School Holds 2024 – 2025 Summer Scholars SCADA Competition and Luncheon

On July 18, the UMKC Summer Scholars program held a closed poster competition to select the UMKC representative for the 2025 Student Competition for Advancing Dental Research and its Application (SCADA).

We’re pleased to announce that Sara Haggard (above, middle) was selected as the winner to represent the dental school as our student competitor at the national SCADA competition hosted by Dentsply Sirona at the Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research (AADOCR) Annual Session in March 2025 in New York. Sara’s poster was titled, ‘Wnt5a in Mandibular Bone Mineral Density & Microarchitecture.’ Sara’s mentors were Dr. Erin Bumann (above, left) and Ms. Portia Hahn Leat (above, right).

Talia Thambyrajah (above, right) who presented ‘Effects of the RANKL Inhibitor OPG-Fc on Osteoclast Dynamics,’ was awarded second place. Talia’s mentors were Dr. Sarah Dallas (above, left), Dr. David Moore and Dr. Kun Wang.

This was a very close competition, and the time, effort and preparation from all of the scholars and their mentors was apparent. We want to congratulate everyone on their impressive performances.

2024 Summer Scholars, Mentors, and Projects

Project: Multiple Functions of Novel Dopamine-Derived Biomimetic Crosslinkers in Dentin Bonding
Scholar: Drake Dugan, DDS Class of 2027
Mentors: Dr. Yong Wang, Dr. Viviane Hass

Project: Wnt5a in Mandibular Bone Mineral Density & Microarchitecture
Scholar: Sara Haggard, DDS Class of 2027
Mentors: Dr. Erin Bumann, Portia Hahn Leat

Project:  Gene x Gene Interactions in Cleft Lip / Cleft Palate
Scholar: Tia Kahwaji, DDS Class of 2027
Mentor: Dr. Timothy Cox

Project: Decoding Contracts: A Mixed Methods Analysis of Dental Employment Agreements
Scholar: Kylee Meloy, DDS Class of 2027
Mentors: Dr. Melanie Simmer-Beck, Dr. David Thein

Project: Effects of the RANKL Inhibitor OPG-Fc on Osteoclast Dynamics
Scholar: Talia Thambyrajah, DDS Class of 2027
Mentors: Dr. Sarah Dallas, Dr. David Moore, Dr. Kun Wang

See photos from the event here.

School Hosts Reserved Admission Program Students

Students from the Reserved Admission Program gathered at the UMKC School of Dentistry for a day of hands on activities and panel discussion on July 12. The Reserved Admission Program enables highly motivated Missouri and Kansas residents who are in their sophomore year of college to apply directly to the School of Dentistry for a reserved seat in a future dental class.

Students kicked off the day with introductions and a tour of the dental school. Following that, students took part in a question-and-answer session with Dr. Eric Gottman, Clinical Associate Professor and Interim Associate Dean for Clinical Programs, to gain insight on what the clinical experience at the school is like.

Dr. Luke Wezeman, Clinical Assistant Professor and Interim Vice Chair of the Department of Restorative Clinical Sciences, led the students through an operative experience to show the students what they can expect during their first two years of dental school as part of a Class 1 Prep.

Other activities including mingling with fellow classmates, meeting the school’s student ambassadors and more.

To view photos from the event, click here.

AEGD Receives Training on CEREC Prime System from Dentsply Sirona

“This week, we had a CEREC training, and the experience was amazing,” said new Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD) resident, Dr. Marina Figuerdo Florez.

Florez, alongside her fellow AEGD residents and instructors, spent three days with Dentsply Sirona at the UMKC School of Dentistry, training to use the school’s new CEREC Prime System, which includes the CEREC Primescan, Primemill and Oven. Dr. Steve Sterlitz, Restorative Division Chief, University of Kentucky College of Dentistry, conducted the training.

“I believe that this technology will enable us to create and place high-quality dental restorations in just one visit, making patients happy and ensuring our practice runs smoothly,” continued Florez. “It will help us stay up-to-date with the latest dental technology, allowing us to remain competitive and provide the best care.”

The training is intended for an experienced audience with previous knowledge of crown principles, concepts in adhesive dentistry, and awareness of basic all-ceramic dental materials. It consists of a combination lecture and hands-on experiences to reinforce key principles with the CEREC chairside workflow.

Over the three days, additional objectives included scanning strategies to capture an accurate intraoral digital impression, infection control protocols appropriate for semi-critical reusable medical device, evaluation of digital impressions for accuracy, maintenance of dental CAD and CAM equipment, all-ceramic restoration to restore esthetics, form, and function, implant systems and using the restorations for implants and more.

View all photos from the training here.

School Welcomes 2024 Advanced Education Residents

On July 1, the School of Dentistry welcomed eleven new residents to 5 advanced education residency programs:

Advanced Education in General Dentistry

From left to right

Dr. Rodolfo Plech
Dental School: Universidad Luterana do Brasil
Undergraduate Studies: Sao Leopoldo Mandic

Dr. Marina Figueredo Florez
Dental School: Universidad Central de Venezuela
Undergraduate Studies: Universidad Nacional de Colombia (CT)

Dr. Erica Morelli da Silva
Dental School: Universidade Santo Amaro (BDS)
Undergraduate Studies: Universidade Estadual Paulista (CT)

Dr. Yasmine Hassan
Dental School: University of Khartoum-Sudan

Advanced Education in Endodontics

From left to right

Dr. Daniel Shimansky
Dental School: University of Pennsylvania (DMD)
Undergraduate Studies: Brandeis University (BA)

Dr. Daniel Lee
Dental School: University of California, Los Angeles (DDS)
GPR: US Navy
Military Service: Navy
Undergraduate Studies: University of California, San Diego (BS)

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

From left to right

Dr. Jared Hatcher
Dental School: University of Tennessee (DDS)
Undergraduate Studies: Baylor University (BSE)

Dr. Dylan Dufour
Dental School: University of Colorado (DDS)
Undergraduate Studies: University of Northern Colorado (BS)

Dr. Sinan Akkoseoglu
Dental School: University of Nebraska Medical Center (DDS)
Undergraduate Studies: University of Nebraska (BASc)

Advanced Education in Periodontics

From left to right

Dr. Tanner Robert
Dental School: University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry (DDS)
Undergraduate Studies: Saint Louis University (BS)

Dr. Sean Powell
Dental School: Creighton (DDS)
Undergraduate Studies: Northwestern College (BS)

 Advanced Education in Orthodontics

From left to right

Dr. Elias Witte
Dental School: University of Nebraska Medical Center (DDS)
Undergraduate Studies: University of Nebraska (BS)

Dr. Forest Hulet
Dental School: Creighton (DDS)
GPR: Salt Lake City, UT
Undergraduate Studies: Brigham Young University (BS)

Dr. Nicholas Carrillo
Dental School: New York University (DDS)
Undergraduate Studies: Florida State (BASc)

High School Students Attend Dental Discovery Program

Nearly 30 high school students came to the dental school to take part in hands-on activities including, making dental impressions, doing simulation exercises using a dental drill and shadowing in the clinic, as part of the Summer Dental Discovery program, put on by the Office of Student Programs.

High school students considered for the program are highly-qualified individuals, committed to addressed oral health disparities within the healthcare system and have a strong interest in a career in dentistry or dental hygiene.

In addition to hands-on activities, students met with admissions staff to learn about how to become a successful dental school candidate and the process of applying to dental school. They also toured the school and met with peers and current dental students.

Click here to view photos from the day.

MU South Korean Exchange Program Brings Students to the Dental School

In an annual collaboration between the University of Missouri (MU),  the Office of Student Programs, the Division of Dental Hygiene, they hosted students and faculty from Jinju Health (JHC) in South Korea as part of an MU exchange program.

Through this program, there is both a professional and cultural exchange, allowing for visits to local dental practices and spend a day in the dental hygiene clinic at the School of Dentistry, while also mingling with UMKC students and getting to know each other.

This continues to be an enlightening experience for all involved, allowing an opportunity to talk about the similarities and differences in their shared profession and help create a deeper understanding of each other.

Click here to view photos from the visit.

Making Smiles with the KC Monarchs

Student and faculty volunteers from the dental school teamed up with TeamSmile and the KC Monarchs at Legend Field in Kansas City, KS to provide complimentary dental care and education to local youth in need.

Student Participants:
Sophie Rosen, DDS Class of 2025
Nik Wickerhauser, DDS Class of 2025
Vanessa Sena, DDS Class of 2025
Francisco Flores, DDS Class of 2025
Veronica Nguyen, DDS Class of 2025
Morganne Sanchez, DDS Class of 2025
Samantha Foley, DDS Class of 2025
Mohammed Alharbi, DDS Class of 2025
Luke Hanby, DDS Class of 2025
Katelyn Stepanek, DDS Class of 2025
Ashley Hart, DDS Class of 2025
Scott Wilson, DDS Class of 2025
Nhukha Nguyen, DDS Class of 2025
Ayah Alameery, DDS Class of 2025
Andrew Fiaush, DDS Class of 2025
Drew Zieba, DDS Class of 2025
Megan Dart, DDS Class of 2025
Lauren Rowland, DDS Class of 2025
Claire Feng, DDS Class of 2025
Jancee Johnson, DDS Class of 2025
Claire Rogers, DDS Class of 2026
Abigail Sedlacek, DDS Class of 2026
Hira Sukhera, , DDS Class of 2026
Juliana Tomita, DDS Class of 2026

Faculty Participants:
Dr. Becky Smith, Clinical Professor and Team 1 Leader
Dr. CJ Ehrenberger, Clinical Assistant Professor

Alumni Participants:
Dr. Ron Marquez – DDS Class of 2019
Dr. Ryann Burnett – DDS Class of 2023
Dr. Njeri Penda – DDS Class of 2022
Dr. Shan Ao – DDS Class of 2020

For 18 years, the school has collaborated with TeamSmile and Kansas City’s professional sports teams to deliver dental care. TeamSmile is an advocacy group that partners oral health professionals with professional athletic organizations to provide life-changing dental care to underserved children. Children who participate in the program receive free oral health education, screening, treatment, and are taught that the mouth and body are linked for overall health.

View photos from the event here.




STAHR Dental Assisting Internship Program Hosts Inaugural Cohort

The STAHR Dental Assisting Internship Program recently concluded its intensive onsite week, providing six scholars with a comprehensive introduction to dental assisting.

The week commenced with a warm welcome and orientation, followed by detailed sessions on infection control, radiography, and hands-on practice in setting up and breaking down cubicles. Scholars reviewed PPE protocols and engaged in radiography technique practice on manikins, and throughout the week, received CPR/BLS training and participated in infection control activities. Instrument identification, proper positioning, and HVE placement were among the skills practiced under the guidance of experienced faculty.

Deja Lamb, Student Services Coordinator, who helped coordinate and lead the event, said, “A visit to a Sporting KC game added a touch of fun and team bonding to the rigorous schedule.  They also shadowed current dental students during patient care, gaining invaluable practical experience.”

On June 3, the Dental Assisting Interns began their first day in their assigned community health centers, applying the skills and knowledge gained during their onsite training. The onsite bootcamp and the internship are designed to prepare them for dental school, which they will start in August.

One of the interns, incoming dental student, Erin Inman, also shared her thoughts, “Last Week, I got to experience life at the UMKC School of Dentistry and wanted to give a huge thanks to everyone who supported myself and the other STAHR interns during the process. STAHR has given me the opportunity to work this summer as a Dental Assistant to prepare for my entrance into dental school this fall. It was such an awesome experience to learn from such amazing people. I came away with some great techniques, awesome mentors, new friends, and a passion to help out in KC! It’s gonna be a good summer!”

View photos from the week here.

American College of Prosthodontists Presents Lectures at UMKC School of Dentistry

The second meeting of the Joint Missouri and Kansas Sections of the ACP took place on June 8, 2024, at the UMKC School of Dentistry. In addition to the officers and members of the sections, attendees included prosthodontists in private practice and academics, as well as general dentists and industry representatives. This event is intended as an annual event with the vision of bringing together Missouri and Kansas dental professionals and creating a collaborative environment where all can learn and improve to better treat patients.

Dr. Gustavo Leal, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Restorative Clinical Sciences and President of the Missouri Section of the ACP, shared remarks along with Dean Steven Haas and ACP president, Dr. John Ball, Clinical Professor, Department of Restorative Clinical Sciences.

Dr. Adam Ostrand presented a two part lecture, “ A bloody class I filling” and “ Navigating the New World of Practice Transitions”. Dr. Joseph Khalil followed, presenting “Integrating Digital Health Scans and Smile Designs into Multidisciplinary Co-Discovery treatment plans and case presentations.”

After the first two lectures, attendees had the opportunity to enjoy lunch and mingle with colleagues before closing the day with Dr. Hanan Ali, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Restorative Clinical Sciences, who presented, “Prosthetic Approaches for Full Mouth Rehabilitation”.

View photos from the event here.

Celebrating the Transition to Patient Care

“Congratulations for choosing to live a life that matters.”

Dean Steven Haas addressed the crowd of over 1,000 people that came to see the new clinicians from the Dental Class of 2026 and Dental Hygiene Class of 2025 as they were welcomed to clinical practice at Unity on the Plaza on May 31 for the annual Transitioning Ceremony. The ceremony is a momentous occasion culminating year of rigorous study and preparation.

“You have committed yourself to service above self — and committed yourself to caring for others,” said Haas. “As health care professionals, you have chosen to live a life that matters, one guided by ethical principles,” he continued. “And because you have, many individuals will have a better quality of life, go to bed without pain, have a beautiful smile, live longer, healthier lives, walk a little taller — and you will know in your heart that you have made a difference.”

Proceedings were led by Dr. Keerthana Satheesh, Chair, Department of Periodontics, and each class had the opportunity to select an influential keynote speaker, with the dental class selecting Professor Cat Boles, Assistant Professor, Department of Periodontics, and the dental hygiene class selecting Professor Katie Hayes.

Each class composed their own “Code of Ethics” which they read aloud in unison after the keynote speeches.

Dental students were presented with a white coat and dental hygiene students a scrub jacket, signifying what Dr. Satheesh described as, “the beginning of your professional life,” and “a constant reminder of your commitment to your patients, your peers, and the dental profession.” She encouraged students to wear them proudly.


Professor Boles echoed the sentiment, noting the opportunity that students now have as they begin their clinical journey.

“Going forward, each day, you have the chance to personalize each day with your patients. And each patient, is an opportunity for learning and growth,” she said. “This is your chance to display your character, and, let me say, allows you to display your best character.”
Each student then signed their respective code, reaffirming their commitment.

Joy and a sense of accomplishment filled the air as students were congratulated by faculty, staff, classmates and honored guests.

View photos from the event here.

View portrait photos of students in their white coats and scrub jackets here.