Awards, Faculty and Staff, Pediatric Dentistry

Quinonez To Receive OKU Teaching Award

Dr. Rocio Quinonez, clinical associate professor in the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Dentistry’s Department of Pediatric Dentistry, has been named the 2010 Omicron Kappa Upsilon (OKU) National Dental Honor Society’s Charles Craig Teaching Award recipient.

This is the first time a UNC-Chapel Hill faculty member has received this honor.

The award recognizes young dental educators for particularly innovative teaching in dentistry, with emphasis on encouraging students to pursue lifelong learning and explore dental education as a career.

Quinonez will receive a certificate of recognition and a $1,000 cash award, as well as formal recognition at the OKU annual business meeting in Washington, D.C., on February 28.

Quinonez joined the School of Dentistry as a full-time faculty member in 2006. Her achievements in her faculty role include coordination of the Baby Oral Health Program, a multimedia educational tool geared toward enhancing competency in providing preventive oral health care to preschool-aged children.

“It was overwhelmingly successful and, today, the infant oral health program is totally integrated into the pediatric dentistry curriculum,” said Dr. Michael W. Roberts, Henson distinguished professor in the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, in his nomination letter. “Weekly … clinics are established in both the dental school and two county health departments. Our dental students participate in the program and become comfortable and accomplished in examining infants and advising parents on oral health practices for their children.”

Dr. Tim Wright, chairman of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, said Quinonez’s participatory teaching style created a “challenging and exciting” learning experience for her students.

“Over the past two years, she has led our department’s efforts in bringing small group case-based teaching sessions, developed Web-based learning modules and Web grading that allows timely and individual responses to the students,” he said in his nomination letter.

Quinonez performed her pediatric dentistry residency at UNC-Chapel Hill and received her master of science degree in pediatric dentistry from the University. In addition, she received a master’s degree in health policy and administration from the UNC-Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Before joining the UNC-Chapel Hill faculty, she was a pediatric dentist in private practice for six years and worked part-time at the Durham County Health Department.

What might not show up on her CV, however, is another area of accomplishment that competed strongly with dentistry – and the same high level of commitment and competence was in evidence.

“As a youth, Dr. Quinonez was a passionate and accomplished musician,” said Roberts in his nomination letter. “She also had a strong desire to become an academic dentist, having been the product of a family of health professionals. The promise of being a successful violinist or becoming an admired dental academician was a difficult decision. Fortunately for dentistry, Dr. Quinonez chose to make oral health her vocation and relegated the violin to her avocation.”