A former student writes “Beyond her clear abilities as an instructor, Dr. Richards’ humanism is unsurpassed. She has a warmth and joy about her that almost passes understanding. She listens so intently to your question or concern and has a way of making you feel like she understands you uniquely. She believes in her students, fully. And that naturally washes away any insecurity or apprehension preventing you from grasping material and instead leads your learning by a genuine excitement and reverence for the field that she shares.”

Another writes, “What stands out in Dr. Richards’ approach to medical education is her inclusive approach. In addition to teaching medical students and residents, Dr. Richards extends her knowledge, education, and mentorship to students and healthcare professionals that run the gamut of specialties – social workers and social work students, marriage and family therapists and trainees, physician’s assistant trainees, nurses, and nursing students.” 

Benjamin Woo, M.D.

The second recipient is Dr. Benjamin Woo. During his downtime, he is the faculty advisor for the UCLA Asian Pacific Health Corps, an undergraduate student organization that promotes health awareness among Asian American communities. With the student corps, he helped organize health and wellness fair in the local Asian American communities. He has proven to be a role model who serves as exemplar of a public servant with cultural competence.

A student writes, “What impresses me the most was Dr. Woo’s enthusiasm in helping anyone who’s in need, whether he is a patient or a student. I have benefited from his valuable career advises and found it extremely inspiring. He made himself available for medical students whenever possible.”

Dr. Woo's immense enthusiasm for what he does, from exceptional patient care, to phenomenal teaching and mentorship are qualities that I hope to emulate in the future


Outstanding Research Mentor

Eligible candidates are full-time faculty or staff in the department who are directly supervising research projects of residents and fellows and of psychology trainees and/or who are providing mentoring to such trainees or to junior faculty (below the rank of associate professor) on research, promotion, or career advancement who have not received this award in the past three years.

Helen Lavretsky M.D., M.S.

The recipient of the Outstanding Research Mentor Award is Dr. Helen Lavretsky. A mentee states, “Dr. Helen’s vision was the driving force behind the success of my projects and her complete trust in my capabilities motivated me to deliver my best. The research experience garnered under her mentorship helped me land multiple high-paying job offers from top multinational companies”

Another mentee writes, “Dr. Lavretsky fully appreciates the realities of balancing research with concurrent clinical obligations. She creates a highly supportive environment in which there is expectation of forward momentum but not to the sacrifice of education or well-being… She is a role model for conquering a highly competitive, male-dominated field with tenacity and humor.”

Dr. Lavretsky has mentored over a 100 students over the past 20 years. I am convinced that Dr. Helen Lavretsky is an outstanding medical and academic mentor, who has supported and will support many young trainees in geriatric psychiatry and translational research, whose first step in their long-standing, successful careers are owed to her support.

Outstanding Volunteer Clinical Faculty Teaching

Eligible candidates are volunteer faculty in the clinical instructor or clinical professor series whose primary work or responsibilities are outside the university (such as private practice, other clinics or hospitals, or public agencies), who have not received this award in the past three years, and provide clinical supervision or teach in courses offered to medical students, undergraduate or graduate students, residents and fellows, or psychology trainees or participate in other clinical teaching activities in the Semel Institute or Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital (or its affiliated hospitals and clinics).

Elizabeth Casalegno M.D.

This year’s Volunteer Clinical Faculty teaching award goes to Dr. Elizabeth Casalegno. “…Dr. Casalegno has helped to provide me with an unexpectedly solid psychotherapy foundation. She is dedicated to my learning and for this I am supremely grateful. I cannot imagine a more deserving volunteer clinical faculty member to receive this award” says a resident.

Another writes, “She is perhaps the best clinical supervisor with whom I have had the privilege of working. Like many UCLA faculty members, she has excellent clinical acumen, clinical reasoning and clinical judgement. She also has in-depth expertise in the field and shares this with trainees in an unusually accessible way.”

She was always warm and thoughtful, able to put the most difficult patients at ease and form strong trusting relationships. My co-residents and I have gone to her with extremely challenging or emotionally draining cases, knowing that she would support us. Even after completing the clinic, I continued to staff challenging moonlighting cases with her.

A colleague writes, “I have been at UCLA for more than four decades and I have never worked with a better clinical teacher…she represents the best of UCLA clinical training.”


Outstanding Resident Teaching

Eligible candidates are psychiatry residents, or child, forensic, geriatric, or other fellows, or psychology trainees who have primary teaching or supervisory responsibilities on their service or clinic for medical students, beginning residents, psychology trainees, or other trainees.

Sophie Rosseel, M.D.

Dr. Sophie Rosseel, a third year psychiatry resident, is this year’s recipient of the award for outstanding resident/fellow teaching. A co-resident states, “Her formal presentations equally phenomenal…she has a way of stretching her audience’s views of psychiatry.  Similarly, her interview class, which she created from the ground up, brought a brand new dimension to resident education.  Having an interview class is standard at other institutions, but Dr. Rosseel’s clever move to integrate the wealth of knowledge of the PCFA makes UCLA’s course outstanding.”

What is remarkable is how deftly Dr. Rosseel was able to address several unmet needs simultaneously: the request of our residents to receive structured training in interviewing skills, their desire for more psychotherapy-oriented teaching earlier in residency, and their wish for additional opportunities for group case formulation.

Dr. Rosseel is one of the most impressive educators that I have ever worked with. The things that she has accomplished would be impressive for anyone; the fact that she has done so within the first few years of her residency is absolutely incredible.


Innovation in Teaching

Enrico G Castillo M.D., M.S.H.P.M.

Dr. Enrico Castillo is receiving an award for Innovation in Teaching for his teaching and mentorship as a “unique academic public psychiatrist, educator, and mental health services researcher” Dr. Castillo has “focused his career on conducting community-partnered research dedicated to improving public mental health policies and mentoring the next generation of public psychiatrist leaders.”

A colleague writes “as a fellow Dr. Castillo inspired a team of 11 post-doctoral fellows and residents, 8 faculty, and several community partners to join together in an innovative team science approach, resulting in multiple presentations to the Surgeon General and a detailed technical report. It was clear to me from working with Dr. Castillo on this project that he had a unique gift for mentorship, motivating peers and trainees, and encouraging others to the best of their abilities.”

A senior resident writes “Dr. Castillo’s research mentorship played a critical role in my growth and development as a resident. Dr. Castillo fosters residents’ autonomy, encourages a growth mindset in mentorship meetings, and offers his time week after week.” Another writes, “I can safely say that without his guidance and support, I may not have received the job offer that I will excitedly be pursuing come summer… he has consistently supported me in a way that is above and beyond any support I have had throughout my medical training, and it comes purely from a desire to assist, mentor, and support trainees in their development.


Lifetime Achievement in Education

Sheryl Kataoka M.D., M.S.H.S.                                                                                                

Last but not least, we are awarding Dr. Sheryl Kataoka with the Lifetime Achievement in Education Award.  Dr. Kataoka is a Professor-in-Residence at UCLA within the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the Training Director of the UCLA Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Program.

A colleague and former trainee writes, I still remember sitting in her office on Wilshire, intimidated to be meeting with her, but blown away by her genuine interest and kindness. Despite her numerous responsibilities, and my lack of experience in health services research, she took time to meet with me, reviewed my (not very good) article, and encouraged me to keep pursuing research. Now, eight years later, she has mentored me through two fellowships, a career development award, and my first several years on faculty.

Dr. Kataoka is treasured by many. At annual AACAP meetings, students and trainees flock to her presentations on school mental health and to be involved in the AACAP School Committee, which she chaired for years. She has a wide network of collaborators

and trainees throughout the country… an apparent example of this is the 20-year partnership she has established with the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Dr. Kataoka is a highly accomplished child mental health services researcher, and an amazing mentor to countless junior faculty, fellows, residents, and other trainees across the country.