Thanks to Alums Who Joined Us in San Francisco for the School’s Reception at the ADA Meeting

Thank you to the alumni who made it out to the UMKC School of Dentistry Alumni Reception held during the American Dental Association Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California, on Thursday, September 5th. Alumni connected over hors d’ouevres and drinks while also catching up on school news with Dean Marsha Pyle, who was also in attendance. It is always such a treat to see so many alumni in different areas of the country. We are looking forward to next year’s reception in Orlando, Florida in October 2020.

Researchers Get Set for Presentations at National Conference

Several graduate students got a chance Friday on Bone-Muscle Day to hone their research presentations, which they will be making in two weeks at a national conference.

Seven research posters were on display in the School of Dentistry, and several faculty members and other students asked questions and offered comments on the work.

“This is an excellent opportunity to improve, having so many other eyes on the poster,” said Loretta Laughrey, a doctoral candidate studying the effects of weight bearing on bone development. Several comments were written on her poster, which she will incorporate into her final version.

The UMKC Center of Excellence in the Study of Dental and Musculoskeletal Tissues sponsors Bone-Muscle Day each year to help students prepare for the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research’s annual meeting. This year that event will be Sept. 20-23 in Orlando, Florida.

“The center invites anyone from the region who wants to come,” said Mark Johnson, PhD, the center’s director, and professor and chair of the school’s Department of Oral and Craniofacial Sciences.

This year that invitation drew two presenters from the University of Missouri Department of Biochemistry in Columbia, along with five from UMKC.

Charlotte Phillips, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry and director of graduate education at MU, said her graduate students “appreciate this opportunity to identify improvements they can make in their research presentations. The musculoskeletal group at UMKC is a great resource.”

The center also fosters collaboration across UMKC. Besides School of Dentistry faculty, the mentors for the research on display for Bone-Muscle Day included Ganesh Thiagarajan, PhD, PE, professor in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, and Michael Wacker, PhD, associate professor, associate dean for academic affairs and vice chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the School of Medicine.

Find photo here.

Explorer Post Helps Students Learn About Oral Medicine and Oral Pathology

The Dental Research Explorer Post, which helps high school and college students interested in dentistry learn more about the profession, on Saturday held its first session of the new school year.

The post, sponsored by the UMKC School of Dentistry in collaboration with the Boy Scouts of America Exploring Division, regularly presents information on dental specialties through faculty, alumni and community guest speakers and hands-on activities. Members of the Student National Dental Association/Hispanic Student Dental Association help with the hands-on experience.

This past weekend, Dr. Tiffany Tavares, DDS, Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Oral Pathology, Radiology and Medicine, spoke on her specialty, oral pathology. She covered case studies on an array of conditions including autoimmune diseases, cancer and genetic disorders. She also fielded questions from the participants and their parents.

After a pizza break, the students then went to a lab to learn how to conduct a biopsy. Besides Dr. Tavares, faculty members Dr. Derek Williams and John L. Cottrell were on hand to help. The SNDA/HSDA members who helped out were Rue Erhenede, Mahaam Qadeer, Taylor Johnson, Lena Adams, Drew Chatters Meshal Alborno, Kim Kha, Shurouk Alkharabsheh, Meredith Gomes, Yasmeen Qadi, Njeri Penda, Anthony Spates, Chanelle Roberts, Safa Nawazish and Uyen Hoang.

Photos here.

A Royal(s) Welcome

The UMKC Dental Alumni Association welcomed the members of the new dental and dental hygiene classes by taking them out to the ballgame. The DDS Class of 2023 and the Dental Hygiene Class of 2021 — along with other students, staff, faculty and alumni — were all invited to the Kansas City Royals versus Oakland A’s game on Tuesday. The weather was delightful, and everyone enjoyed a pre-game tailgate before heading in to root, root, root for the home team. It was a tight game and the Royals had some great pitching, but they lost 2-1.

Find photos from the event here.

Retirement Reception Honors Eight Longtime Faculty

Colleagues and students honored eight retiring faculty members on Aug. 20, with Dean Marsha A. Pyle praising their 202 years of combined full-time service to the School of Dentistry as “excellent teachers, leaders, researchers, supporters and workers.”

“What an amazing commitment these folks have collectively contributed to our successes, our positivity and our growth,” Dean Pyle said at a reception at the Diastole Scholars’ Center. “Each of these wonderful folks spent many years — many of them their careers or most of their careers — supporting the great things we do to meet our mission in teaching, research and service.”
Each retiring professor was acknowledged at the ceremony by a colleague. Here are excerpts from those remarks.

Of Dr. Cindy Amyot, BSDH, MSDH, ESD, EdD, professor and associate dean for Distance Education and Faculty Development, and her 27 years of service, Dean Pyle said: Dr. Amyot has been a pioneer in the promotion of online learning strategies. She is a prolific educational researcher, having 93 peer-reviewed publications to her credit. She shares her knowledge broadly, having served as a mentor to many DH and dental students and to many faculty as they came up through the tenure process, and to clinical faculty in researching clinical/education questions that they have. She has many roles in national leadership in dental education, in particular helping to lead the ADEA Commission on Change and Innovation. She is a master teacher and servant leader, serving on important committees of the school, university and profession. Along the way, she has developed and refined her leadership skills as one of the finest leaders I have had the pleasure to work with.

Of Dr. Michael McCunniff, DDS, MS, associate professor and chair of the Department of Public Health and Behavioral Science, and his 28 years of service, Dean Pyle said: He led the department of Dental Public Health and Behavioral Science while directing the school’s outreach efforts. He has given the program a signature culture of giving back to the community through our dedicated curriculum programming and through his leadership in working in the community promoting oral health through screening and interactions within the city, state and region. Dr. McCunniff has received many teaching and service awards, including the Samuel Rodgers Achievement award from the Missouri Primary Care Association; multiple Teacher of the Year awards; and UMKC Alumnus of the Year. Dr. McCunniff has also taken the lead in our school’s participation in IPE efforts among the health sciences schools. His colleagues said they would their “doughnut connection,” who always knew who had sweets. He always has a story and never met a stranger.
In turn, Dr. McCunniff said of Dr. Bonnie Branson, RDH, PhD, professor in the Department of Dental Public Health and Behavioral Science, and her 21 years at UMKC: In 2015 she became the director of External Rotations for the dental students in Missouri and Kansas. The number of patients seen and treated in Community Health Centers has been tremendous thanks to her dedication and hard work.
She has also been active in research, successful grant writing, presenting at multiple national meetings, online teaching, serving as a board member for many organizations and participation on many university committees. Her one weakness: She doesn’t know how to say no! Bonnie has also received multiple awards for her teaching and service, and was instrumental in developing Missouri Preventive Screening Program in 2006. The first year they screened 8,000-plus children and most recently screened more than 90,000 children. A common theme in her colleagues’ comments was her ability to inspire people — along with being a great mentor, friend and role model; soft-spoken and smart; and as strong as nails.

Of Dr. Donna Deines, DDS, MS, associate professor in the Department of Restorative Clinical Sciences
and her 40 years of service, Dr. Cynthia Petrie said: Dr. Deines has taught more than 4,000 dental students and holds the record as course director for the most courses — didactic, preclinical and clinical— and most credit hours taught now and possibly in the history of the dental school. Dr. Deines has continuously ensured that the curriculum that is taught is up to date, appropriate and adequate for students to become competent dental practitioners. Dr. Deines has received the Elmer Pierson Outstanding Teaching Award and the David Moore Teaching Excellence Award. Dr. Deines has been regarded with respect and acknowledgement for her wealth of dental knowledge, attention to detail and striving for excellence. Students and peers alike know that if something has Dr. Deines’ approval, it is well above the standards of care. Students will sometimes resist Dr. Deines’ encouragement to challenge them to learn the most and perform their best. However, when they are treating a family member or a friend, they want Dr. Deines to supervise their treatment.
Dr. Petrie also paid tribute to Dr. Jack Nelson, DDS, clinical associate professor and vice chair of the Department of Restorative Clinical Sciences, retiring after 7 years of fulltime service: Dr. Nelson has been most effective and greatly appreciated by students and peers. He has received many honors and awards, including fellowship in the American College of Dentists and International College of Dentists, the Rinehart Medallion for Service and the Rinehart Medallion for Philanthropy, the 2014 Distinguished Teacher Award, the 2016 Faculty Award from the American Student Dental Association and the recipient of the 2018 Dr. Hayes Leadership through Service award. He had a private practice in Independence for 30 years, was an active master runner in track and field and road running for many years, served in the Kansas City Police Department, holds a private pilot’s license and was a weeknight net manager for the Military Affiliated Radio System. At the dental school Dr. Nelson gave his whole self to everyone. Dr. Nelson has a remarkable gift of being able to connect with everyone. Dr. Nelson deeply cares for each and every person at UMKC School of Dentistry and everyone with whom he crosses paths. I will greatly miss Dr. Nelson’s positive attitude and optimistic outlook in life.
Of Connie Jamison, RDH, MS, dental hygienist in the Department of Periodontics, and her 20 years of service, Dr. Keerthana Satheesh said: Professor Jamison moved here from Alaska and worked hard to provide care for patients in Oncology Support and Advanced Periodontics. She has a very loyal patient following. She took time to know her patients and treat them with kindness and compassion. After several years of working to provide patient care and complete a master’s degree while working full time, Professor Jamison started to teach in the pre-doctoral clinics. Her passion for dental hygiene and periodontics was apparent in her role as an educator. She enjoyed teaching and connected extremely well with students and patients. She honestly cares that the students understand perio — and she wants them to like it, too. Her students praised Professor Jamison as a top clinical teacher, incredibly thorough and a pleasure to work with, and kind and approachable with a passion for dentistry.

Of Dr. Jerald Katz, DMD, MS, professor in the Department of Oral Pathology, Radiology and Medicine, and his 32 years of service, Professor Tamara Hoffman said: I have known you now for the last 11 years. You have known me through the greatest times of my life from attending my wedding to the birth of my kiddos. I have known you through some of what I imagine as the hardest times of your life and yet you approached them with such strength and grace. To this day I do not know your faith, but I have always seen you as the loving and compassionate soul that so many of us admire. For the last couple of years I have called you “Boss” even though you have never made anyone in the department feel beneath you. No matter what concerns at work I had, I always knew I could bring it to you. You have always been open to new ideas and supportive of my goals and for that I thank you. You have given me the freedom and confidence to dream big for our department and strive for efficiency, fluidity and resolution of conflict as it presented. Your colleagues describe you as a great listener, a wonderful boss, approachable, professional and supportive through all our craziness.
Of Dr. Carole McArthur, MD, PhD, professor in the Department of Oral and Craniofacial Sciences, and her 28 years of service, Dr. Mark L. Johnson said: For the past two decades, Dr. McArthur has been at the cutting edge of HIV/AIDS and TB diagnostic system development and evaluation in Cameroon, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where she has established treatment clinics that have served millions of people. This past year she was recognized by Otago University as a “Life-Changer,” an award given to alumni that recognizes the sum total of their career achievements; in her case for advancing scientific research and humanitarian aid in the fight against AIDS in Africa. She also has a passion for horses and has bred, trained and entered horses for many years in Dressage, which is an Olympic sport. Carole has competed with her horses at several of the American Royal Horse Shows in the past. Over her career she received more than 70 grants and contracts from federal, state and local agencies as well as international foundations and pharmaceutical companies.
The School of Dentistry is thankful for these outstanding faculty members’ contributions and grateful that some of them will continue to serve the school part time in the future.

Find photos from the reception here.

Armed with Orientation Knowledge, Students Set for Classes to Start

What do 140 smiles look like? If you were at the School of Dentistry on Friday, you could see for yourself.

After three days of orientation, the school’s newest students were able to unwind together at lunch, and then pose for class pictures and enjoy an ice cream social. Several members of the 109-student DDS Class of 2023 and 31-student DH Class of 2021 said all the information conveyed had them feeling much better prepared for classes to start next week.

“The amount of information was almost overwhelming,” said Carlie Slover, a member of the DS Class of 2021. “But all the speakers and staff have been really nice. Everyone Is so helpful and really seems to care about us.”

Her classmate Addison Cornett agreed that the sessions had presented a lot of information to absorb, but that all the support made her feel “It will be OK.”

Sessions on Wednesday and Thursday had already covered many areas, from curriculum and support services to making sure students’ smartphones, laptops and other digital devices were synched up to the school’s systems. Friday sessions added thoughts from Dean Marsha Pyle, DDS, MEd, panel discussions by DH and DDS faculty, and an overview of clinical dentistry by Dr. Brett Ferguson, chair of the Departments of Hospital Dentistry and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.

Morgan Engelbrecht from St. James, Missouri, DDS Class of 2023, said, “Dr. Ferguson’s session was a highlight. It was great to hear about what we have to look forward to, and about the specialties in dentistry.”

Classmate Ryan Poertner from Blue Springs, Missouri, also said Dr. Ferguson’s presentation was impressive, along with a faculty panel that “fielded a lot of questions and gave us helpful answers.”

Nate Gamache from Ferguson, Kansas, summed up: “The sessions were well paced, with variety and a lot of useful information.”

Besides conveying three days’ worth of information, orientation also settled some butterflies.

Slover moved from Springfield “because I wanted my B.S. degree, and UMKC has the best dental hygiene program in the region.” Being in a new city, she said, meant orientation’s get-acquainted activities were particularly helpful and welcoming for her. She also has housing close to the school, “and I have a roommate who is in the program, which I wanted.”

“I have a heart for helping people, and as a hygienist I’ll be able to help people smile and have confidence,” Slover said.

Cornett, who is from Kansas City, expressed a similar desire to help others do and be their best.

“I’ve wanted a career in health care my whole life,” she said. “I chose dental hygiene because it’s so important for your health and for being able to achieve what you want. And I chose UMKC because I kept hearing good recommendations for this program. I’m excited for classes to start.”

Orientation photos from Friday’s events.

Class group photos from orientation found here.

Orientation Day 2: A Wealth of Useful Information

The UMKC School of Dentistry packed in a lot of information for its newest students on Thursday, the second of three days of orientation for the Dental Class of 2023 and the Dental Hygiene Class of 2021.

For the 109 DDS students and 31 DH students, the day started with breakfast and a welcoming session with representatives from the Student Programs office, the dental hygiene program and the school’s alumni. After a “getting to know each other” game, two sessions on student success rounded out the morning. The sessions covered everything from building access and safety to class organizations, student opportunities, support services, the curriculum and academic and non-academic policies. After lunch they heard about counseling and health services, libraries and tutoring available to them.

The classes split up for lunch and separate sessions at which DDS students toured the school with mentors and the DH students heard about “Navigating the Dental Hygiene Program.” After lunch, DDS students had a session on handling finances and another on what the Missouri Dental Association has to offer. DH students were able to get the dental instruments they will use throughout the year.

Orientation will wrap up Friday with an overview of the professionals, faculty panel presentations and team building exercises.

Find Thursday’s photos here.

Orientation Underway for New Dental and Dental Hygiene Classes

The School of Dentistry on Wednesday welcomed its newest students, the 109 members of the DDS Class of 2023 and the 31 members of the DH Class of 2021. Wednesday’s activities focused on getting the students – and their laptops, smartphones and other devices – in synch with the school’s computer systems.
Thursday and Friday will be packed with information on curriculum, finances, safety, student groups, libraries, student services and other school policies and resources. And on the personal side, the students will get their scrubs – navy for DDS students and grey for DH students – and enjoy get-to-know-you activities, tours with mentor groups, a pancake breakfast and an ice cream social.
“We survived the first day,” said Ella Algermissen, a DDS student from Albuquerque, New Mexico. “So far, so good.”
After her computer training, Algermissen was chatting with two new classmates, Courtney Wilson from Kansas City and Nikol Flynn from Wichita. They were testing their ID badges for access to the school and, just as importantly, starting the bonding that helps students succeed during their years of intensive learning and training. All three were excited to be at UMKC.
Wilson, who earned her undergraduate degree at nearby William Jewell College, said she was happy to not have to leave her hometown. “The school has a great reputation,” she said. “It’s the dental school of the Midwest!”
Algermissen, who graduated from New Mexico State University, and Flynn, who earned her undergraduate degree at Park University in Parkville, north of Kansas City, said they also were attracted by the school’s reputation, and its tuition exchange program that essentially offers Missouri tuition rates to students from Kansas, New Mexico, Arkansas and Hawaii.
Flynn also was drawn to UMKC because her mother got her nursing degree here, and her brother is a 2011 DDS graduate. “I love Kansas City,” she said, “and I knew UMKC had good programs.”
Wilson is one of 60 students in her class from Missouri, and Flynn is one of 26 Kansans in the class. Algermissen has one other classmate from New Mexico. The rest of the class breaks down with five students each from Hawaii and Arkansas, two each from South Dakota and Kuwait, and one each from Arizona, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina and Oklahoma. The class of 58 women and 51 men has an average science GPA of 3.66 and DAT academic average of 20. The age range is 21 to 43.
The new DH class of 30 women and one man has students from Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, California and Nebraska. The average science GPA is 3.43 and cumulative GPA is 3.51. The age range is 19 to 25.
Another new student, Jason Lau from Hawaii, said he felt welcome even though he was a long way from home. “The upperclass students from Hawaii have been really helpful,” Lau said. “It’s kind of like having family here.” He also was used to being far from home, having earned his bachelor’s degree at Boston University.
“I’ve been here about a week, so I’m getting settled in,” he said. “Everything has been good so far.”

Photos from Wednesday’s activities.

Award for Young Leaders in Dentistry Goes to Dr. Erin Bumann

In less than two years as an assistant professor at the UMKC School of Dentistry, Dr. Erin Bumann, D.D.S., Ph.D., M.S., has made a splash. The Kansas City Musculoskeletal Diseases Consortium recently made a nearly $50,000 grant for research Dr. Bumann will work on with a KU School of Medicine researcher. And now Dr. Bumann has been selected for the 2019 Dr. David Whiston Leadership Award from the ADA Foundation.

The Whiston Award, which honors a longtime leader of the American Dental Association and its foundation, was established to provide formal leadership training for promising dentists early in their careers. In making the award, the ADA Foundation said Dr. Bumann stood out among many highly qualified applicants because of her demonstrated leadership skills and her desire to strengthen those skills. The foundation also was impressed by Dr. Bumann’s desire to cultivate innovative approaches to the complexities the dental profession faces, and to improve access to good oral health care for all.

The award provides $5,000 for Dr. Bumann, a pediatric dentist-scientist, to attend any of several leadership training courses offered by the American Management Association or approved by the ADA Foundation.

“The Dr. David Whiston Leadership award will enhance my skills in team leadership, strategic thinking and developing a dynamic voice,” Dr. Bumann said. “I will explore vision and communication skills, as well as learn powerful techniques to effectively lead others to create value for the School of Dentistry and dentistry as a whole. I am honored to have this opportunity from the ADA Foundation to help develop skills that will be critical in my career.”

Dr. Bumann’s innovative research involving avian embryos has focused on cells that influence bone development, in hopes of someday preventing or reducing craniofacial abnormalities in people. She also emphasizes mentoring the undergraduate, graduate and fellowship members of her research team.

“I started in a research lab in my undergraduate training, and it is why I am in the position I am in today,” Dr. Bumann said. “I think it is very important to give back and mentor future generations of scientists and dental professionals.”