Faculty and Staff, Pediatric Dentistry

Lee Named Demeritt Distinguished Professor

Dr. Jessica Lee, professor in the Department of Pediatric Dentistry and director of the Pediatric Dentistry Resident Program, was named the William W. Demeritt Distinguished Professor. Lee is the second professor to hold this professorship since it was first issued in 1998.

“This is truly an honor for someone who really just had the good fortune of being at the right place,” said Lee. “I was fortunate to be surrounded by good mentors. I feel truly blessed to be a part of the family and legacy that is the UNC Department of Pediatric Dentistry.”

Lee, who earned her D.D.S. and M.P.H. from Columbia University, joined the school’s faculty in 2002 after completing her pediatric dentistry residency program and Ph.D. in health policy. She is active in both UNC Hospitals and the school’s Dental Faculty Practice. In addition to being published many times herself, she serves on the editorial boards for the Journal of Dental Research, Journal of Public Health Dentistry and Dental Traumatology. Among her many honors, Lee most notably received the 2008 American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) Jerome Miller “For the Kids” Award, the 2010 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from President Barack Obama, and was named the 2011 APPD Pediatric Dentist of the Year.

“Dr. Jessica Lee is a very unique individual who brings passion, compassion and commitment to all that she does,” said Dr. Tim Wright, chair of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry. “She is an outstanding teacher and mentor, she is an excellent clinician, and she is a nationally and internationally recognized star in research. We are privileged to have an individual as talented as Jessica on our faculty and her being named the the Demeritt Distinguished Professor in Pediatric Dentistry is well-earned and most fitting.”

The Demeritt professorship honors Dr. “Willie” Demeritt, who served as the first chair of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry. He held this position from the department’s inception until 1955 when Dr. Roy Lindahl became department chair. Demeritt was known as a great clinician and educator, and was instrumental in establishing the school’s continuing education program. He also served as the school’s assistant dean during his tenure at UNC, prior to retiring in 1972. Previously, Dr. William Vann, Jr. held this professorship.