2023 Spring Synergy Awards

Dr. Lee Ann Brady and Dr. Alex Delgado
Dr. Lee Ann Brady, UFCD alumna and Director of Education at the Pankey Institute, and Dr. Alex Delgado, Director of Continuing Dental Education.

The awards are in! A huge thank you to everyone who made the UF College of Dentistry’s 2023 Spring Synergy event successful on March 31. The annual research day celebration, held right on the UF Academic Health Center campus at the HPNP Reception Hall and Auditorium this year, honors oral health research, continuing education and spotlights the UFCD chapter of the American Student Dental Association, which sponsored lunch and the afternoon vendor fair.

UFCD was proud to welcome DMD Class of 1988 alumna Lee Ann Brady, D.M.D., as the Robert L. Kaplan Scholar, while our very own associate professor Yenisel Cruz-Almeida, MSPH, Ph.D., served as the research keynote presentation.

Dr. Robert L. Kaplan
Dr. Robert L. Kaplan

Spring Synergy and the Robert L. Kaplan Scholar presentation are annually supported by the Robert L. Kaplan Visiting Professorship Fund. Robert L. Kaplan, D.D.S., past president of the American Academy of Restorative Dentistry, was the chairman of the Dental Advisory Committee in 1969 that was instrumental in making the case to the Florida Legislature for a dental school in the state of Florida, thus playing a critical role in establishing our college. The South Florida Dental Association sponsored a campaign to establish the visiting professorship honoring Dr. Kaplan after he passed away in 1989.

Brady, Director of Education at the Pankey Institute and owner of Desert Sun Smiles Dental Care in Glendale, Arizona, presented, “Occlusion in Everyday Dentistry,” while Cruz-Almeida, who serves as the Associate Director of the University of Florida’s Pain Research & Intervention Center of Excellence, followed with, “Understanding Pain and Aging Interactions Using Artificial Intelligence.” Both captivated the audience of faculty, students, residents and other attendees through the morning of continuing education.

Dr. Yenisel Cruz-Almeida
Dr. Yenisel Cruz-Almeida, Associate Director of UF’s Pain Research & Intervention Center of Excellence.

Over 50 students, residents, postdoctoral associates and faculty took part in the poster presentations following the morning keynotes. The college awarded first and second-place prizes in four different poster-presentation categories: undergrad/pre-dental, DMD, MS/residents and PhD/postdoctoral.

First-place winners received a $1,000 travel award, $500 for second place, to use toward a professional/research conference before December 21, 2024.

Additionally, each year at Spring Synergy the college awards one student representative an all-expenses paid trip on behalf of Dentsply Sirona to represent UFCD at the American Association of Dental, Oral and Craniofacial Research, or AADOCR, annual meeting to compete in the Student Competition for Advancing Dental Research and its Application, or SCADA, competition.

Callahan Katrak
DMD/PhD candidate Callahan Katrak

That means the student’s plane ticket, three nights lodging and meeting registration are taken care of for next year’s AADOCR meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, while each student representative from dental institutions across the country will present their research in the SCADA competition for the chance to win a $1,000 (first place), $750 (second place) or $500 (third place) cash prize.

UFCD students are always well represented at AADOCR. At this year’s meeting, DMD/PhD students Natalie Atyeo and Callahan Katrak both won awards – Atyeo the National Student Researcher Award, and Katrak the Dr. Susan Hollingshead second-place award for the Mini Symposium for Young Investigators in the AADOCR Microbiology/Immunology Subgroup.

Atyeo and Katrak subsequently placed first and second in the Spring Synergy DMD/PhD poster presentations.

Spring Synergy Awards

Miles Turner, Class of 2024
Miles Turner, DMD Class of 2024

Student Competition for Advancing Dental Research and its Application – UFCD Winner/Representative

Miles Turner, mentored by Dr. Mateus Rocha and Dr. Dayane Oliveira | Research: The use of lattice design to tune the mechanical properties of 3D-printed sports mouthguards

Undergrad/Predental Poster Presentation Awards

  • 1st place: Timothy Cassella, mentored by Dr. Mateus Rocha and Dr. Dayane Oliveira | Research: Polymerization Kinetics of a Dental Resin-Based Composite Using Different Light Curing Protocols
  • 2nd place: Pritika Patel, mentored by Dr. Jean-Francois Roulet and Dr. Mateus Rocha | Research: Spectral Analysis and Performance of a Multi-Wave LCU with Different Accessories

DMD Poster Presentation Awards

  • 1st place: Ben Marusko, mentored by Dr. Frank Gibson and Dr. Fernanda Rocha | Research: Macrophage Plasticity and Inflammatory Response Variations to Porphyromonas gingivalis
  • 2nd place: Jenna Stephany, mentored by Dr. Josephine Esquivel-Upshaw | Research: High Sensitivity CIP2A Detection for Oral Cancer Using a Rapid Transistor-Based Biosensor Module

MS/Residents Poster Presentation Awards

  • 1st place: Shawki Abed, co-authors – S. Alramadhan, I. Bhattacharyya, S. Fitzpatrick, M.N. Islam | Research: Comparison Between NOR-1 and DOG-1 Immunohistochemistry Staining in the Diagnosis of Salivary Acinic Cell Carcinoma
  • 2nd place: Raul Perez, co-authors – P. Fitzgerald, C. Dunlevy, P. Nicholson, L. Kanter, R. Jenkins, K. Schey | Research: A Prospective, Observational Clinical Study of the Safety, Effectiveness and Clinical Benefits of the T3 Dental Implant System

PhD/Postdoctoral Poster Presentation Awards

  • 1st place: Natalie Atyeo, mentored by Dr. Bernadett Papp | Research: KSHV Infection Degrades Antiviral Factors FOXK1/2 in Oral Epithelial Cells
  • 2nd place: Callahan Katrak, mentored by Dr. Jacqueline Abranches | Research: Partners in Grime: Exploring the role of catalase in synergism between Candida albicans and Streptococcus mutans
Kaplan Scholar Presentation
Robert L. Kaplan Scholar Lecture: Dr. Lee Ann Brady