OKU-Sutro Excellence Day Showcases Outstanding Work at the Dental School

at Excellence Day

Examples of excellence at the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry across clinical care, research and community service were on full display during the OKU-Sutro Excellence Day celebration held May 8, 2024.

Held annually, this longstanding tradition offers the school community the opportunity to publicly share their projects with colleagues, faculty, staff, alumni and special guests. Although there is a competitive component, Excellence Day is primarily a collaborative celebration of the multi-dimensional interests and talents of students, residents and colleagues.

Dr. David Ojcius, chair of the OKU-Sutro Excellence Day Committee, opened the event with a greeting to attendees, followed by welcome remarks from Dean Nader Nadershahi.

Keynote guest speaker Dr. Ina Stelzer presented “Leveraging Blood Immune Cell Function and Bioinformatics to Improve Pregnancy Health Management.” A pregnancy immunologist, Dr. Stelzer is assistant professor at the University of California, San Diego, in the department of pathology, as well as the director of reproductive immunology at the Center for Perinatal Discovery, which promotes collaborations between the obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics, and pathology departments.

“Dr. Stelzer’s speech made clear the association between oral health and the outcome of pregnancy,” said Dr. Ojcius. “In addition, the multi-omic approaches described in her presentation are being used in our school to identify biomarkers that can predict the risk of developing oral cancer.”

Students with poster

The event then moved to the clinical and lobby sections of the second floor, where students and residents had arranged exhibitions and posters. Faculty judges evaluated over 80 projects and engaged in discussions with the presenting students and residents. Clinical cases included implant dentistry, removable prosthodontics, restoration, endodontics, orthodontics and dental hygiene. Posters featured research projects, community health service and leadership, literature review and Personalized Instructional Program (PIP) projects. The event also included presentations from students in the Audiology program in Pacific’s School of Health Sciences.

Eighteen first-year students in the International Dental Studies program competed in the IDS First Year Literature Review category.

“I love just listening to and learning about other people’s research,” said first-year dental student Niki Panahi Zadeh. “It really shows how much work and effort that they put into every single project. Every one of them has been a little bit personalized to their own personal interests.”

Her own such interest is in the field of orofacial clefts. “My own project really stems from a passion; I wanted to explore the field of cleft lip and palate in a way to pay my respects to my childhood friend with this condition. I was so happy to finish this project with help and mentorship from the orthodontic research scholar as well as Drs. Tolar and Tolarova.”

Students also discussed the results of their PIP projects, which were completed with guidance from their faculty advisors in the categories of community health service and promotion, bench or clinical research, and teaching material creation.

Madison Brown, a senior in the DDS program, presented in the PIP Teaching Material Creation category.

“Competing in Excellence Day is more about being a leader and showing other people the potential,” Brown said. “For my PIP project, I want other student leaders to see how they can go above and beyond in their student organizations by having materials to help students propel in their future success after graduation. I love learning from other people’s cases and learning how I can use their experiences for my future cases as well.”

Awards will be presented to students during an upcoming Brown Bag meeting with Dean Nadershahi and at the Alumni/Graduate Banquet during Commencement Weekend.

OKU-Sutro Excellence Day activities were sponsored by the school’s Omicron Kappa Upsilon (OKU) chapter, Henry A. Sutro Award Endowment, Dugoni School Annual Fund,  California Dental Arts, Ultradent and Vakker.

Omicron Kappa Upsilon is a national dental honor society founded in 1914 at Northwestern University. The Dugoni School chartered its Delta Delta Chapter in 1933 to encourage scholarship and advance ethical standards of the dental profession. Membership is limited to 12% of the graduating class on the basis of scholarship, character and leadership.

speaker giving presentation