Instituted to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of pre-doctoral and postdoctoral students who have undertaken research projects focused on oral health, the 42nd annual Professionals Day, held on Wednesday, Oct. 12, captured the inextricable connection between scientific discovery and application of that new knowledge in clinical practice to improve patient care and patient health.
For many years, Professionals Day was organized, nurtured and guided to its current success by Professor Emeritus Ronald Occhionero, who recently retired after 57 years. Because of his leadership, others were able to continue this important tradition, ensuring that the celebration of student scholarly activities remained.
Throughout these many years, the School of Dental Medicine has supported a broad spectrum of student research opportunities through financial support, faculty mentorship and strong residency training programs across the specialty departments. The day includes numerous awards to recognize exemplary projects, with the top prize awarded to a DMD student who represents the SODM in the national student competition at the American Association for Dental, Oral and Craniofacial Research (AADOCR) meetings the following March.
The morning began with poster presentations of research projects by DMD students, residents and fellows. As faculty members, students and judges circulated through each room, student researchers shared an overview of their findings and answered questions.
Later in the day, Dean Kenneth Chance opened up the oral presentation segment, welcoming all in attendance and Associate Professor Catherine Demko served as moderator for the oral presentations. Throughout the afternoon, seven DMD students described the objectives, methods and results of their research projects and answered questions from the audience. All of the students and residents were exceptional, however the judges felt that several went above and beyond—congratulations to the following winners:
Vibeke K. Nygaard Award: Kristen Almenario, DMD Class of 2026
Guenther M. Hans Award: May Lin, DMD Class of 2025
Omicron Kappa Upsilon (OKU) Award: Emily Fromel and Kunwoo Shin, DMD Class of 2025. Note: Dean Kenneth Chance serves as the president of OKU.
Greater Cleveland Dental Society Award: Muhammad Sohail, Chief Resident, Department of Periodontics
Student Competition Advancing Dental Research and Its Application (SCADA) Award: Shu Tu, DMD Class of 2025
Professionals Day continued with three faculty research presentations from Department Chair of Periodontics Gian Pietro Schincaglia, who discussed the SODM clinic use of the Yomi Robot for precision implants; Associate Dean, Clinical and Translational Research, Suchitra Nelson, who shared about her community-based Oral Health Disparities clinical trials; and Department Chair of Biological Sciences Aaron Weinberg, who presented his translational work on early detection of oral cancer.
The day was organized by Associate Professor Catherine Demko with the judging team led by Associate Professor Ibrahim Tulunoglu and the following administrative staff supported the day’s activities: Heather Ramsey, Kaitlyn Sterl, Heidi McKee and Lasaundra Acre.
The Vibeke K. Nygaard Award, a non-research award is given to a D1 student for students who have demonstrated the greatest achievement in both the didactic and clinical components of both the Dental Anatomy and Masticatory Dynamics courses. Awarded to Kristen Almenario by Dr. Roma Jasinevicius.
The Greater Cleveland Dental Society (GCDS) award is for the best graduate student poster presentation. Awarded to Muhammad Sohail, Department of Periodontics, by Dr. Joseph Leon, representing the GCDS.
The Omicron Kappa Upsilon award presented to Kunwoo Shin and Emily Fromel by Dr. Roma Jasinevicius with Dr. Ibrahim Tulunoglu.
The Guenther M. Hans Award presented to May Lin by Dr. Mark Hans, son of Guenther M. Hans.
The Student Competition Advancing Dental Research and Its Application (SCADA) is the top prize for the DMD students. The winner is the CWRU SoDM representative at the AADOCR meeting in Portland, OR. Dr. Catherine Demko presented Shu Tu with the award.