January 25, 2016

Dr. Herring, Dr. Chen receive school’s top teaching honor

Dr. Susan Herring and Dr. Yen-Wei Chen have received the School of Dentistry’s highest faculty honor, the Rothwell Award for excellence in teaching.

Dr. Patricia Rothwell, Dr. Susan Herring, & Dr. Mark DrangsholtDr. Herring, who holds appointments in the Department of Orthodontics and the Department of Oral Health Sciences, received the 2015 Bruce R. Rothwell Lifetime Achievement in Teaching Award, which recognizes outstanding teaching over the course of a career and is given to senior or emeritus faculty.

Dr. Chen, of the Department of Restorative Dentistry, received the 2015 Bruce R. Rothwell Distinguished Teaching Award for innovative and distinguished teaching, which is bestowed on younger faculty members.

Dr. Herring, who has been Professor of Orthodontics and Oral Health sciences at the UW since 1990, has also held other key positions including interim Orthodontics department chair and chair of the School’s faculty council. She has taught anatomy to UW pre-doctoral and post-doctoral students for 25 years.

While she has compiled a distinguished research career of her own, including at least 10 major National Institutes of Health grants, she came in for special praise as a research mentor to students at all levels, having guided at least 25 during her tenure. She has been nominated multiple times by faculty and students for the award.

“Students universally comment on her leadership by example, and her strong interest that they learn and excel, as scientists, clinicians and citizens,” one nominator wrote. Said another: “Known as a superior scientist by her peers, Sue moves her students, collaborators, and mentees along with a thirst for knowledge and persistent hard work.”

Dr. Herring received her undergraduate  training and a PhD in anatomy at the University of Chicago. She was a post-doctoral fellow in oral anatomy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she was a professor of oral anatomy and anatomy for 18 years until joining the UW.

Dr. Patricia Rothwell, Dr. Yen-Wei Chen, & Dr. Mark DrangsholtDr. Chen, an assistant professor who has taught at the School since 2009, was cited for his devotion to excellence, encouraging critical thought, giving lectures that were “always relevant and exceptionally engaging,” and incorporating new technology in his presentations. He is the faculty member chiefly responsible for teaching students about the rapidly evolving applications of computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) in restorative dentistry.

The native of Taiwan, who received his DDS degree from Taipei Medical University in 1998, earned an MSD degree in graduate prosthodontics and certification in that field from the UW in 2008. He was also nominated for the Rothwell Award in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

The Rothwell Awards honor the late Dr. Bruce R. Rothwell, who was Chair 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 General Practice Residency 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 at the School’s winter faculty retreat 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.