Meet our People: Sumedha Sinha, Dr. Yi-Pin Cheng, & Rosemary Tyrrell

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From left, Sumedha Sinha, Yi-Pin Cheng, M.D., and Rosemary Tyrrell

Sumedha Sinha

Sumedha Sinha, Class of '19

Sumedha Sinha

As a child growing up in Bihar, India, one of six-year-old Sumedha (pronounced su-may-dha) Sinha’s favorite games was cops and robbers, and her favorite partner for the game was her older cousin, Varun.

“Varun was diagnosed with a brain tumor in his mid-20s,” said Sinha, now an MS2 at the University of California School of Medicine. “I loved playing a version of cops and robbers with him. He was tired one day and wasn’t able to play. When I asked why, he told me about his brain tumor. He laughed and said, ‘you have to become a brain doctor, so you can help me with this.’”

Sinha’s childhood was one of adventure. As the family moved, she always found new ways to entertain herself.

“Some of the places I lived in India were close to jungles, so it was fun catching so many different colors of dragonflies, giving my mom panic attacks by eating random plants – some poisonous – or encounter snakes,” Sinha said. “Looking back, living in so many places was good for me since it gave me the chance to learn more about others and myself.”

But what was often lacking for Sinha, and her cousin, were medical resources. Varun passed away a few years later from an infected second-degree burn and Sinha herself rarely had the opportunity to see a doctor.

“Medicine was never part of my childhood until my family and I immigrated here,” said Sinha. “Regular pediatrician visits or even wellness visits with physicians were unheard of until we immigrated, and I didn’t have a pediatrician until I was 10 years old.”

Her family immigrated to the United States when she was nine. They sold most of their possessions, stuffed the remainder of their belongings into two small suitcases, and joined her uncle in Pittsburgh, Penn.

“Immigrating was hard. My first school in the U.S. was a school where everyone was white, and I was drastically different,” Sinha said. “Except my dad, none of us spoke English. I eventually learned to understand English at a better rate, and started picking up talk by some students about how I was stupid, two even attributing it to my skin being brown. But my teacher was great and most of the kids were kind and understanding.”

Sinha said her largest culture shock came on her first visit to a library.

“Here, there were all the books I wanted and that I could borrow for free. It was so shocking,” said Sinha. “All the knowledge was there.”

This availability of knowledge and opportunities in America continued to fuel her passion for learning and for the medical field.

When her family moved to Atlanta, Georgia, Sinha was more openly accepted as different. She found herself surrounded by more people who encouraged her to do well and to pursue her passion for learning.

Her family later moved to Bakersfield, Calif., where they have lived for the last 16 years. Sinha received her degree in human biology at UC San Diego then worked at a tutoring center for No Child Left Behind. She joined AmeriCorps and worked as a case manager at Health Care for the Homeless and as a patient advocate at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Md. When she finished her AmeriCorps term, she was hired by Health Care for the Homeless for another year. During that time she applied for, and was accepted into the UCR School of Medicine. Like many other students at the School of Medicine, Sinha was attracted to UC Riverside because she felt a personal connection to the school’s mission and values.

“From my experience,” Sinha said, “lack of access to medicine and the lack of resources carves away at the life of a person. Health care is not a privilege. It’s a right.”

“In terms of my experiences with poverty and lack of access to medicine, UCR was the school I felt had the best understanding of these issues,” Sinha explained. “I also felt in the interview sessions that at this school, there were staff and faculty members who understood my family’s struggles in a deeper way.”

In addition to the obligations of medical school, Sinha still finds the time to be involved.

“This year I’m part of the Surgery Interest Group as co-president,” where Sinha has been involved since her first year. “I’m also a MSSP tutor, and most importantly the food critic for The Scope, the School of Medicine student-run newsletter. The last position I take very seriously. Students need to know where to eat.”

Sinha attributes her ability to make the words uttered by her late cousin to the efforts and sacrifices made by her parents. At one point her father worked a full-time job and two part-time jobs, while her mother worked a full-time and part-time job while attending adult school to learn English.

“My dad works as a pharmaceutical representative, and my mom is an instructional assistant with English as a Second Language (ESL) high school students,” Sinha explained. “I’m very proud of my parents and all they accomplished. I can never thank them enough for all the huge sacrifices they made to make sure my brother and I had the world of opportunities available.”

Yi-Pin Cheng, M.D.

Yi-Pin Cheng, M.D.

Yi-Pin Cheng, M.D.

In 2016, Dr. Yi-Pin Cheng, M.D., was offered an opportunity to become a part of an initiative that would not only impact the UC Riverside School of Medicine, but the entire UC Riverside campus.

The Integrated Healthy Campus Initiative, now simply called Healthy Campus Initiative (HCI) is an initiative established in December 2015 that brings together students, staff, and faculty to promote a healthier campus culture at UC Riverside.

“As a family medicine physician, prevention and education are very important, so I believe it is important to educate our community and provide an environment that both supports and encourages the health and well-being of our students, staff, and faculty to create a healthy campus,” Cheng said.

Cheng, who was born in Taiwan and grew up in Argentina, said she has wanted to be a physician for as long as she can remember.

“I think this is due to my grandfather,” said Cheng. “He is the person I admire the most, and was a wonderful family physician who worked with the underserved population.”

After finishing medical school in Buenos Aires and finishing her residency in the Riverside County Regional Medical Center (now the Riverside University Health System), she joined UC Riverside as an assistant clinical professor of health sciences.

When she began in HCI, Cheng joined Julie Chobdee, M.P.H., wellness program coordinator of UCR Human Resources, as a co-chair of the Healthy Campus Initiative Advisory Committee.

“When I first started, it was very busy because we had to meet personally with each of the committee members and start to organize the HCI structure from scratch,” Cheng said. “Julie is amazing, she is doing so much hard work with HCI.”

“Dr. Cheng and I meet and communicate on a regular basis to plan, strategize, and discuss the HCI,” said Chobdee. “She is very invested in seeing the initiative become a success and her passion to create a healthy environment for our UCR campus community is contagious. Dr. Cheng brings a wealth of experience, knowledge, and fun to the meetings!”

Together, this advisory committee created eight subcommittees that were formed based on areas of priority determined for the initiative. These areas of focus include healthy eating and nutrition; physical activity; mental health and emotional wellness; built environment; alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs; preventive health; communications and marketing; and metrics and quality improvement.

Cheng said that the committee’s current challenge is to promote HCI’s initiative throughout the campus and how to make each member of the UC Riverside community feel like a part of HCI.

“It is a very different atmosphere working with HCI than it is working as a professor,” Cheng said. “When I work in the clinic with students or residents we are in the medical environment, but when I work with HCI, I work with people with experiences from different areas of UCR, like recreation, biostatistics, dining services, student affairs, diversity and inclusion, the office of compliance, and more. We learn new things about the UCR campus every time we meet.”

“I really enjoy our monthly HCI Advisory Committee meetings,” said Cheng. “I think we’ve made big progress since last year, and it is amazing to see the energy, the commitment, and the support of our committee members.”

HCI is currently looking for subcommittee volunteers to help develop strategies, provide input and ideas, and collaborate on an action plan. Any interested students, staff, and faculty can call 951-827-1488 or email Julie Chobdee at julie.chobdee@ucr.edu.

Rosemary Tyrrell

Rosemary Tyrrell

Rosemary Tyrrell

“Nothing informs your teaching so much as being a student yourself.”

This is what Rosemary Tyrrell, Ed.D., says affects her perspectives the most while working in faculty development.

Tyrrell joined the School of Medicine in November as the director of faculty development, a position similar to her prior experience at Loyola Marymount University (LMU), where she was an instructional technologist.

Before working with faculty at LMU, Tyrrell was a faculty member at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in San Diego, Calif. for 18 years, where she taught classes such as history of costume, 20th century designers, and communications. She was also simultaneously FIDM’s instructional specialist for 14 years.

In her roles as instructional specialist, instructional technologist, and now director of faculty development, Tyrrell works with faculty to help them develop the learning environment in their classes and find the right resources to enhance their teaching techniques.

“I don’t think I would be half as effective without my years of teaching experience,” Tyrrell said. “You can’t understand what professors or instructors are dealing with if you haven’t stood in front of that room yourself.”

“I love working with faculty,” said Tyrrell. “I love being around people who are interested in education and open to new ideas. My favorite part of working with faculty is helping them help their students succeed; I know that I am benefiting students when I can help a faculty improve their teaching practice.”

But Tyrrell’s road to pedagogy wasn’t necessarily in her career plan.

“Let’s say I had a life-changing experience when I entered college many years ago,” Tyrrell said. “I don’t know if I have a passion for instructional technology, but I do see technology as a tool that can sometimes help teaching and learning. It isn’t a panacea and one size doesn’t fit all.”

However, her current role in faculty development was a long-term goal of hers.

“The opportunity to run a faculty development program is why I pursued my doctorate,” said Tyrrell, who received her education degree from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) while working at FIDM. “I was also interested in being part of the UC system and particularly in being part of the School of Medicine here at Riverside. I have been reading about the program and the university for some time and have been impressed by the mission and the commitment to building something wonderful.”

Despite having a similar position here as she did in LMU and FIDM, Tyrrell still anticipates a few learning curves at the School of Medicine.

“Obviously, there are big differences between a liberal arts college, a fashion college, and a medical school,” Tyrrell said. “I expect there will be a learning curve in understanding the programs and becoming familiar with the terminology.”

But Tyrrell is not completely unfamiliar with medical environments. In her youth, she spent some time working in a hospital laboratory, and she worked in the field of biotechnology when first moving to California.

“My job isn’t to be the content expert, however,” Tyrrell continued. “Where I can offer the faculty support is in the area of education. I have a great deal of expertise in teaching methods, using technology effectively, motivating students, and creating student-centered learning environments and experiences.”

Since beginning her position at the School of Medicine, Tyrrell has been using this expertise to conduct needs assessment, reaching out to several faculty and staff members to gain a sense of how she can improve and develop the School of Medicine’s faculty development programs.

On trying to pinpoint one experience that was the most rewarding in her career so far, Tyrrell said she finds it difficult to be specific.

“I have been fortunate to have always found my work rewarding and satisfying,” Tyrrell said. “I love what I do every day!”

Recent Staff Appointments

  • Jimmy Aldape, Application Developer, Strategic Resource Center
  • Tara Barthol, Laboratory Facilities, Training and Safety Manager, Research
  • Brandon Barbosa, Facilities & Space Planning Project Manager, Finance & Administration
  • Monica Choi, Forecasting and Analytics Financial Analyst, Finance & Administration
  • James Hackland, Postdoctoral Student, Biomedical Sciences
  • Rebekah Le, Postdoctoral Student, Biomedical Sciences
  • Diane Little, Analyst, Clinical Affairs
  • Diana Mejia, Medical Assistant/Patient Care Coordinator, Clinical Affairs
  • Pica Preston, Executive Assistant, Student Affairs
  • Vaurlon Smith, Administrative Assistant, Biomedical Sciences
  • Rosemary Tyrrell, Director, Faculty Development Program, Undergrad Medical Education
  • Leighsa Washington, Supervisor, Sponsored Research and Programs

Recent Academic Appointments

  • Robert Bernstein, Physician – Assistant Clinical Professor, UCR Health
  • Matthew Butteri, Health Sciences Associate Clinical Professor, Internal Medicine
  • Paul Kaloostian, Health Sciences Assistant Clinical Professor, Neuroscience
  • Sahar Eivaz Mohammadi, Health Sciences Assistant Clinical Professor, Internal Medicine
  • Mikio Nihira, Health Sciences Clinical Professor, OB/GYN
  • Gregory Shimizu, Health Sciences Assistant Clinical Professor, Internal Medicine

Media Contact


Tel: (951) 827-2969
E-mail: ross.french@ucr.edu

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