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Dental faculty receive honor society’s teaching awards


Omicron Kappa Upsilon, the national honor society for dentistry, presented both of its national teaching awards to Indiana University School of Dentistry professors in 2013.

Dr. Jeffrey Platt, Ralph W. Phillips Scholar in Dental Materials and director of the Division of Dental Biomaterials in the Department of Restorative Dentistry, received the Stephen H. Leeper Award for Teaching Excellence; and Dr. Kelton Stewart, assistant professor of orthodontics and director of the orthodontic clinic in the Department of Orthodontics and Oral Facial Development, received the Charles Craig Teaching Award.

The awards were presented in March during an OKU Supreme Chapter ceremony in Seattle.

The Leeper Award recognizes creativity in teaching and consistent excellence in dental education. Platt joined the full-time IU School of Dentistry faculty in Indianapolis in 2000, after serving as a full-time Fort Wayne practitioner and part-time professor in the IU Dental Education program on the Fort Wayne campus. A graduate of IU’s dental and dental materials degree programs, he has made it a priority throughout his teaching career to bring clinician experiences into dental materials’ classrooms and laboratories and the dental school’s Comprehensive Care Clinics. He is described as a professor who teaches with passion.

Platt’s achievements include his incorporation of instructional technology into the dental curricula. He brought remote-response devices into the dental school classrooms that allowed for active student feedback and anonymous participation during large lectures. He has received Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis grant support to purchase the technology needed to provide enhanced instruction in laboratory experiences before students begin in the clinics, and he was a key contributor to the evaluation team that guided the installation of Computer-Aided Design/Computer-Aided Manufacturing technology for students’ use in performing restorative dental procedures.

As a member of the American Dental Education Association Commission on Change and Innovation Liaisons, Platt brought the concept of Critical Appraisal Topics to the IU School of Dentistry curriculum. Key elements of the concept were incorporated into the school’s problem-based learning and dental materials courses in the predoctoral curriculum.

Since 2005, Platt has been the primary research mentor for 31 master’s and Ph.D. degree students and co-mentor for another 20 students. Students formerly under his guidance, many of whom became award recipients in their own right, are now contributing to dentistry in 16 countries. They also have made substantial contributions to the peer-reviewed literature and to meetings around the globe focusing on scholarship and research.

Platt’s own teachings in materials science are not limited to the IU School of Dentistry; he routinely reaches out to the dental community locally and as far away as Japan and Kenya to present continuing education courses.

He has served as editor-in-chief of the international journal Operative Dentistry since 2010.

The Craig Award recognizes educators who have five or fewer years of experience but have demonstrated innovative techniques in the art and science of dental education.

In the five years that Stewart has been a member of the IU dental faculty, he has quickly developed the skills and talent that not only bring excellence to his teaching but also motivate his students to be lifelong learners. He himself came to IU directly from his own years as a student in the orthodontic and health professions education degree programs at Baylor College of Dentistry, where he also earned his dental degree.

He is considered a role model by both his students and peers; his leadership style in teaching and in interacting with colleagues has enhanced the overall culture and environment within IU School of Dentistry.

His teaching techniques include treatment simulations by computer-assisted imaging, use of interactive lecture tools such as audience-response systems, and incorporating orthodontic technique instruction through the simulation lab. He devotes a good deal of time to mentoring students both in groups and in one-on-one instruction, and he is heavily involved in both graduate and predoctoral orthodontic education. On the national front, he has been a member of the governing board for the Student Clinicians of the American Dental Association and a test-item constructor for the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations. He is currently secretary of the American Dental Education Association Section on Orthodontics.

Outside his specialty field, Stewart also demonstrates that he has an important role to play as a health care professional in embracing the needs of the community at large. Samples of his volunteerism include service as an educator and clinician for the dental school’s Shelter Sealant, Dental Summer Institute and International Service Learning programs; Indiana Black Expo health fair; and careers fairs for both the campus and local school systems. His volunteerism furthers his efforts to inspire students to engage in similar pursuits and gives rise to his emerging reputation in central Indiana as an ambassador for the dental school.