Pediatric Dentistry Newsletter

Issue 8, November 2021


Department Chair Update

Dr Karin Weber-Gasparoni

Karin Weber-Gasparoni

As I contemplate what to write in this newsletter, words like “gratitude,” “thankfulness,” “appreciation”... keep coming to my mind.

Therefore, I decided to let my heart speak and tell you, our Pediatric Dentistry Alumni and Friends, how thankful I am for your endless commitment towards our department. You continuous support to our missions of education, patient care, service, and research has transformed the lives of so many pediatric dentistry patients, students, residents, faculty and staff. I am delighted to share with you that we are very close to out $100,000, "Gold Rush" campaign goal to honor our dear friend and colleague Jennifer Wolfe through the Jenifer (Dr. Jen) Wolfe Memorial Funding Campaign. I hope that by the end of 2021, we will meet our goal and be able to start an endowment fund named after Dr. Jen as a perpetual gift to transform this tragic loss into a powerful force for life. Huge thanks as well to all of those who have supported our Pediatric Dentistry Excellence Fund Campaign. We are nearly there! (See the second to last page of this newsletter for fundraiser updates.)

During this year we have been so fortunate to have some of our alumni come to Iowa City to visit us, give lectures, and/or speak to our residents about practice management, the practice of dentistry, and leadership. We love to see our alumni and the residents love to learn from them. Last, but not least, I am thankful for our pediatric dentistry team (including our adjunct faculty) who, despite all the challenges, always come to work with the attitude to serve the children and families we care for and make sure we graduate competent pediatric dentists who will one day have a positive impact on the oral health of so many children in need. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones!

With gratitude, Karin Weber-Gasparoni.

Faculty Feature- Dr. Michael Kanellis publishes novel - “NoVocaine”

"NoVocaine" was originally conceived as a film in the mind of Dr. Michael Kanellis. Newly graduated from the UI Pediatric Dentistry residency program, he shared his idea with his film major roommate and, later over a Sunday dinner, with his father David Kanellis.

Then life happened. Career. Family. You know how it goes. "NoVocaine" appeared to be out of sight, out of mind. But it wasn't dead. Unbeknownst to Michael, his father had taken his screenplay outline and notes, turned them into a manuscript for a novel, and surprised him with it on Christmas Eve seven years later.

That was 1989. Fast forward to 2021, and we now have the complete and published product. It was worth the wait. This crime thriller/comedy drama with signature Kanellis humor is available on Amazon.

More Department Highlights

Teaching Awards

Congratulations to Dr. Kecia Leary on receiving the 2021 Collegiate Teaching Award. Dr. Leary was presented the award by COD Interim Dean Galen Schneider.

Kecia Leary Receives Collegiate Teaching Award from Interim Dean Schneider

College Ambassador Mary Akers

Mary Akers, Dental Assistant Supervisor, was celebrated this past May (2021) for being selected for membership into the College of Dentistry Ambassador Club. Honorees are recognized for their commitment to promoting excellence in the teaching, research, patient care, or administrative functions of the COD. Mary was selected by a committee made up of of previous awardees.

“Mary leads by example and is a true role model for all of us.”

- Dr. Weber-Gasparoni

Cathy Skotowski receives alumni award

2020 UI Dental Alumni Association's Dental Educator of the Year Cathy Skotowski was recognized at this year's Double Alumni Re- union reception held September 17, 2021 at the Radisson Hotel in Coralville. Dr. Weber-Gasparoni (pictured here) was her presenter.

Dr. Sofia Iribarren

It is with great honor that we announce Dr. Sofia Iribarren will be awarded the Colgate Resident Student Scholarship from the Hispanic Dental Association. This is a great honor, Dr. Iribarren was recognized for her research as well as her service to the community.

Alumni Guest Speakers at CE Course

Dr. Steven Adair (1976) and Dr. Henry Fields (1975) are seen here with Dr. Arthur Nowak (center) for the Arthur Nowak Professorship CE course that took place on Friday, October 15, 2021. Both shared their expertise on several pertinent topics. Be sure to check Upcoming Events on the last page of this newsletter for next year's dates and alumni weekend activities.

Special Thanks to Dr. David Johnsen

The Department of Pediatric Dentistry welcomes back Dean Emeritus Dr. David Johnsen after 25 (plus) years of serving as dean of the college. He was guest of honor at the alumni pregame social prior to this year's Homecoming football game.

Dr. Johnsen will be active in the development of teledentistry with our residents. Additionally, he will continue his involvement with fundraising, teaching, and sitting on the advisory committee for the P50 NIH Fall Oral Cancer Center proposal.

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New Appointments!

Rosalyn Wendel: Joined September 2021 From Atkins, Iowa
Fun Fact: Graduated in 2017 from Mt. Mercy the same year her oldest son graduated from Central College, and her youngest son from Center Point-Urbana High School.

Pedo Values in Action!

One of the prominent values of the UI Pediatric Dentistry Department is caring for children with limited access to oral health services. We are so proud of dental assistant Arianna Weeks who volunteers on Mondays with the Iowa City Free Medical Clinic (FMC) demonstrating her above and beyond attitude for her profession. The FMC is a non-profit organization that provides dental care to people in the Iowa City and surrounding areas who would not otherwise have access to care or insurance. Way to represent, Arianna!

I have been volunteering here for a little over three years.
I volunteer because it feels rewarding to make a difference in someone’s life.
The doctors and staff at the FMC care so much about their patients and the patients are so appreciative!
- Arianna

New Residents Welcome Picnic!

New 1st-Year Residents Assist Families with Back-to-School Supplies and Services

On August 11, 2021, our five first-year pediatric dentistry residents — Drs. Ryan Abdelrahim, Jeff Anderson, Ryan Hemsley, Eric Kenney, Macaira Leahy — along with Pedo faculty Dr. Amy Lesch and Cathy Skotowski, participated in SERVOLUTION, a community event sponsored by LIFEchurch in Coralville. Volunteers served over 1,000 children by providing free backpacks, school supplies, and gift cards to purchase shoes, as well as offering free haircuts, vision screenings, dental screenings and fluoride treatments. The department partnered with Johnson County Public Health to coordinate and implement the dental portion of the outreach event. Over 120 children received dental screenings, fluoride treatments, and oral hygiene supplies.

Everyone looks forward to our summer picnic to officially welcome the new first years. Special thanks to Dr. Mabry who so generously opened up his home (and backyard volleyball court) for this fun event.

We Want to Hear From You!

Don’t miss out on invitations and important department news from the University of Iowa Pedo department.

Email our office ( or with your most up-to-date contact information.

Also, SHARE what is happening at home or in your practice so that we can update all of our alumni and friends. WE LOVE PHOTOS! If you want to send us your photos, be sure to give us permission to publish them in the newsletter.

Have you been published recently? Give us a heads up, so we can share your important contributions with our colleagues!

Donald L. Chi, DDS, PhD (2009)

Pediatric Dentistry alumnus Dr. Donald Chi co-authored an article recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Titled "Fluoride Prescribing Behaviors for Medicaid-Enrolled Children in Oregon," the referenced study concluded:

"Physicians play an important role in prescribing fluoride to Medicaid-enrolled children, especially those at increased dental caries risk. Additional research is needed on strategies to ensure that all high-risk children have an opportunity to benefit from prescription fluoride."

For the full article click here.

Dr. Annalee Fencl (2015)

Dr. Fencl is a recipient of the 2021 Fulfilling Iowa’s Need for Dentists (FIND) project award. By committing to practice in underserved communities and dedicate at least 35% of patient visits to those enrolled in Medicaid over a 5 year period, Dr. Fencl will receive funds for student loan repayment. “Resources that would have gone toward student loan payments can now be reallocated and used to continue to care for the vulnerable populations I care deeply about.”

(Fencl, IDA Today, March 2021)

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of two UI Pediatric Dentistry alumni

Dr. Jonathan Shenkin (2003)

Dr. William O’Meara Obituary (1960)

Fundraiser Updates

Iowa Pediatric Dentistry Excellence Funding Campaign

Through our renowned education programs to outreach, your financial support makes a difference in the lives of children all over Iowa.

Will you join our family of donors in fulfilling our missions of patient care, education, service, and research? You can chose to make multi-year pledges or contribute a one-time gift. To learn more about how to donate, please contact:

Dr. Karin Weber-Gasparoni


Kelly Garvin
Director of Development - UI College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics


Jenifer (Dr. Jen) Wolfe Memorial GoldRush Campaign

$79,704 has been raised as of November 2021. See below for some photos of the September benefit concert at Wilson's Orchard and Farm. Music was provided by the local band “HomeBrewed” featuring Dr. Pete Damiano and Dr. Mike Kanellis.

Click here to donate

Can't Miss Event

Pediatric Dentistry's FIRST EVER...


Thursday night 10/27/22 Alumni Family Event

Friday 10/28/22 Continuing Education Dinner - adult only

Saturday 10/29/22 Tailgate and Game

May 26-29, 2022

AAPD Annual Session - San Diego, CA

More Information

May 28, 2022

AAPD Annual Session UI Alumni Reception 5:00-7:30 pm