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Graduating seniors present their Pathways projects5 min read

April 13, 2018

Graduating seniors present their Pathways projects5 min read

Ann Arbor, Mich., April 13, 2018 -– Graduating dental students in the Class of 2018 brought their four-year Pathways Program research projects to a close Friday by presenting their investigations into a wide range of topics from microbiology to oral health education.

More than 100 students presented about 60 posters and table displays during the annual Pathways Day. The Pathways Program is a self-directed study that allows students to research areas of their choosing within dentistry that go beyond their coursework and training as dentists. Projects fall into three categories: research, leadership or healthcare delivery.

The following students won awards, as judged by faculty, who serve as mentors for the students during their four years of shaping and completing their projects:

From left: Dan Chiego, Dean Laurie McCauley, Cristiane Squarize, John Le, Rogerio Castilho, William Giannobile and Tracy de Peralta.

• John Le -– Research Pathway Directors Choice Award – Oral Presentation: “FIG4 Positively Contributes to Wound Healing.” Mentors: Cristiane Squarize and Rogerio Castilho..

From left, Dean Laurie McCauley, Todd Ester, Blake Bufford, Mark Pinsky, Domenica Sweier and Tracy de Peralta.

• Blake Bufford -– Leadership Pathway Directors Choice Award – Oral Presentation: “Is Information About the Road to Dentistry Lacking on Undergraduate Institutions’ Websites?” Mentor: Todd Ester.

From left, Dean Laurie McCauley, Stephanie Munz, Jennifer Dolan, John Hamerink and Tracy de Peralta.

• Jennifer Dolan -– Healthcare Delivery Pathway Directors Choice Award – Oral Presentation: “Maxillary and Mandibular Non-Hodgkin Lymphomas Resembling Periapical Lesions.” Mentor: Stephanie Munz.

• Tarek Metwally -– Research Pathway Directors Choice Award – Poster: “Galanin receptor 2 induces EGFR in Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma.” Mentor: Nisha D’Silva.

• Kimberly Barrett -– Leadership Pathway Directors Choice Award – Poster: “Identifying Barriers to Oral Healthcare by Pregnant Women in Michigan.” Mentor: Domenica Sweier.

• Brandon Scott, Timothy Obradovich, Joseph Fazzio -– Healthcare Delivery Pathway Directors Choice Award – Poster: “Dental and Dental Hygiene Students’, Faculty Members’ and Parents of Pediatric Dental Patients’ Understanding of Food Sugar Content Based on Nutritional Labels.” Mentor: Elisabeta Karl.

• Alisa Dvarishkis -– Healthcare Delivery Pathway Directors Choice Award – Table: “Increasing Clinical Knowledge Through the Use of an Interactive Checklist System.” Mentor: Stephen Stefanac.

Pathways Day keynote speaker Dr. Timothy McKay, an astrophysicist and the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Physics at U-M,  spoke on “Quantifying Uniqueness: Characterizing the Student Experience in an Information Age.” McKay is leading a project that examines how universities can do a better job of measuring student success both academically and as a person. The traditional academic transcript, for example, is a compact, often two-page paper summary that doesn’t even list the full title of most courses, elevates the grade point average above a lot of other meaningless numbers and doesn’t describe what was required to pass or excel in a course. It says nothing of the countless factors that go into a student’s total experience in terms of academics, leadership, opportunities pursued, risks taken and the often exponential development a student undergoes during their college years.

McKay notes that the old model was created long before the digital age; now, nearly every piece of work done by a student is preserved electronically. A modern student record should inform the student, the university, other educational institutions and potential employers, among others, from the start to the finish of the university journey. “You need to understand where a person is coming from, their background,” McKay said. “We need to know what they are interested in, what their goals are, how they think about their identity and how that evolves with time. What concerns they have, what is their purpose? Getting better information allows the university to better interact with each individual.”

McKay said he envisions a student record with numerous dashboard measures that help a student decide how they are doing in many areas of learning and life, a compilation that helps them decide where they want to go. That can also help the institution measure its success. Much research and data collection remain, McKay said, and privacy considerations are one of the larger challenges to be studied. “I look forward to an era where we get rid of the industrial version of the university and create a new information age version of the university that looks and feels different, so that all your children when they come to the university won’t have the same ‘I’m only a number’ experience that you might have had in some parts of yours,” McKay told the Pathways students.

Dr. Tracy de Peralta, director of the Pathways Program, thanked students, faculty and staff for their contributions to the program during this class’s four-year journey. Other members of the Pathways team are Dr. Carol Anne Murdoch-Kinch, associate dean for academic affairs; Dr. John Hamerink, director of the Healthcare Delivery Pathway; Drs. Domenica Sweier and Mark Pinsky, directors of the Leadership Pathway; and Dr. Dan Chiego, director of the Research Pathway. Staff members Charlene Erickson and Becky Flynn are the program coordinators.


The University of Michigan School of Dentistry is one of the nation’s leading dental schools engaged in oral health care education, research, patient care and community service.  General dental care clinics and specialty clinics providing advanced treatment enable the school to offer dental services and programs to patients throughout Michigan.  Classroom and clinic instruction prepare future dentists, dental specialists, and dental hygienists for practice in private offices, hospitals, academia and public agencies.  Research seeks to discover and apply new knowledge that can help patients worldwide.  For more information about the School of Dentistry, visit us on the Web at: www.dent.umich.edu.  Contact: Lynn Monson, associate director of communications, at dentistry.communications@umich.edu, or (734) 615-1971.