Faculty, students engage in research and leadership opportunities at ADEA 2024 Annual Session

Faculty and students pose for a photo at ADEA

Members of the School of Dentistry community shared research, networked and learned at this year’s American Dental Education Association (ADEA) Annual Session.

Held in New Orleans from March 9-12, the 101st yearly conference focused on the theme of “New Beginnings, Endless Opportunities” and invited faculty, staff and learners from dental schools across the country to engage with one another.

Dean Keith Mays partakes in an exhibition at a booth at the ADEA Annual Session while students observe

Faculty members shared their research expertise in a variety of poster presentations. Michael Henderson, DDS ’17, director of the Mobile Dental Clinic, and Angela Hastings, DMD, clinical associate professor and director of the Division of Outreach and Community Engagement, presented their poster, entitled “University of Minnesota’s partnership with UCare meets patients where they are utilizing a Mobile Dental Clinic while community engagement efforts deepen student understanding of social determinants of health.”

Attending and presenting at the conference was exciting for Henderson, who is new to dental education. “The conference allows faculty and staff to connect with colleagues across the country,” he said. “I am a firm believer that the more minds come together, the better. The value of the dental education community coming together to engage in further development and the progression of our institutions is one of immense benefit to students and patients.”

Henderson particularly enjoyed connecting with colleagues and building relationships. “It is easy to become caught up in the day in and day out of work and become siloed in our roles,” he reflected. “Meeting like-minded individuals and discussing various topics and challenges specific to dental education with them was an immense benefit to me.”

Faculty pose at the 2024 ADEA poster session

Michelle Arnett, RDH, MS, assistant professor of dental hygiene, attended the conference with two poster presentations. She was primary investigator—alongside team members Yvette Reibel, EdD, LDH, assistant professor of dental hygiene and director of the Master of Science in Dental Hygiene, researcher Danna Paulson, MSDH, RDH, CCRP, and Christine Blue, DHSc, MS, RDH, associate professor emeritus and former Assistant Dean for Faculty Development—on “Topics Emerged from Brief Motivational Interviewing: A Randomized Clinical Trial,” focusing on the success of brief-MI for oral health care home behaviors and other topics. She was also a collaborator on Reibel’s poster, “Outcomes of an undergraduate research mentorship program: A pilot study.”

Arnett finds value in sharing information widely about the school’s research, particularly the innovations pursued by the Division of Dental Hygiene, as well as in connecting with others.

“ADEA is one of my favorite conferences,” she reflected. “I can obtain credits I need for didactic teaching, and I get to meet educators and researchers. I have built friendships and relationships with colleagues in dental education across the nation, and it’s great to reconnect with these brilliant individuals who love education and research as much as I do!”

Students also got their fair share of connection, growth and learning at ADEA.

Yu Sun poses in front of an ADEA poster
Yu Sun, DDS '27

First-year student Yu Sun, DDS ’27, first learned about ADEA through the Academic Dental Careers Fellowship Program. She enjoyed “an enlightening experience” with “the opportunity to meet and interact with dental professionals and educators from various backgrounds, allowing me to gain diverse perspectives and insights into the field.”

Sun was particularly drawn to talks by powerful individuals, including Maurice Ashley, the first African American chess Grandmaster, and Katya Echazarreta, the first Mexican-American female astronaut. “Their stories have motivated me to adopt a similar resilience and strategic-thinking mindset in my studies and in my future career.”

Sun reflected on the “exceptional opportunity” the conference provides. “Imagine the extent of outstanding educators gathered in one place: the diversity of perspectives and the collective wisdom present offer unparalleled learning and professional development opportunities,” she said. “The conference is not only a platform for educational enrichment but also a significant avenue for enhancing leadership skills.”

Sophie Chweya and another student pose in front of an ADEA sign
Sophie Chweya, DDS '26, and Ena Mucevic, DDS '26

Ena Mucevic, DDS ’26, and Sophie Chweya, DDS ’26, attended the session as part of the Student Diversity Leadership Program, a two-day interactive program providing professional development, exploration of leadership issues and connection during the conference. The 2024 program focused on emergency preparedness to advance oral health.

Mucevic enjoyed “the opportunity to engage with dental students across the nation and discuss topics such as equity, justice and social responsibility in dentistry.” She enjoyed the ability to learn more about healthcare technology, research and education from various perspectives—particularly through a lens of diversity.

“Diversity in leadership is necessary everywhere, regardless of profession or circumstance,” she reflected. “In dentistry, we treat patients who come from different backgrounds, with experiences that have made them live life different. Having a diverse set of leaders, such as a diverse dental student group, would allow the patient to feel represented. And having diversity in leadership allows students to also learn from individuals who may not have the same background. This enhances culturally competent education and provides diverse perspectives.”

Chweya also looked forward to connecting with other students, as well as meeting pre-dental students from underrepresented backgrounds and encouraging them with her own experiences.

She enjoyed the leadership program, which “expanded my view of the role of dentistry during times of crisis and the importance of emergency preparedness no matter where you are.”

Chweya considers diversity in leadership to be “not only valuable, but vital.” She continued, “it’s imperative that different voices have a say when it comes to who has a seat at the table and who is making decisions. This is even more important in education.” 

That passion for embracing diversity and working for change was engaged even more after Chweya’s experience at ADEA.

“As I move along in my studies and in leadership, I will take what I have learned with me—including making sure I am more aware of emergency protocols that are in place and the role that I can play,” she said. “I want to ensure that when faced with future public health emergencies, equity concerns are addressed alongside overall and oral health concerns. This program also opened my eyes to the importance of advocacy, making sure that I am aware of the policies that are in place and how they affect the dental field and different patient populations.”

No matter their reason for attending, School of Dentistry community members showcased their excellence and gained insight into dental education from across the country at this year’s ADEA Annual Session.