Spring 2024

Downers Grove, Illinois

Glendale, Arizona


University Achieves New Milestones in Extramural Research and Sponsored Programs

The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP) at Midwestern University achieves new milestones in extramural research and sponsored program awards.

The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP) at Midwestern University, in keeping with its role of cultivating innovation and the pursuit of excellence in scientific advancement within the University community, is pleased to announce new milestones in extramural research and sponsored program awards.

Since the start of fiscal year 2023 and through the first quarter of fiscal year 2024, Midwestern University faculty researchers have received over $14 million in new research and sponsored program awards for research projects and training programs from federal agencies including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the United States Department of Education (DoE), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This amount represents a significant increase in new funding – almost double the amount from the previous fiscal year, and four-and-a-half times the total amount of grant monies from five years ago. There have been 24 newly awarded grants divided between the University’s two campuses in Downers Grove, Illinois, and Glendale, Arizona, since July 2022.

Midwestern University researchers have historic levels of financial support for their projects when considering strong intramural support for research combined with extramural expenditures in research, training, and faculty support programs nearly doubling in the current fiscal year to over $4 million.

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Midwestern University Appoints New Dean of Students

Shannon Sesterhenn, M.S., Ed.D., has been appointed as the new Dean of Students for both the Glendale, Arizona, and Downers Grove, Illinois, campuses.

Kathleen H. Goeppinger, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Midwestern University, is pleased to announce the appointment of Shannon Sesterhenn, M.S., Ed.D., to the position of Dean of Students.

Dr. Sesterhenn began her career with Midwestern University in September 1996 on the University's Downers Grove, Illinois Campus. In 2000, she transferred to the Glendale, Arizona Campus as Assistant Dean of Students and was later promoted to Associate Dean of Students in 2012. In the course of her service to Midwestern, Dr. Sesterhenn established the University's student housing programs, managed student accommodation requests, and performed other critical duties for the University's Colleges and programs while dedicating herself to student matters. She has served as Interim Dean of Students since July 2023 following the retirement of Ross Kosinski, Ph.D., the University's Dean of Students since 1998.

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Midwestern University Names Victoria Franks as Vice President of Multicultural Affairs and Community Outreach

Victoria B. Franks, M.Adm., will work to build intercultural understanding and develop community partnerships in her role as Vice President of Multicultural Affairs and Community Outreach.

Kathleen H. Goeppinger, President and Chief Executive Officer of Midwestern University, is pleased to announce that Victoria B. Franks, M.Adm., has been promoted to Vice President of Multicultural Affairs and Community Outreach.

In her role, Ms. Franks helps develop educational events and service programs that help build intercultural understanding and highlight the diverse backgrounds of its students, faculty, staff, and patients. She chairs the Staff Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Group, serves as a member of the Website Oversight Committee, and is an ad hoc member of the Faculty Senate Diversity Committee and the Alumni Diversity Council. Ms. Franks began her career at Midwestern University in 2008 as the Assistant to the Dean of the Arizona College of Optometry (AZCOPT). She served as Executive Assistant to the President in 2018, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in 2021, and Assistant Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in 2022.

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Top: Dr. Dillon demonstrates imaging of the lumbar multifidi. Bottom right: Course participants listen to Dr. Prodoehl. Left: Teaching assistant Cecilia Hammond (CHS-DG PT ’24) with course participants shows the activation of the abdominal musculature.

Physical Therapy Program Engages Professionals in Ultrasound Applications

The Physical Therapy Program welcomed 36 clinical partners, program alumni, and other physical therapists to the Downers Grove Campus on Saturday, January 27, 2024. They participated in a one-day continuing education course titled “Real-time Musculoskeletal Ultrasound Imaging: Applications to Inform Physical Therapy Practice.”

Course faculty Janey Prodoehl, PT, Ph.D. (CHS-DG), Professor, Thomas Dillon, PT, D.P.T., OCS (CHS-DG), Clinical Assistant Professor, and Teri Elliott-Burke, PT, D.P.T., M.H.S. (CHS-DG), Academic Clinic Coordinator, were assisted by two student teaching assistants from the PT class of 2024, Cecilia Hammond and Brady Aboussleman. The 8-hour course covered the use of real-time musculoskeletal ultrasound imaging (MSK USI) for physical therapists by providing didactic and hands-on practical application of ultrasound imaging to enhance clinical decision-making. Participants learned the fundamentals of ultrasound imaging and the different ways an image is produced across technologies, with hands-on practical training. At the end of the course, participants were ready to apply concepts learned to enhance motor feedback and muscle cuing for their patients in clinical practice, as well as different ways to aid their interpretation of research articles that utilize ultrasound imaging.

A partnership with the Downers Grove Simulation Center enabled the use of both lower-cost handheld units as well as clinical ultrasound units in a ratio of 2 to 3 participants per unit. The event was a success with participant feedback, including a desire to learn more and to have additional opportunities to partner with the University. Funds raised from course registration were applied to the PT program scholarship fund.

Dental Medicine faculty and students from both campuses participate in research examining the link between oral and GI health.

CDMA and CDMI Students, Faculty Explore Oral and GI Health Connections

Midwestern University, in collaboration with the National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIH NIDCR), is spearheading an initiative that will better resolve the connection between oral health and common gastrointestinal disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and functional dyspepsia (chronic indigestion). Faculty and students from the College of Dental Medicine-Arizona (CDMA), the College of Dental Medicine-Illinois (CDMI), and The Center for Health and the Social Sciences (CHeSS) at the University of Chicago received a $3.4 million dollar NIH award to work together on a hybrid research training program and long-term clinical study to delve into this topic.

Gina Agostini-Walesch, Ph.D. (CDMA), Research Assistant Professor, shed light on the collaborative efforts stating, “The University of Chicago is known for training programs in clinical research, which they offer in the form of workshops. The main emphasis of our program is to train new cohorts of dental students in how to do clinical research. When they graduate, they become dental practitioners who can join a national-based practice research network and continue participating in research efforts through Midwestern University. In this way, the University will create a sustainable infrastructure for research-trained clinicians entering the workforce.”

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Faculty, Students Selected for American Medical Association Research Challenge Finals

Students Garrett Borger (CCOM '26) and Srujith Medharametla (CCOM '26), under the direction of Dr. Martinez-Valenzuela, are finalists at the AMA Research Challenge Finals. From left to right: Kevin Link, Muneebah Vaid, Dr. Martinez-Pena y Valenzuela, Srujith Medharametla, and Garrett Borger.

Representing Midwestern University as one of five nationwide finalists at the American Medical Association (AMA) Research Challenge Finals were Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine (CCOM) students Srujith Medharametla (CCOM ’26) and Garrett Borger (CCOM ’26), who conducted a research project under the direction of Isabel Martinez-Pena y Valenzuela, Ph.D. (CGS-Downers Grove), Assistant Professor, Physiology. The AMA Research Challenge is a national multi-specialty research conference for medical students, international medical graduates, fellows, and residents to present and show their research. Dr. Martinez-Pena y Valenzuela, Srujith, and Garrett were at the finals in February.

Their research project, “Effects of Obesity on the Neuromuscular Junction of Genioglossus Muscle and Other Associated Muscles of Respiration” looks at the connection between nerves and muscle as they relate to obesity and obstructive sleep apnea. Specifically, it examines the obesity effects on the genioglossus muscle (GG) which is the largest tongue muscle, and other muscles such as the sternomastoid muscle (ST) and diaphragm muscle.

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Phi Zeta Research Day Offers Faculty/Student Collaboration, Honors Society Induction

Veterinary Medicine students present their research topics during Phi Zeta Research Day.

The annual Phi Zeta (National Veterinary Honor Society) Research Day, sponsored by the University chapter of Phi Zeta, was held at Midwestern University in December on the Glendale Campus. Students, under the guidance of their faculty mentors, gave presentations on their collaborative research.

The students were recommended via faculty vote to either give their presentations orally or in a poster format and went over a variety of topics. At the end of the event, students were inducted as new lifelong members of Phi Zeta with an additional induction to come upon graduation. Mark Acierno, M.B.A., D.V.M., DACVIM (CVM), Professor and Associate Dean, said, “The object of the Phi Zeta Society is to recognize and promote scholarship and research in matters pertaining to the welfare and diseases of animals. Veterinary students can be inducted either in their third or fourth year based on academic merit and moral character.”

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Dental Institute Hosts Free Dental Day for Kids

Over 200 students from the College of Dental Medicine-Arizona (CDMA) students participate in the Give Kids a Smile event.

The Midwestern University Dental Institute held a free dental day in Glendale, AZ on January 20 for kids as part of the nationwide community service event, Give Kids A Smile. About 132 children between the ages of six and fourteen attended and received services such as cleanings, exams, fillings, extractions, root canals, and dental sealants.

David Dodell, D.M.D., Director of Clinical Systems at the Dental Institute said, “The purpose of the event is to provide children in need as much dental care as we can. We aim to address urgent needs first, and if none exist, we provide preventative services such as dental cleanings. Families bring their children to the event, and we do what we can to help them.”

Over 200 dental students from the College of Dental Medicine-Arizona (CDMA) participated in the event, which helps them prepare for their future careers and enhance Midwestern University’s commitment to community service.

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Ceremony Marked Rite of Passage for Nurses to Begin Rotations

The Transition to Practice Ceremony notes the beginning of clinical rotations for graduate nursing students.

Students in the Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.) degree program were honored through a Transition to Practice Ceremony, which commemorated the shift to clinical rotations from coursework. Student accomplishments were emphasized during the ceremony, as well as their professional growth as cohorts and individuals.

“This cohort has been unique as even though they are all online and live in various parts of the state, they have done a great job of finding time to meet together both in person and virtually to study. I have watched them create a special experience where they all use each other’s strengths and weakness to grow together,” said Stephanie Herrick Kays, Ed.D., APRN, FNP-C (CHS-Glendale), Assistant Professor, Graduate Nursing.

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CCOM Holds Annual Mini Medical School for Aspiring Healthcare Students

About 200 medical students, high school students, and select undergraduate students from Saint Xavier University give poster presentations in Cardinal Hall as part of the Mini Medical School.

Midwestern University's Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine (CCOM) students hosted local high school students and select undergraduate students from Saint Xavier University in Chicago for the 2023 Mini Medical School, which was held over five weeks. Medical students offered the participating students mentorship and led the exploration into medical careers, organ systems, anatomy, physiology, and first aid.

The weekly sessions for the high school and college students covered several topics including cardiology and pulmonology, neurology and orthopedics, infectious disease and immunology, and family, internal, and emergency medicine. The Mini Medical School culminated with poster presentation projects between about 200 mentors and the high school students, which were judged by select Midwestern University faculty and students.

Medical student and co-vice president of the Mini Medical Club Amanda Abrams (CCOM '26) said, "I really enjoy working with young high school students and college students and inspiring them to go after their dreams. The students deserve to feel like they can get wherever they want to go in life."

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People with Disabilities and Midwestern Students Twirl the Night Away

Clinical Psychology students from the Class of 2028 facilitate an annual Valentine’s Dance. Pictured (from left) Front row: Jack Berens, Andria Davis. Second row: Hannah Ho, Brenda Sladek, Haegan Kent, Colleen O'Finn, Alyson Garcia, Emilia Ollerais, Robin Moscovitch, Hasena Bangash. Third row: Danielle Roehr, Julie Davis, Sierra Maziur, Mackenzie Leroux, Felicity Rondeau, Aleena Samy, Malcolm Edelin.

Midwestern University hosted a Valentine’s dance, also referred to as a prom, for individuals with mental or developmental disabilities. The dance was held in conjunction with the South East Association for Special Parks and Recreation (SEASPAR), Western DuPage Special Recreation Association (WDSRA), WeGo Buddies at West Chicago High School, Midwestern University Student Services along with the College of Health Sciences and College of Graduate Studies Councils and Clinical Psychology class officers. Over 60 Midwestern University students volunteered, and about 120 attended the dance on the Downers Grove Campus.

Participating students highlighted the impact and importance of the event. “Midwestern University is a healthcare school that promotes equality and intersectionality. It is important to have representation in events such as these. The Clinical Psychology program makes up a very small minority of students, but the clients we serve make up a large portion of the general population,” said Samantha Harper (CHS-Downers Grove Clin Psych ’27). Samantha added, “I hope the students learned something that will help make them better clinicians for differing populations. I also hope this also brings them a newfound respect for adults with disabilities, their caregivers, and those who work at these wonderful organizations.”

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Black History Month Honored with Several Cross-Campus Events

Various student organizations and departments work together to organize Black History Month events on both campuses.

Midwestern University paid tribute to Black History Month with several events on the Downers Grove, IL, and Glendale, AZ, campuses to raise awareness about the month, promote culture, and feature prominent current and historical community members.

In Downers Grove, a display in the Commons during February featured posters of notable figures, including healthcare professionals like William G. Anderson and Roselynn Payne Epps. The showcase also highlighted Black leaders in science, art, media, and athletics. Littlejohn Hall hosted a Black History Month display focusing on STEM innovators such as George Washington Carver and Marie M. Daly. The Downers Grove Campus also organized a Black History Month Celebration Week with events like a Hip Hop Paint Night and a screening of the movie, "Hidden Figures". The University’s National Optometric Association chapter organized a celebration with information about historical figures, cultural food, and a focus on diversity in optometry, where only around two percent of optometrists are Black.

On the Glendale Campus, Black History Month events were held by the Black Student Alliance, Student National Dental Association (SNDA), Student National Medical Association, Student Chapter of the National Association of Black Veterinarians, Student Services, and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). The University community began the celebration week with a community service event via the Black Student Alliance at St. Vincent de Paul. The Black Student Alliance also held a Paint and Sip event for a night filled with art. Student Services and DEI held a Black History Scavenger Hunt with a Black History Fact Question throughout the campus buildings. The Black Student Alliance along with Student Services, DEI, and SNDA hosted BSA Presents with Denise Mills, D.D.S., M.H.A., Ed.D. (CDMA), Clinical Professor. Dr. Mills led the attendees in an activity and a discussion about unconscious biases, and how they can be overcome. The week concluded with a barbeque held by several student organizations.

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Glendale Student Wins Arizona Regional Brain Bee at Midwestern University

Midwestern University student volunteers served as judges, question readers, timers, and scorekeepers at all stages of the 26th Annual Arizona Regional Brain Bee, held on the Glendale Campus.

Midwestern University welcomed some of the state’s top high school students for the 26th Annual Arizona Regional Brain Bee in February. The Brain Bee is an educational competition similar to a spelling bee that focuses on neuroscience.

This year’s Arizona Regional Brain Bee featured 47 students from 15 Valley high schools testing their knowledge of the human brain, how it governs human behavior, and the science that helps medical professionals understand brain function. The event final lasted for 18 rounds.

The top three Brain Bee finishers, in order, were Rishi Suresh (Senior, Mountain Ridge High School, Glendale); last year’s third-place finisher Pranati Chintada (Junior, BASIS Chandler); and Humaid Jaffey (Sophomore, BASIS Scottsdale). Rishi is now eligible to compete at the 2024 U.S. National Brain Bee at the University of Central Florida this spring, with Midwestern offsetting the travel, hotel, and food costs up to $2,000. BASIS Scottsdale was recognized as the overall highest-scoring team for the event.

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AZCOPT Students Provide Free Eye Care for Resettling Refugees

Optometry students and members of SVOSH assist VOSH in giving eyecare to about 185 refugees Pictured (from left) Top row: Ben Malmanger (AZCOPT ’26), Cenza Alfaro (AZCOPT ’26), Nathan Coy (AZCOPT ’25), Josh Huynh (AZCOPT ’25), Ian Ostler (AZCOPT ’25), Harshpreet Ballagan (AZCOPT ’25). Bottom row: Nieves Solis (AZCOPT ’25), Aracelis Aguiar (AZCOPT ’26), Emily Hansen (AZCOPT ’26), Grace Petrykowski (AZCOPT ’26), Allison Lewandowski (AZCOPT ’26), Rachel Piña (AZCOPT ’26).

About a dozen Midwestern University students from the Arizona College of Optometry (AZCOPT) and members of the University chapter of Student Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (SVOSH) assisted close to 185 refugees from Afghanistan, Latin America, Ukraine, and several parts of Africa with their eye care last fall. The students were joined by six optometrists and two opticians from the Arizona chapter of Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH) to provide full, comprehensive eye exams and sunglasses as well as eyeglasses. The optometry team also checked their new patients for several conditions including glaucoma, and offered referrals for eye surgery if needed.

An important part of the entire process was addressing language barriers. Six language translators assisted the team to help communicate in Arabic, Dari, French, Russian, and Ukrainian, and online flyers were made available in Arabic, Dari, English, Pashto, Spanish, Swahili, and Ukrainian.

Optometry student and president of the University chapter of SVOSH Nieves Solis (AZCOPT ’25) was very moved by the experience: “I feel like the refugees are so appreciative,” she shared. “This gave me a different outlook on optometric care. Some patients never had an eye exam. They were extremely grateful. There were also patients that were apprehensive because they didn’t understand dilation drops or the machines they were sitting in.”

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Veterinary Students Learn Lifesaving Skills at RECOVER BLS & ALS Certification Day

Veterinary students practice administering the learned techniques to the dog manikins during RECOVER BLS & ALS Certification Day.

Midwestern University veterinary students on the Glendale Campus had the opportunity to receive RECOVER (Reassessment Campaign on Veterinary Resuscitation) CPR certification for Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Life Support (ALS) along with hands-on training for practice and additional certification.

One of the learned skills for BLS includes maximizing the possibility of survival for cardiopulmonary arrest in small animals. In ALS, students use monitoring equipment and learn how to diagnose electrocardiogram (ECG) arrest rhythm. This experience came as a result of a partnership between the Midwestern University chapter of Student Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society (SVECCS) and United Veterinary Care. The training and certification were organized and planned by SVECCS for a period of about eight months.

Veterinary student Marissa Baird (CVM ’26) on behalf of SVECCS said, “As participants in the event ourselves, we gained an incredible amount of knowledge within the context of emergency medicine that is applicable regardless of our intended area of practice."

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Midwestern University Launches First-Generation Initiative, Honor Society

First-generation students participate in an event on National First-Generation College Celebration Day, by adding stars to a display board of shared experiences.

Midwestern University fosters a supportive, encouraging environment for students who may be the first in their families to pursue higher education, the first of their family branch born in the United States, or the first to pursue a certain field of study. One of the ways the University seeks to support students is through the First-Generation Initiative, where select first-generation students will serve as peer mentors to other students sharing the same or similar experiences. The University’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion recently established a chapter of Alpha Alpha Alpha, or Tri-Alpha, a national honor society created to recognize the achievements of first-generation students, and membership is open to students, faculty, and staff.

At an event to commemorate National First-Generation College Celebration Day, several first-generation students attended to learn more about the services and support provided by Midwestern University. There was a display board of stars with shared experiences of what makes the first-generation experience a strength, and students continually added their stars. The event was open to everyone, and students, faculty, and staff stopped by to learn more about the first-generation identity.

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Occupational Therapy Students, Faculty Provide Snacks to Children in Need

Occupational Therapy students help pack about 45 bags of snacks for the children residing in DuPage Pads shelters.

The Midwestern University chapter of the Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity (COTAD) recognized Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week with an event to pack bags of snacks. The bags were distributed to children living in the shelters of DuPage Pads, an organization that provides support services as well as interim and permanent housing to individuals and families experiencing homelessness. About 45 bags were packed by Occupational Therapy (OT) students and faculty from the College of Health Sciences (CHS).

Occupational Therapy students Danielle Acumabig (CHS-Downers Grove OT ’25), Trisha Mallare (CHS-Downers Grove OT ’25), Earl Bondoc (CHS-Downers Grove OT ’25), and Joceline Rodriguez (CHS-Downers Grove OT ’25) are the co-chairs of COTAD. Danielle said, “Since it is in recognition of hunger and homelessness, I wanted an experience not just to collect and drop off goods, but for all of us to pack it together as teamwork. It’s more fun that way and a good experience for us to do something.” Trisha said, “DuPage Pads is a great organization to work with and collaborate with.”

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Appointments, Awards, and Grants

Julia Beck (AZCOM ’26) was elected as the Student Osteopathic Medical Association (SOMA) National Convention Director for the 2024-2025 year.

Adam Blacker, O.D., M.S., M.B.A. (AZCOPT), Associate Professor, is serving as the National Chair for the American Optometric Association (AOA) Sports and Performance Vision Committee.

Kimberly Bussey, Ph.D. (CGS-Glendale), Assistant Professor, Precision Medicine, was awarded a single-cell sequencing grant from Parse Biosciences as part of their effort to bring single-cell RNA sequencing online at the Arizona State University (ASU) sequencing core.

Annalise Cavender (CVM ’24) received a $5,500 stipend as part of the Veterinary Student Scholar program sponsored by the Morris Animal Foundation.

Clemence Chako, B.V.Sc., Ph.D., DACVIM (CVM), Director, Large Animal Clinic, received the 2023 Zoetis Distinguished Veterinary Teacher Award.

Grace Dorschner (AZCOPT ’26) was named to the Women in Optometry magazine’s Student Advisory Board.

Melissa Flint, Psy.D., FT, CCTP (CHS-Glendale), Professor, Clinical Psychology, received the 2023 Distinguished Service to Psychology Award from the Arizona Psychological Association. Dr. Flint was also appointed by the Arizona Governor’s Office for a position on the Arizona Board of Psychologist Examiners.

Una Hadziahmetovic (AZCOM ’24) was named 2024 AZCOM Student Doctor of the Year.

Rachel Kreisler, V.M.D., M.S.C.E., DACVPM (CVM), Associate Professor, received the 2023 Zoetis Award for Veterinary Research Excellence.

Brooke Major, M.S. (Precision Medicine ’23 & CCO ’25), is the Vice President-Elect of the National Board of Trustees for the American Optometric Student Association. She also received the Trustee of the Year award.

Dakota Marshall (AZCOM ’26) has been named to the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) Board.

Midwestern University and BHHS Legacy Foundation extended their 12-year partnership with a $30,000 grant. The funding will benefit 2,000 Valley high school students in 2024, offering valuable healthcare career experiences. The grant supports Midwestern University's free programs, including the Arizona Regional Brain Bee, Health Sciences Career Day, and Health Careers Institute for High School Students on the Glendale Campus.

Midwestern University received a grant from the H.S. Lopez Family Foundation to expand healthcare career opportunities for rural Arizona high school students. A $14,000 grant from the foundation will fund scholarships for six students to attend the eight-day Health Careers Institute for High School Students (HCI) at Midwestern’s Glendale Campus. This partnership addresses the increasing demand for healthcare workers and aims to reduce healthcare disparities faced by underrepresented individuals in medicine, specifically benefiting high-achieving students in rural areas with limited access to such programs.

Celia Mimms, D.D.S. (CDMI), Clinical Care Coordinator, was appointed to the Wisdom’s Academic Advisory Group for Epic®. The Academic Advisory Group serves as an important forum for leaders from dental schools live on Epic®.

Victoria Nachevnik (CDMI ’26) was selected as one of seven finalists to present her research at the 411 Rapid Research Competition in Clinical Health held at the 2024 International Association for Dental Research (IADR) / American Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research (AADOCR) / Canadian Association for Dental Research (CADR) General Session & Exhibition hosted by the AADOCR National Student Research Group in New Orleans, LA.

Darby Naheedy (CCOM ’25) was awarded the “Sparking an Interest in Pathology Award” by the College of American Pathologists (CAP). The award is given to a student who has demonstrated a strong interest in Pathology as a profession and strives to foster a similar interest among her peers. Darby will use the funds granted to establish a special interest group in Pathology for CCOM at MWU. This project received funding from the CAP Foundation Sparking Interest in Pathology Award.

Trevor Stiede (AZCOPT ’27) received the Eye Care Access Scholarship from Zenni Optical.

Miriam Villa (CDMA ’27) and Alexandra Wyluda (CDMA ’26) received the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Scholarship.

Volkmar Weissig, Sc.D., Ph.D., M.S., B.S. (CPG), Professor, Pharmacology, was appointed to the Rare Diseases Cure Accelerator Data and Analytics Platform Task Force (RDCA-DAP) organized by the Critical Path Institute (C-Path), Tucson, AZ.

Presentations, Speeches, and Community Service

Melinda Burnworth, Pharm.D., FASHP, FAzPA, BCPS (CPG), Professor, Pharmacy Practice, was featured by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) on ASHP TV and in the ASHP Midyear Daily News during the ASHP Midyear Meeting, presenting on advocacy within the pharmacy profession.

Jeffrey Jensen, D.P.M. (AZCPM), Dean, will be giving a keynote lecture, “Global Opportunities in Podiatric Education and Training,” at the Global Podiatry Summit meeting in conjunction with the International Federation of Podiatrists in Iceland in May.

Shanyn Lancaster, M.D., FAAFP, CAQSM (AZCOM), Academic Physician, Midwestern University Comprehensive Care Clinic, served as the Team USA physician for Marathon Swimming at the 2023 Pan-American Games in Santiago, Chile.

Johanna Richey, D.P.M. (AZCPM), Assistant Professor, developed and co-chaired a Resident Education Skills Series course, “Basic Principles of Internal Fixation” and “Advanced Principles of Foot and Ankle Reconstruction,” as part of a collaborative effort between the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) and the AO North American Foundation.

Heather F. Smith, Ph.D. (CGS-Glendale), Professor, Anatomy, was interviewed on National Public Radio (NPR) about her research on the appendix. Dr. Smith was also invited to give the keynote address at the 2024 Western Association of Vertebrate Paleontologists conference.

Jocelin Sisto, M.A., M.M.S., PA-C (CHS-Downers Grove), Assistant Professor, Physician Assistant Program, presented, “The Art of an Aesthetic Facial Consultation” at the Medical Art Aesthetics Institute Summit in Salt Lake City, Utah; “Overview of Lasers in Plastic Surgery” at the Grand Rounds Rush University Medical Center Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in Chicago, IL; and “Practice Management: How to Set Up a Successful Aesthetic Practice” at the Grand Rounds Rush University Medical Center Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in Chicago, IL.

Twelve students from the Glendale Campus were selected to present at the International Eating Disorders Conference (ICED) in New York City, NY:

  • Grace Fitzgibbons (CHS-Glendale CP ’25)
  • Thomas Gorman (CHS-Glendale CP ’25)
  • Talia Gruber (CHS-Glendale CP ’26)
  • David Heaton (CHS-Glendale CP ’27)
  • Jenna Koen (CHS-Glendale CP ’27)
  • Jason Maier (CHS-Glendale CP ’26)
  • Remony Perlman (CHS-Glendale CP ’24)
  • Ritika Rao (AZCOM ‘25)
  • Gwendolyn Riccobene (CHS-Glendale CP ’27)
  • Reece Weitzel (CHS-Glendale CP ’25)
  • Hanah Weldon (CHS-Glendale CP ’25)
  • Kyle Wilson (CHS-Glendale CP ’25)

Faculty and students in the Speech-Language Pathology Program (CHS-Downers Grove SLP) on the Downers Grove Campus participated in the Illinois Speech-Language-Hearing Association Annual in Rosemont, IL. Highlights from the event included:

  • Miriam Carroll-Alfano, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, CBIS, Associate Professor, presented “Concussion and the Speech-Language Pathologist: Knowledge, Legislation, and Management.”
  • Cindy Krizizke, M.S., CCC-SLP, Clinical Assistant Professor, and Audrey Boulds, M.S., CCC-SLP, Clinical Assistant Professor, presented, “Supervising Gen Z: A Guide for Clinical Supervisors.”
  • The Midwestern University Speech-Language Pathology students won first place in the Ethics in Action Video Contest. Participants included: Alexa Arquiza (SLP ’25), Allison Bogs (SLP ’25), Kelly Zaksheske (SLP ’25), Victoria Bailey (SLP ’25), Lauren Aniceto (SLP ’25), Samantha Spaulding (SLP ’25), Alana Batista (SLP ’25), Amslie Howett (SLP ’25), and Meredith Connelly (SLP ’25).
  • The following Midwestern SLP Program students took part in the Knowledge Quest: Paris Burke (SLP ’24), Rachel Lauver (SLP ’24), Kelly Zaksheske (SLP ’25), Joanna Turziak (SLP ’25), and alternate Sara Ryan-Jetha (SLP ’25).
  • Kimberly Hoffer, M.A., CCC-SLP, Associate Professor, Vice President-Elect for the ISHA Division for Professional Services, participated in the Executive Board Meetings and Committee Meetings.
  • Miriam Carroll-Alfano, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Associate Professor, and Jonathan Wilson, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Program Director, SLP Program, participated in the Medical Practice Issues Committee Meeting.
  • Nicole Gilbert, M.S., CCC-SLP, Director of Clinical Education, Kathleen Post, M.S., CCC-SLP, Clinic Coordinator, and Jonathan Wilson, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Program Director, SLP Program, participated in the University Chair and Clinic Directors Meeting.
  • Meredith Fitzgibbons, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Associate Professor, was the Chair of The Student-Initiated Research and Clinical Application Track.
  • Judith Ball, M.S., CCC-SLP, Clinical Associate Professor, and Kimberly Hoffer, M.A., CCC-SLP, Associate Professor, participated in the Ethics Education Committee Meeting.

As part of the MWU Community Health Lecture Series, the following presentations were given by Glendale Campus faculty for the Glendale Library-Foothills Branch:

  • “The Importance of Foot Health: An Owner’s Guide” presented by Evelyn Heigh-Rosen, D.P.M. (AZCPM), Assistant Professor
  • “Beyond Rare: Bridging the Gap of Rare Disease Knowledge” presented by Melinda Burnworth, Pharm.D., FASHP, FAzPA, BCPS (CPG), Professor, Pharmacy Practice
  • “A Brain-Friendly Life: How to Manage Mental Overload and Stop ‘Glitching’” presented by Marisa Mechola, Ph.D., ABPP(CN) (CHS-Glendale), Associate Professor, Behavioral Sciences

Student Groups and University Awards

Midwestern University’s Health Outreach Through Medicine and Education (H.O.M.E.) program was honored for Community Excellence by an Organization at the Maricopa County Medical Society (MCMS) Awards Dinner in October.

The Midwestern University Student Physical Therapy Association (SPTA) held their annual PT Week of Service in celebration of National Physical Therapy Month. The week consisted of daily events, including a community cleanup at Freestone Park in Gilbert, AZ; Krispy Kreme donut sales; and writing to legislators concerning issues in the field of physical therapy. All proceeds went to Justa Center, a resource and day center for unhoused seniors in Phoenix, AZ.