Third annual alumni weekend brings nearly 300 to campus

A group of alumni smile and talk in McNamara

The School of Dentistry hosted its third annual Alumni Weekend on September 29 and 30.

Nearly 300 alumni, faculty, staff and students gathered together to share knowledge, explore the school and connect with one another. The classes of 1973, 1988, 1998 and 2013 hosted individual reunions in connection with the school’s event.

The weekend began on Friday with the Charles F. Schachtele Memorial Symposium in Oral Biology, featuring presentations from Kristin Artinger, PhD, Associate Dean of Research and Discovery, Hiroshi Nakato, PhD, representing the Developmental Biology Center and the College of Biological Sciences, Frank Albert, PhD, of the College of Biological Sciences, and keynote speaker Samantha Brugmann, PhD, of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

The symposium honors Charles F. Schachtele, a microbiologist and researcher who spent decades at the School of Dentistry in roles including director of the Dental Research Institute, Associate Dean of Research, professor and researcher.

“Charlie was a dynamic guy who loved students, loved Minnesota and had a real appreciation for good science, no matter the discipline,” reflected Mark Herzberg, DDS, PhD, professor of basic science as the event kicked off. “He would’ve enjoyed this program immensely. It’s exactly the kind of thing he tried to build.”

In her keynote, Brugman shared her work on modeling and treating ciliopathic conditions.

New to this year’s symposium, graduate students in oral biology, the Master of Science in Dentistry and the Master of Science in Dental Hygiene also participated in a Three-Minute Thesis competition for eligibility in the University-wide competition.

Five learners competed, sharing their areas of research expertise. Winning the competition was Aryan Shekarabi, a second-year DDS/PhD learner who studies the gut microbiome and its role in neurodevelopment. Shekarabi also won the audience choice award. Sarah Aitken, DDS/PhD ’29, was named runner-up of the competition.

A Gophers Hiring Gophers event brought together alumni with open positions and current students to network and explore job opportunities.

On Friday evening, the school celebrated its Distinguished Alumni Award Recognition, honoring two outstanding alumni who have made significant accomplishments. This year’s honorees are Gary Anderson, DDS ’80, MS ’83 and Katrina Sanders, RDH, BSDH ’07, MEd, RF.

Following the ceremony was an all-alumni and all-school reception, where faculty, staff, students and alumni joined together at McNamara Alumni Center to reminisce, share stories and enjoy one another’s company.

“I am always impressed by the things our alumni are doing,” reflected Mays in remarks during the event. “I am honored to serve as dean of such a great school.”

On Saturday, alumni returned to the school for breakfast and a continuing education program featuring Distinguished Alumni Awardee Katrina Sanders, entitled Getting them to A.S.K for Treatment. Finally, students provided tours of the school to alumni.

Individual reunions continued throughout the weekend, and alumni had the opportunity to enjoy the University’s Homecoming, including a football game against Louisiana.

Thank you to our alumni who joined us back on campus for a weekend filled with scientific exploration, camaraderie and connection.  

Click on the above image to view additional photos from the events.