The School of Dentistry recently hosted their annual reception and recognition event to honor faculty, staff and students who go above and beyond. The honorees are selected by each respective Dental and Dental hygiene class and are presented with a memento of appreciation. Following are this year’s recipients.
DDS Class of 2022:
Dr. Narayanan Sreenivasan | Rotation Faculty of Year
Dr. Harlan Hassen | Team 1 Faculty of the Year
Dr. Todd Brower | Team 2 Faculty of the Year
Dr. Timothy Wezeman | Team 3 Faculty of the Year
Jonathan Wright | Staff of the Year
Katie Hayes | Student of the Year
Roda Mena| Dr. John Killip Student Leadership Award
DDS Class of 2023:
Dr. Solon Kao | Rotation Faculty of Year
Dr. Becky Smith | Team 1 Faculty of the Year
Dr. Todd Brower | Team 2 Faculty of the Year
Dr. Timothy Wezeman | Team 3 Faculty of the Year
Jonathan Wright | Staff of the Year
Brandon Ortega | Student of the Year
DDS Class of 2024:
Dr. Timothy Wezeman | Lecture Faculty of the Year
Dr. Timothy Wezeman | Pre-clinical Lab Faculty of the Year
Claire Tira | Staff of the Year
Nicole Riggs | Student of the Year
DDS Class of 2025:
Dr. Mark Johnson | Lecture Faculty of the Year
Dr. Gustavo Leal | Pre-clinical Lab Faculty of the Year
Claire Tira | Staff of the Year
Nik Wickerhauser | Student of the Year
DH Class of 2022:
Professor Tanya Mitchell | Lecture Faculty of the Year
Dr. Kim Bray | Clinical Faculty of the Year
Tammy Woods | Staff of the Year
Brandie Simonsen | Student of the Year
DH Class of 2023:
Professor Julie Sutton | Lecture Faculty of the Year
Dr. Kim Bray | Clinical Faculty of the Year
Professor Tamra Hoffman | Staff of the Year
Shairry Lene | Student of the Year
It is also with a heavy heart that we heard Dr. Robert David Cowan, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, passed away on Sunday, March 6, 2022, at the age of 86. He was born in Detroit on February 20, 1936, to Eugene C. Cowan and Lillian E. Cowan. Bob graduated from Cooley High School in Detroit in 1954. After two years at Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois, he transferred to the University of Michigan where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1958 and a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 1961.
In 1958, he met Margaret Helmer of Grand Rapids, Michigan, at Upper Peninsula Bible Camp where they were summer workers. They were married three years later at Eastern Avenue Gospel Chapel in Grand Rapids and left immediately for Washington, DC, for Bob’s one-year dental internship. Because of the draft, he was commissioned as an officer in the United States Air Force in 1962.
After tours in England and Limestone, Maine, Bob was able to complete post-graduate studies at the University of Texas in Houston and Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio, receiving his Master of Science degree in 1972. Future assignments were in Washington, D.C., Thailand, California, Texas and Florida, where he retired in 1987 as Colonel after serving for 25 years.
Desiring to stay active, he accepted the position as Director of the Advanced Education in General Dentistry Program here at UMKC. Respected by patients and colleagues as a gentleman of the highest order, Dr. Cowan was first and foremost a clinician. If you needed to locate him, you could be assured he was chairside with the residents, never leaving for the day until the last patient was completed. Bob served in this position from 1987 until his retirement in September 1999.
During this time, he was awarded tenure, received a sizeable grant to expand the AEGD program, and was honored with the Elmer F Pierson Award for excellence in teaching. Upon his retirement, Dr. Cowan was acknowledged by his peers with an appointment as Associate Professor Emeritus.
In 2000, Bob and Margaret moved to the Chicago area to be near their daughter and son-in-law and two granddaughters, all of whom he loved dearly. Bob was a loving husband, father and grandfather. He is survived by his wife, Margaret, his daughter and son-in-law, Marilyn and Eric Enstrom, his granddaughter and grandson-in-law, Alicia and Grant Coulson, and granddaughter Nicole Enstrom.
It is with a heavy heart that we have received word Dr. Charles Dunlap, Professor Emeritus, and former Chair of the Department of Oral Pathology, Radiology, and Medicine, comfortably passed away this past Saturday with daughter, Dr. Shara Dunlap, at his side.
Dr. Dunlap was from Stigler, a small, very modest town in Oklahoma. He often mentioned how shocked and proud he was to be admitted and then graduate from UMKC School of Dentistry in 1960. He went on to pursue and was awarded a certificate in Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology in 1967 and awarded Diplomate of the American Board of Oral Pathology in 1970. Later in his career he served as President of the American Board of Oral Pathology in 1980 and in 1980-81 as President of the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology. Interestingly, his first juried publication was with former Dean Hamilton BG Robinson, also a renowned Oral Pathologist, one of many publications, books and chapters, theses, audio visuals, and presentations to his credit.
Dr. Dunlap, Charlie to his colleagues and friends, returned to UMKC to join the faculty, beginning a long and distinguished career, a highly respected and beloved faculty member for over 40 years. He garnered numerous awards for his excellence in teaching and patient care, including Outstanding Teacher Awards numerous years, Elmer Pierson Good Teaching Award, Distinguished Teaching Award many years, Outstanding Teacher awards from students at UMKC as well as KU Med, Governor’s Teaching Award, Faculty Fellowship Award, the annual UMKC Alumni Achievement award, and was named Endowed Rinehart Professor of Dentistry in 1997.
With a regional and national reputation as a clinical pathologist, Dunlap formed a close partnership and friendship with longtime colleague, Dr. Bruce Barker. Together, they built the school’s Oral Pathology Biopsy service into one of national renown, serving as the referral center of choice for many, many alums and physicians. And at the requisite time, found commendable funding from a very grateful (oral cancer) patient to remodel and re-equip the Biopsy Processing Laboratory. Then, long after the time when student study of oral pathology was done through microscopes and only used projected photos of microscopy, Dunlap secured funding from the same donor for construction of two state of the art multi-head, microscope facilities. The microscope teaching facilities allowed Dunlap and Barker to help students better visualize the pathology at a microscopic level, as a pathologist does, creating a stronger foundational understanding. Dunlap, and partner Barker, worked to provide clinical education in pathology that would benefit dentists and dental hygienists in a practical way and be of best service to their patients. They authored the small reference guide “30 Most Common Lesions” championing the core understanding that all oral health clinicians needed for foundational practice, which has a special place on the reference shelf of most alum’s offices.
The number of students taught is in the thousands, many of whom are themselves now renowned clinicians and educators, including among our faculty colleagues. With a command of oral pathology second to none, Dr. Dunlap loved diagnosing and discussing a case with a student or colleague. The door was always open and he was just a phone call away to come to the patient to consult. Many of you have your favorite stories of how comfortable he could make a patient feel, no matter the circumstance, and how quite amazingly no bill for professional services ever appeared. And his generosity did not end there, generously donating to many community causes, scholarship funds and, then in retirement, to fund full case restorative care for patients with no other means to pay.
The latter still stands today with many cases overseen by Dr. Shara Dunlap, his daughter and of course our faculty colleague, of whom he was very proud. Always searching for opportunities to be of service and so believing in the educational process and future of the profession, Dr. Dunlap ever so generously provided key funding for the construction of the Dr. Charles Dunlap Center for Research and Education in Technology (the school’s “Innovation Clinic”) which was formally dedicated in September 2013. The naming of the clinic was fitting recognition to such a distinguished alumni and faculty. And the alums and school extended their appreciation further by bestowing him with the Dr. John Haynes Leadership Through Service Award in 2016; yet another honor to a most selfless person after a long and distinguished career.
There is no doubt that Dr. Dunlap will be missed. Particularly by his family and very close lifelong friends who have been there to share triumphs and joy as well as help burden the sadness life sometimes presents. Please keep his family, particularly Shara, in your thoughts during this difficult time of loss, all of whom were the most important parts of his existence. Dr. Dunlap also took great pleasure in activities as mundane as meeting for coffee, walking the dog, redoing a sailboat or the annual family ski trips to Colorado. By all means take a moment to share your favorite Dr. Dunlap, favorite Charlie, stories. They will make your heart lighter and no doubt bring a smile and allow you to realize what an honor it has been to experience his gifts, kindness and friendship.
From kindergarteners to high school seniors, it was all smiles at University Academy
The UMKC School of Dentistry closed out February’s Children’s Dental Health Month strong, screening about 900 students at the University Academy, a Kansas City school serving K-12 students. More than 30 dental and hygiene students volunteered to provide care along with four faculty from the school.
The screenings are part of the lead up to reopening the dental clinic housed within University Academy. Opened in 2012, the dental clinic was temporarily shut down due to the pandemic. School of Dentistry faculty and students that provide care at the clinic say they are looking forward to reopening the clinic. Hayley Ferris, an instructor who works with dental hygiene students in the clinic, said the screening event played a critical role in the getting the clinic up and running again.
“This all-school screening will give us a baseline of where the population sits right now,” she said. “That way, we have an idea of what the needs are for these students before we go in with our preventative care.”
Dr. Megan Wendland, associate professor in the Department of Dental Public Health and Behavioral Science at the UMKC School of Dentistry, said additional funding from the state of Missouri was critical to the reopening of the dental clinic at University Academy.
“Our department is all about preventative care and preventing dental caries (cavities),” Wendland said. “The state had funding from the CDC to promote dental sealant programs and they said they would absolutely help with this.”
Ferris is returning to UMKC within the public health department to help manage the University Academy clinic. She helped established a similar clinic in the Olathe, Kansas, School District with Dr. Melanie Simmer-Beck, a professor and chair of the department. That program ran from 2007-2014.
The clinic at the University Academy is part of the dental school’s mission to provide health care in-house to students attending the school. UMKC will provide the oral health care in partnership with Children’s Mercy Kansas City, which manages the health clinic within the school. The dental clinic will be staffed by a UMKC dental hygienist and hygiene students who will provide preventive care, assessments, cleanings, fluoride, varnish and sealants.
“Right now, tooth decay is the number one childhood illness that causes kids to miss school,” Ferris said. “It’s extremely important that they have these resources available right there in the building so parents don’t have to take time off of work and kids don’t have to take time off from school.”
The experience is also beneficial to the participating third-year dental students, exposing them to a population they don’t get as much experience with, at least not 900 children at once.
“This is a great opportunity for them to see children in that mixed phase of having both permanent and primary teeth,” Ferris said. “And with pandemic restrictions, there aren’t as many of these outreach opportunities available to them so we filled up our sign ups in a matter of minutes.”
Children’s Dental Health Month is an initiative by the American Dental Association that promotes the importance of good oral health to children, their teachers and parents. The emphasis for this year’s campaign was on dental sealants for children. That is a welcomed focus for Wendland.
Wendland’s research focuses on disparities in health care and improving health outcomes in diverse populations. Sealants are an area she and the school focus on as a first line-of-defense in achieving those improved oral health outcomes. Sealants consist of a thin plastic coating that is placed on the back teeth, where a majority of cavities form. Wendland the sealants can prevent 80 percent of cavities.
“At University Academy, as well as our mobile clinic at Gladstone Elementary, we’re part of a big push to raise the national average for sealants,” said Wendland. “That average nationally is about 37 percent with the goal to push it above 40 percent. However, Missouri is at about 19 percent, which is obviously far and away from where we want to be.”
Wendland came to UMKC from Chicago where she was a clinician at a Federally Qualified Health Center. While there she experienced the scope of what a fully comprehensive program is capable of. The Chicago Department of Public Health partnered with the public school district to provide a universal sealant program to all K-12 schools.
“That program would see more than 120,000 kids a year,” Wendland said. “Currently, there isn’t anyone doing that kind of broad sealant program in Kansas City but having come from that model, ideally that’s what I would want to see.”
Assessing 900 children at the University Academy was a good start.
The School of Dentistry annually gathers to recognize and celebrate the scholarships awarded to our students and the generous donors who support these scholarships.
Due to the pandemic, we were unable to gather as in the past but don’t want to let this important recognition pass. To highlight the incredible scholarship support, the Rinehart Foundation, Dental and Dental Hygienists’ Alumni Associations, and the School released in early March this video of appreciation. We invite you to take a few moments to watch and hear the gratitude from members of our community.
To further recognize the student recipients and donors, we prepared a slideshow that includes each award and recipient. View the slide show here.
This year we accomplished an incredible feat together, our students received the largest amount of scholarship dollars in our history totaling $1,082,740! This is amazing and our students will be impacted for the rest of their lives by the support. Here is a breakdown of this year’s award amounts.
Total Number of Student Recipients: 195
Total Dollars from Rinehart: $767,060
Total Dollars from DDS Alumni Association: $1,880
Total Dollars from DH Alumni Association: $15,000
Total University Held: $153,800
Total Outside Scholarships: $145,000
Total Dollars Our Students Received: $1,082,740
The UMKC School of Dentistry is lucky to have such strong supporters of scholarships and this wouldn’t be possible without the Roy J. Rinehart Foundation, the Dental Alumni Association, the Dental Hygiene Alumni Association, and our many outside partners. Our appreciation to all our donors and scholarship partners for their committment to giving back and congratulations to our student recipients. When the time comes we hope you will do the same for future students. THANK YOU!
The Annual Faculty, Staff and Student Variety Show was held on February 25th, 2022 before an enthusiastic and very receptive audience.
The program featured an array of musical talent from members of the School of Dentistry and was hosted by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Student National Dental Association/Hispanic Student Dental Association (SNDA/HSDA).
This year’s event was emceed by Sunghee Choi, DDS 2022, and featured: Casey Aschinger, DDS 2023 – guitar and vocals; “Fast Cars” by Tracy Chapman and “Coffee Shop on First Street” by Aschinger. Erin Gilmore, Biomedical Communications – “How could I ever know” from the Secret Garden (video performance) Brenda Everhart, Dental Clinic – “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Carousel and “Cry Out to Jesus” by Third Day Anh Nguyen, DDS 2023 – guitar and vocals; “River” by Bishop Briggs Luke Komotos, DDS 2022 – ukulele and vocals; “Picture” by Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow John Cottrell, Director of Minority Special Programs – “Going Up Yonder” by Edwin Hawkins and “Only for One Night” by Luther Vandross. Adbullah Akbar, DDS 2023 – “Umbrella” by Rhianna (video performance) Shanon Black, DDS 2022 – parody performance of “Surface Pressure” from Encanto, with Dr. Todd Brower, Assistant Clinical Professor, Dr. Linda Seabaugh, Clinical Assistant Professor, Dr. Sarah Dunlap, Assistant Clinical Professor, Dr. Like Wezeman, Clinical Assistant Professor (all faculty in the Department of Restorative Clinical Sciences) and Stephanie Stewart-Towns, Office of Clinical Programs, on props and as background dancers.
The UMKC chapter of the Student National Dental Association hosted an Impression Day, Saturday, February 5, 2022, an event hosted by SNDA chapters across the country to increase exposure to underrepresented minority students to dentistry as a profession and the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) program. A hybrid event which included current dental students and faculty, twenty-five attended in person and fifty virtually via Zoom.
Breakfast was followed by an admissions presentation by Richard Bigham, Associate Dean for Student Affairs; Jimi Sode, Senior Manager of Dental Admission; and Jennifer Pennington, Enrollment Service Coordinator, all from UMKC. Scott Guerrero, STHAR Director, presented an overview of the STHAR program hosted at UMKC followed by John L. Cottrell, Director of Minority and Special Programs who discussed program requirements. Participants were introduced to a dental student panel that focused on Student Life: Drew Dean, DDS Class of 2022, Precious Hollins, DDS Class of 2024; Dean Mohammadi, DDDS Class of 2024 and Vanessa Sena, DDS Class of 2024 panel. A second student panel, Lena Adams, DDS Class of 2022 Blake Echols, DDS Class of 2023, Francisco Flores, DDS Class of 2024, Daniel Archibong, DDS Class of 2024; and Anh Nguyen, DDS Class of 2024 provided DAT test taking tips and Applicant interview suggestions.
At noon, attendees participated in a drawing for a variety of door prized. The big prize was a DAT Boot Camp Certificate, followed by lunch and a Mock Grand Round Presentation given by Rukevwe Erhenede, DDS Class of 2022, and former SNDA/HSDA President.
SNDA/HSDA members gave those attending in person a tour of the school and then they had the opportunity to participate in hands on lab experience where they made the preparation for a dental filling on a plastic tooth. The day concluded with remarks by Shonte Reed, DDS Class of 2024, President of SNDA/HSDA and Andrew Thompkins, DDS Class of 2024, Vice-President of SNDAHSDA.
Here are some participant comments highlighting the success of the event taken from an anonymous follow-up survey • You guys were so helpful • I appreciate the hard work that went into the Impressions Day • I loved the transparency, honesty, and boldness. • The workshop flowed well. I wish I could have been there in person
Mentorship is the fabric that runs through Erin Bumann’s work.
From a fellowship to funding, big things will be happening in craniofacial bone development in the lab of researcher Erin Bumann, D.D.S., Ph.D., M.S. at the UMKC School of Dentistry.
Bumann is an assistant professor in the Department of Oral and Craniofacial Sciences. The primary goal of her lab is to identify nonsurgical methods to change the size and shape of the bones in the face in hopes that children either do not need to undergo surgery or need less invasive surgery to address craniofacial deformities.
Most recently, she’s received foundational funding from the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to public health. It’s especially meaningful for Bumann, whose grandfather is from Mexico, that the funding comes from the Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program. The program was created to increase the number of faculty from historically disadvantaged backgrounds and will offer four years of support for her research as well as opportunities to network with fellow scholars in the program including an annual meeting.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to have colleagues around me from similar backgrounds, having some difficult conversations,” said Bumann. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to open up and have some honest conversations while also sharing resources and finding out what’s going on at other programs.”
Bumann has also been selected for the American Dental Association Gold Medal Fellowship. The award is only given out every three years to one individual nationally.
According to Bumann, her selection carries that much more weight because she was selected by one of her role models, Martha J. Somerman, D.D.S, Ph.D. Somerman was the first woman to win the ADA Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Dental Research. She is also the current past director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, an organization that has awarded Bumann a grant that enabled her to continue her research into jaw development in quail and duck eggs.
“Because of the pandemic I hadn’t had a chance to interact with her as much as in past years, so it’s been wonderful to catch up with her and reconnect,” said Bumann. “It’s really meant a great deal that someone with her breadth of experience looked at my body of work and saw it as impactful.”
Another opportunity that comes with the award is presenting her research as a continuing education course at the American Dental Association’s 2023 annual meeting.
“It’s such an important part of research, making sure that the research that we’re doing can directly impact patients,” said Bumann. “There can be a disconnect between dentistry and the research, so communicating with our clinical colleagues is so important and this is a great opportunity for that.”
Mentorship is an important part of Bumann’s work, not only as a mentee but also a mentor to others. “I’ve been really blessed all along my entire career path to have wonderful mentors,” she said. “Mentorship is a big part of what I enjoy and I think it’s so important to pay it forward.”
Bumann is an active mentor for a number of groups on campus. She is a part of the Avanzando Mentorship Program, which is designed to support Latinx students on campus with individualized support in reaching their academic and career pursuits. She also mentors through the Students Training in Academia, Health and Research (STAHR) Partnership, collaborative program with the UMKC schools of medicine, dentistry and pharmacy. The program is designed to increase the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds entering health care programs.
For Bumann’s time in the Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program, she’s excited to see where other schools have had success in their diversity programs. “I look forward to learning from colleagues at other schools and institutions who’ve already tried different approaches and finding out their best practices,” she said. “I’m hoping to bring some new ideas back with me to UMKC.”
Ultimately, one of the greatest gifts in mentorship for Bumann is seeing her mentees reach their ultimate goal at UMKC. “Last year, five of my past mentees – either from the STAHR program or my lab – all graduated,” she said. “To see that first cohort walk across the stage at Commencement was really special.”
Brandi Morey, a graduate student in the Dental Hygiene Education Graduate Program at UMKC School of Dentistry, has been named a recipient of a Graduate Assistance Fund (GAF) award from the UMKC Women’s Council. She will use the awarded funds to support her studies.
Established in 1971, GAF funds are designed to assist with the completion of requirements for graduate and first professional degrees, to help facilitate studies beyond the classroom, and to enrich and encourage educational experiences. Since its creation, the GAF has assisted more than 2,300 women by providing more than $2.1 million in graduate fellowships. This year, 53 female graduate students will receive $90,000 in assistance.
Future dentist presents at her hometown career day
When fourth year dental student Victoria Bridwell was invited to speak at her high school career day, she knew her passion for dentistry would be evident. What she didn’t expect were all the thank you notes.
At the actual career day, Bridwell presented in one of the school’s classrooms where the students would rotate between different presenters. She estimates that she spoke to over 100 high schoolers over five sessions. The students impressed her with their attentiveness and questions she received from them. But what was unexpected was the show of appreciation for her presentation.
“About a week later I received a package in the mail full of hand written thank you notes from many of the students,” said Bridwell. “When I opened it, I almost started crying. I had no idea those were coming but it absolutely warmed my heart.”
Bridwell’s former guidance counselor at Willard High School, located near Springfield, Missouri, asked her if she would want come back to participate in the school’s career day. It was actually the second time they had put out the invite but prior request came during her first year of dental school.
As most first years know, that is a big ask. “There was obviously know way I could make that happen with all my finals,” said Bridwell. “This time I was able to make it work. It was an honored they asked me and I was excited to share my passion for dentistry.”
Her passion for dentistry began at a young age. She knew she wanted a career in health care, with helping people as her end goal but she wasn’t sure what exact path she’d pursue. Ultimately, it was the time she spent in an orthodontics chair getting her braces that convinced dentistry was right for her. It was the positive change she experienced with her newly straightened smile and the confidence she gained.
“I love that dentistry is medical science but it’s also artistry,” said Bridwell. “Your using your hands to take something that is broken or diseased and causing pain, and make it not only functional but beautiful again.”
Bridwell is the first person in her family to go to college so it was important to her to also provide the high schoolers some general tips and tricks for managing the collegiate experience. She remembers being in their shoes, feeling like she didn’t have many people she could ask about what to expect from college. She of course covered all things dentistry but also emphasized things like campus visits.
“I just wanted to give a little guidance, give them a chance to ask questions they may be afraid to ask when they’re visiting colleges,” said Bridwell. “Even if dentistry isn’t their path, I wanted to give them some advice and direction for their future.”