Arnett receives ADEA Centennial Award for Allied Dental Faculty

Michelle Arnett receives award at ADEA conference

Michelle Arnett, RDH, MS, assistant professor of dental hygiene, is the recipient of the ADEA President Centennial Award for Oral Health Education for Allied Dental Faculty, the American Dental Education Association announced in March.

The Centennial Award is a one-time award presented to one dental school faculty and one allied dental faculty member in honor of the 100th anniversary of the American Dental Education Association (ADEA). The award honors a mid-career faculty member who is considered a “game-changer” in the field, having made and continuing to make an impact on oral health education.

Arnett joined the School of Dentistry in 2018, after working in clinical practice for ten years and receiving her Master of Science in Dental Hygiene from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. She teaches periodontology, communications and clinical applications III and IV to dental hygiene and dental therapy learners.

Arnett’s research focuses on motivational interviewing and periodontology. She has overseen four clinical trials and received $360,000 in industry and competitive grants to further her research in these areas, making a real and lasting impact in the delivery of care. 

“I believe that my research will change how dental professionals support individuals through communication approaches to achieve better oral and general health,” Arnett said. Her motivational interviewing research explores the most effective strategies for achieving positive behavioral change in patients. “This is a gap in our knowledge that I am working to fill.”

In addition to her own research, Arnett encourages and mentors students who show an interest in research themselves. “In five years, Yvette Reibel, EdD, LDH, and I have mentored four dental hygiene students and one Master of Dental Therapy student through the research process to publish their work in peer-reviewed journals,” she said. “This is what makes a ‘game-changer,’ in my view: faculty who will role model and mentor the next generation of allied educators and researchers.” 

Arnett was “surprised and honored” to receive the award. “I strive to make a positive impact on dental education, and try to develop and conduct research that advances the profession of dental hygiene,” she said. “This award validated all the late nights grading, providing feedback and meeting with students.”

Arnett’s colleagues agree that she makes a positive, lasting impact—and that she is most deserving of this award.

“Arnett does not protect her knowledge, experiences, or ideas from colleagues or students,” said Yvette Reibel, EdD, LDH, clinical assistant professor and clinical director of the Division of Dental Hygiene. “She shares all that she has in mentorship opportunities for both faculty and students. I have not met a person who is so selfless with her time, projects, and initiatives. She makes others around her be better and do better because of her enthusiasm and openness.”

And Arnett is just getting started.

“This award only fuels my fire to do more!,” she said. “It is the ultimate affirmation that I am making an impact, and my duty as an educator and researcher is to continue with my work as an educator and a mentor.”

Arnett was honored during ADEA’s Annual Session and Exhibition in March.