UW School of Dentistry

3 faculty members receive school’s top honor

The School of Dentistry honored three faculty members on Monday with the presentation of its annual Bruce R. Rothwell Teaching Awards, the school’s highest such recognition.

3 people with flowers and award
Dr. John Townsend (center) with Dr. Mark Drangsholt and Dr. Patricia Rothwell.

Awards went to Dr. John Townsend, a lecturer emeritus in the Department of Restorative Dentistry; Dr. Avina Paranjpe, associate professor in the Department of Endodontics; and Dr. Robert Nieman, a clinical instructor with the Advanced General Dentistry Clinic of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.

Dr. Townsend received the Rothwell Lifetime Achievement in Teaching Award. During his career, he has served on the faculty at both the UW and McGill University in Montreal, and chaired a department at each school. At the UW, he has been a key figure in the Graduate Prosthodontics program, and has received four Outstanding Instructor Awards bestowed by students. He also received the rare honor of selection by graduating students to be

3 people with flowers and award
Dr. Avina Paranjpe (center) with Dr. Mark Drangsholt and Dr. Patricia Rothwell.

keynote speaker for the School of Dentistry’s 2014 commencement.

Dr. Townsend has been nominated several times previously for the Rothwell Award. On one of those occasions, the Class of 2015 offered this illustration of his qualities as a teacher: “Dr. Townsend is also an excellent storyteller and dental historian, often sharing stories in class about how dental materials came to be and challenging us to use a critical eye when evaluating new dental products. He put a story behind the materials we use, making them more interesting and easier to understand.”

Dr. Paranjpe received the Rothwell Distinguished Teaching Award. She too has been nominated several times previously, and this year received a fellowship to attend the 2018-19 American Dental Education Association Leadership Institute. This program is designed to groom dental faculty members as future leaders in dental and higher education. Dr. Paranjpe was also selected as the 2018 ADEA/American Association of Endodontists Foundation Scholar for the Leadership Institute.

3 people with flowers and award
Dr. Robert Nieman (center) with Dr. Mark Drangsholt and Dr. Patricia Rothwell.

One letter supporting her nomination for the Rothwell Award included this: “Dr. Paranjpe is held in high regard by her students in the most profound ways. Her organization is renowned among students and residents alike, and her ability to simplify the most arduous of concepts makes her a fantastic mentor. … Dr. Paranjpe maintains incredibly high standards for her students, but year after year they strive to meet them – not for grades, but for respect of their instructor and their goal to demonstrate what they’ve learned from her.”

Dr. Neiman, who has also been nominated multiple times, received the Rothwell Distinguished Teaching Award for Outstanding Service. A former director of the school’s General Practice Residency (GPR) program, he served as an attending dentist in that program and in the Advanced General Dentistry program, which serves medically complex patients, for nearly 40 years.

One nominating letter said: “Bob has been the stable bedrock for the GPR program and its residents. … Simply put, Bob has been the best mentor and teacher one could hope for. Of all the excellent dental educators I have had at the School of Dentistry, there is none more deserving of this award than Bob Nieman, and I think Bruce would be proud of his colleague and friend.”

Bruce Rothwell
Dr. Bruce R. Rothwell

The Rothwell Awards commemorate the late Dr. Bruce R. Rothwell, who chaired the Department of Restorative Dentistry at the UW from 1993 until his death from kidney cancer in 2000 at the age of 52.

Renowned as a forensic dentist, he served as a consultant to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office and in the 1980s worked with UW colleague Dr. Tom Morton to identify victims in the Green River serial murder case. He was posthumously honored by the American Society of Forensic Odontology.

Dr. Rothwell also directed the School of Dentistry’s GPR program and was noted for his expertise in teaching, research and care of medically compromised patients. He devised Rothwell’s Solution, a painkilling mouthwash still in use to help patients undergoing radiation and chemotherapy for mouth cancers.

The awards were presented by Dr. Patricia Rothwell, who was Dr. Rothwell’s wife, and Dr. Mark Drangsholt, Chair of the Department of Oral Medicine and chair of the award selection committee.