• New UMKC School of Medicine Building Will Transform Health-Care Access in Missouri

    The expanded footprint in St. Joseph, Missouri is designed to train rural health-care providers
    The University of Missouri-Kansas City broke ground on a new $14.5 million medical building for its School of Medicine campus in St. Joseph, Missouri. “Through our investments in the St. Joseph campus, UMKC is answering the call to help ensure all Missourians have access to the health care they deserve,” said UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal. “Today’s groundbreaking ceremony marks a catalyst in our state and region that will be felt for decades to come.” The 22,000-square-foot building will transform health-care access for Missourians by training future health care providers who are committed to rural medicine, supporting research and providing care to people in St. Joseph and the surrounding area. The building will feature the latest medical teaching and learning technology. There will be four exam rooms designed to simulate real-world patient interactions and dedicated study and meeting spaces to support student collaboration. It’s expected to open in 2025. Rendering provided by Clark & Enersen “The physical environment for medical students is important: Using cutting-edge architecture and technological best practices, this new building creates physical spaces that advance active learning, teamwork and interdisciplinary collaboration,” said UMKC School of Medicine Dean Mary Anne Jackson. “This campus will give UMKC the tools to train hundreds of talented medical professionals so that they can go on to provide the highest-quality care to our neighbors throughout Missouri.” Missouri is facing a severe physician shortage, with nearly half of the rural counties in the state lacking adequate access to hospital health care. Research shows medical students who have experience in rural medicine during their residency programs are more likely to practice medicine in rural settings.Physicians who practice in rural areas face numerous challenges. They care for a population of patients with increased risk for many conditions compared to urban and suburban patients, Jackson said. These include higher levels of chronic diseases such as COPD and heart failure, addiction and cancer diagnoses. At the same time, rural physicians encounter limited access to needed specialists, including cardiologists, oncologists and addiction specialists. To help fill health-care gaps, the UMKC School of Medicine partnered with Mosaic Life Care in 2021 to train physicians at its St. Joseph location, but the program has since outgrown its space.“We are excited to see our partnership with the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine grow and prosper on our St. Joseph campus,” said Chief Executive Officer Mike Poore, Mosaic Life Care. “We have the opportunity to shape the future of rural health care and address the shortage of physicians in our region. This extended footprint for the UMKC School of Medicine bridges that gap, especially knowing that students training in rural programs are three times as likely to remain in practice in those areas.” The new building will incorporate design elements to symbolize the statewide impact of the UMKC St. Joseph campus. A large artistic map will be installed near the entryway, pinpointing UMKC medical program partners throughout Missouri and Kansas. This installation is meant to showcase the strength of the existing system and will include the ability for UMKC to add future partners as it expands its rural education network.So far in three years of the UMKC School of Medicine program in St. Joseph, students have logged 19,764 clinical contact hours in medically underserved areas. In addition to Mosaic, they have practiced in other clinics in St. Joseph, Albany, Cameron, Chillicothe, Maryville and Mound City, Missouri.Emma Smith is part of the program’s first cohort of students. She said doing rotations in Chillicothe gave her unique experiences in understanding and overcoming barriers to care in rural areas.“I have learned so much during my time at UMKC, and some of my strongest learning experiences have been during my rural family medicine and internal medicine rotations,” Smith said. “Expanding the UMKC School of Medicine St. Joseph campus is a benefit to the region because it provides additional resources for students to live, work and train in a community with unique patient needs.”This new medical education facility represented strong support and help from federal and Missouri leaders. Of the total $14.5 million cost, $13 million was designated from federal funds and $1.5 million came from state funding. Former Senator Roy Blunt was instrumental in championing federal funds for the new building in a 2022 spending bill, which also included $2.5 million for the UMKC School of Medicine to expand its behavioral health training at the St. Joseph campus. "Missouri is facing a physician shortage, creating major challenges for rural communities," Blunt said. "As the former chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that funds the Department of Health and Human Services, I was a strong advocate for the UMKC School of Medicine St. Joseph campus expansion and its important work in training physicians who will be uniquely qualified to provide care where it's needed most. I am glad to see UMKC breaking ground on the new building today that will strengthen our rural communities by providing quality care to families in underserved areas across the state." In addition to the contributions from Blunt, Missouri State Rep. Brenda Shields was instrumental in the creation of the UMKC School of Medicine St. Joseph campus and spoke at the groundbreaking event. “It has been exciting to be involved in this project from the very beginning. When I spoke to the students at the first white coat ceremony and heard their passion for rural medicine, it was clear to me we were accomplishing what we set out to do—to bring better health care to rural Missouri,” Shields said. “This school will be the premier location for rural medical training in the United States, and it is right here in northwest Missouri.” UMKC has a strong history of expanding access to rural health care education programs in Missouri. In addition to the School of Medicine program, the university operates satellite campuses for the UMKC School of Pharmacy at the University of Missouri in Columbia and Missouri State University in Springfield. Here's what other supporters who spoke at the groundbreaking event had to say: “This expansion is a game changer for rural health care in the region," said U.S. Congressman Sam Graves, a sixth-generation family farmer who grew up in northwestern Missouri. "Health-care access in north Missouri depends on the availability of rural doctors. If we want more rural doctors, we need more rural training. I’m thrilled that UMKC and Mosaic have come together to make this happen in St. Joseph and I can’t wait to see the impact this will have on north Missouri.” “This is a textbook case of how our communities and the University of Missouri System should be collaborating," said Michael Williams, chair of the Board of Curators. “These partnerships will lead to improved health care across the state, and that means a better quality of life for every Missouri citizen.” “This project is a tremendous example of how the University of Missouri System is transforming our state’s critical workforce and supporting rural health,” said University of Missouri President Mun Choi. “The new campus will increase access to essential care for all Missourians while preparing the next generation of providers to serve close to home and address the shortage of rural health care providers. Aug 28, 2023

  • A Year of Discovery

    UMKC medical students continue school’s tradition of earning prestigious NIH research fellowships
    As the pace of medical research continues to escalate, the UMKC School of Medicine has kept up, placing students nearly every year in the past decade in distinguished National Institutes of Health (NIH) programs. Again this year, two UMKC School of Medicine students have been accepted to the yearlong NIH Medical Research Scholars Program. The highly respected program is also quite competitive, as only 40 to 50 students are chosen from accredited institutions across the U.S. and Canada for this rare opportunity to train at the largest biomedical research facility in the world. “These programs help shape the futures of our medical students and make them highly competitive for the best residencies in the nation,” said Michael Wacker, Ph.D., associate dean of academic affairs. “Students returning from these programs are also more highly trained in research, which is valuable for faculty working with them on projects.” This year’s fellows from UMKC will begin their NIH program this summer. Both share a passion for healing and helping others. Manasa Gadiraju plans to be a cardiothoracic surgeon and pursue research aligned with her specialty. “I like that medicine combines science with interpersonal relationships to improve people’s lives,” said Gadiraju, who will graduate in 2025. “As a doctor, I want to be a leader in my field, work with a team and provide a constant source of support for my patients.” The NIH program can open doors of opportunity that speak to Gadiraju’s and other fellows’ dreams and aspirations. “I’d love to do something involving translational therapies for congenital heart conditions and work with stem cells,” Gadiraju said. “The (program) is a perfect complement to my overall career goals. At the NIH, our mentors are physician-scientists, so we learn from the best. This fellowship will be a crucial step in preparing me for my career.” UMKC’s other Medical Research Scholars Program fellow, Jacob Tribble, also will graduate in 2025. “My interest in medicine stemmed from biomedical classes in high school,” said Tribble. “I loved math and science and knew human connections would be an important part of my future career. The ability to help people is an amazing privilege and responsibility.” With plans to eventually work as a physician-scientist at an academic institution, Tribble looks forward to the spectrum of possibilities offered by the NIH. He’ll spend much of his time this summer in their Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, where he’ll be researching cancer in immunocompromised people and those living with HIV. “Research and teaching are both aspects of medicine I love and want in my future,” Tribble said. “One aspect of the program that attracted me was that they offer free classes through the FAES (Foundation for Advanced Education in Sciences) graduate school. These courses range from covering applications of artificial intelligence to advanced cancer biology and the neuroscience of addiction.” Student Research Programs In 2014, the UMKC School of Medicine launched an initiative to introduce an array of research opportunities to its students. This initiative began as a conversation between then-dean, Steven Kanter, M.D., and Wacker. “Our students have always looked for unique and challenging opportunities to learn and train,” Wacker said. “We formed a research group, created a webpage and mentored students who participated in these year-long and summer research programs.” In that inaugural year, only a few students applied. Since then, the number of accepted applicants has increased exponentially. During the past nine years, more than 100 UMKC medical school students have participated in nearly three dozen research programs with universities and medical organizations around the world. Nearly 40 of these have been NIH programs, including its Clinical Research Training Program, the Summer Internship Program in Biomedical Research and the Medical Research Scholars Program. “Initially, students were hesitant to take a year off and extend their graduation,” Wacker said. “But as I talk with students and participants who’ve come back and shared their experiences, they realize what a difference this opportunity can make in their careers. “Every year, I offer a seminar detailing these programs, and we help students through the application process. As our participation increases, there’s more awareness about the value of these programs, and the enthusiasm grows.” Gadiraju’s enthusiasm reflects that of her fellow NIH program participants. “I’m so excited to spend a year improving my research skills at the NIH,” she said. “I applied to this program because I want to learn to think more scientifically, create and implement study designs and gain hands-on experience working with some of the best scientists in the world.” Tribble shares Gadiraju’s excitement. “I applied to this program because research is a career goal, and the NIH is one of the most robust research institutions in the world,” he said. “The resources and training they provide are unmatched, and living on the NIH campus with students from medical schools across the country will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” The NIH Journey: Learn, Discover and Contribute With an emphasis on biomedical research, NIH programs parallel the School of Medicine’s mission to improve the health and well-being of people through innovative medicine and cutting-edge biomedical science and research. “The NIH sponsors these programs, in part, to increase the number of physician-scientists conducting research as part of their practice,” Wacker said. “Research training not only helps students become part of the process to create new knowledge but also helps them approach clinical problems with a different mindset and to practice evidence-based medicine.” During the Medical Research Scholars Program, scholars contribute to groundbreaking solutions through a process known as bench-to-bedside treatment. This approach, in which laboratories are located near patient units, puts research scientists and students near those receiving care. Through collaboration, these teams translate scientific observations and laboratory discoveries into pioneering diagnoses and treatments. Medical Research Scholars Program fellows receive a stipend, plus expenses, to conduct this research at the NIH main campus in Bethesda, Maryland. This transformational year also helps guide the direction of these future leaders in biomedical research. At the NIH, biomedical research includes behavioral and social sciences biology, chemistry and physics, mathematical modeling, biostatistics and other focus areas. The program includes seminars by world-renowned researchers who teach not only the science of medicine, but the art of clinical care. Students acquire cutting-edge analytical skills and knowledge while learning from expert, supportive mentors how to lead their own investigations. Workshop topics include work-life balance, written and verbal communication and the critical evaluation of medical literature. Achieving Goals and Making a Difference For many participants, the Medical Research Scholar Program also presents an opportunity to define their vision for future service to community and those in need. Yen Luu (M.D. ’23), who graduated in the spring with a specialty in dermatology, completed an NIH Medical Research Scholars Program in 2022. Experiences early in her life influenced her decision to pursue a medical career.  “When I was growing up, I volunteered with children whose family members had cancer,” she said. “I saw how physicians supported families through their most vulnerable times and created long-lasting, meaningful impacts.” Luu’s research is focused on skin cancer risk factors among underrepresented communities, in particular those who identify as LGBTQ+. At the NIH, her project examined skin cancers in people living with HIV. “I applied to the (program) to immerse myself in collaborative research,” said Luu, who will begin her residency at Stanford University in the fall. “The NIH was the perfect place to develop essential research skills of coding, writing and collaboration. My mentor, Dr. Michael Sargen, also sparked my love for dermato-epidemiology and reaffirmed my passion for conducting research that includes underserved communities.”  Benefits of Research Programs During the NIH programs, research mentors guide scholars, support their work and inspire innovative discoveries. Participants also meet colleagues who become lifetime mentors and friends. “My biggest goal during the program was to engage in a close mentorship experience, and this goal was far exceeded at the NIH,” Luu said. “I’m incredibly thankful to Dr. Sargen. He not only nurtured my career goals, but also introduced me to fantastic physician-scientists who are now also close mentors.” Tribble looks forward to similar opportunities for collaboration and connection at the NIH. “Team science is a concept that’s exemplified at the NIH, and this attitude of collaboration is something I hope to bring to my future practice,” he said. “I believe we’re at our best when we work with one another and take everyone’s thoughts into account. The NIH has created a healthy environment where this is encouraged, and the researchers and mentors I’ve interacted with there are amazing people.” Wacker believes student research programs deliver positive, far-reaching outcomes for participants, the School of Medicine, the university—and the people UMKC students and graduates care for and serve. “Ultimately, these students will go on to make significant contributions to the way health care is practiced, and this benefits our entire community.” Aug 25, 2023

  • One Degree, Countless Opportunities

    Alumni use their education to open doors beyond the dental clinic
    When graduates leave the UMKC School of Dentistry, they’re ready for the rigors that come with working inside a dental clinic. But they’re also prepared for a multitude of other opportunities where they can put their degrees to work. Alumni Nathan Suter, William V. Giannobile and Laila Hishaw may have taken their knowledge in different directions, but they all share the common goal of making a lasting impact on the field of dentistry. Suter (D.D.S. ’13) wears many hats in his dental career. As owner and clinician at Green Leaf Dental Care in House Springs, Missouri, Suter treats patients one day a week. The rest of the week is filled with his responsibilities as a small business owner, software developer, corporate executive, public health administrator and board member. “What made me a little different than a traditional dental student was that I had a business degree coming into dental school, and that allowed me to see things differently,” Suter said. “I just like to solve problems. That's probably the biggest thing.” Suter began his dental career in a community health center, which ignited a passion for population health and strategizing to solve big problems that affect a lot of people. Outside of Green Leaf, he’s also the chief innovation officer for Enable Dental, where he oversees technology and quality assurance for the company, which provides portable dentistry for geriatric and special needs patients across the country. Suter believes his rotations as a UMKC dental student opened his eyes to the full range of possibilities that come with a D.D.S. degree. “I didn’t really know there was more to dentistry than private practice until I went on my rotations, and I started really liking public health,” Suter said. “That let me zoom out from looking at dentistry as the tooth and the person attached to it, (and start looking) at an entire population.” For Suter’s third-year research project in dental school, he worked with Delta Dental, evaluating onsite dental care for companies in terms of portable dentistry and teledentistry. Through that work, he began to see patterns of disparity in dental check-ups related to levels of education. Michael McCunniff (D.D.S.’83), who was UMKC School of Dentistry’s department chair in Public Health and Behavioral Sciences at the time, helped Suter realize the broader public health ramifications of his research. By making dentistry more accessible through portability and teledentistry, dentists can break down some of the societal barriers to oral health care. That research became the catalyst for Suter’s consulting work, as many dentists began reaching out to him about the different ways to utilize portable equipment and teledentistry. He also worked with Delta Dental (he is a current board member) to develop software for clinic care coordination specific to dentistry. Enable Dental would go on to acquire that software and bring him on in his current executive role. Suter’s advice for his fellow alumni is to expand their network beyond the dental clinic. “Have the courage to put yourself in a room where you’re the only dentist,” Suter said. “Offer yourself up, create a space to listen and see what opportunities come.” Ivy League Alumnus As dean of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, William V. Giannobile (D.D.S. ’91), doesn’t get to practice dentistry much anymore, but keeping up on those skills is still a priority. “I consider myself a clinician scientist, really trying to bring together translating discovery or basic science into the clinic,” Giannobile said. “And it’s always been important, as a clinician scientist, to continue seeing patients.” Since his time at UMKC, Giannobile has become a leader in periodontology, with research interests in regenerative medicine, tissue engineering and precision medicine. The seeds for his prestigious research career were planted during his time at the School of Dentistry, particularly by three of the school’s former faculty: Charles Cobb, J. David Eick and George Revere. During Giannobile’s second year in dental school, they urged him to take a research opportunity with the National Institutes of Health. They explained the research would not only help him with his current degree, but could also make him a pioneer in the field of dentistry. “I was basically the first dental student (at UMKC) to engage in a combined D.D.S. program with a Master of Science in Oral Biology,” said Giannobile. “So, my time at UMKC was certainly a transformative experience that prepared me very well for my time at Harvard University.” After graduation from UMKC, Giannobile earned a Ph.D. in molecular biology and a certificate in periodontology, both from Harvard, where he was also a faculty member for two years. He left Harvard for the University of Michigan, where he worked from 1998 to 2020. All the while, he continued to advance his research interests. Now that he’s back at Harvard, Giannobile is excited for his future research into patient stratification for losing teeth and using artificial intelligence to identify patients at risk of developing pain after certain dental procedures. Giannobile is grateful for every opportunity that helped create his path forward. “When I look back, I feel blessed at how many doors have opened in my career and enabled me to do so many different things,” said Giannobile, who is from St. James, Missouri. “Growing up on the farmlands of Missouri, I never thought I would be able to travel internationally to collaborate on my work.” Mentoring clinicians of color A mindless scroll of her Facebook feed is what inspired Laila Hishaw (D.D.S. ’00) to start a national dentistry nonprofit, an effort she claims has rejuvenated her as a clinician. In 2018, after 18 years in dentistry, burn out began to settle in. One night, while she was scrolling through Facebook posts, she saw a statistic on the racial disparities in oral health. As a Black woman, she felt compelled to do something. She started with her own social media post, just asking if anyone she knew had a child who needed mentorship in dentistry. That one post kicked off a broader conversation among her dental friend group. Hishaw found that many other dentists were interested in mentoring, and there were quite a few parents seeking mentors for their kids. So she created a Facebook group that became a space for parents and students to connect and ask questions with real dentists on topics such as interviewing at a particular school or navigating the application process. “Once people started getting connected, they started asking about donating and whether it was a nonprofit,” Hishaw said. “Then I realized, I need to make this organized.” She called it Diversity in Dentistry Mentorships, got the organization incorporated and formed a board of directors. The nonprofit took off from there, and now has 3,370 members and more than 100 mentees. In 2021, the group held its first in-person event for middle and high schoolers, where the students received hands-on experience in dentistry. They invited 30 students to attend the first year and 50 the following year. Although the organization is focused in Arizona for now, Hishaw’s vision is to one day have these pockets of mentorship across the country. “Mentorship really did reignite my love and passion for dentistry,” Hishaw said. “When you’re talking to mentees, it reminds you of why you (chose dentistry) in the first place.” Hishaw is proud of the programs and the mentors that helped her get where she is today. Before she was a student at the School of Dentistry, she took part in the Summer Scholars program at the school, now called the STAHR program, which stands for Students Training in Academia, Health and Research. She used her experience with STAHR to help guide her while she was organizing her non-profit’s Youth Summit. “In STAHR, we had experience with impressions, learning vocabulary and instrumentation,” Hishaw said. “We’re mirroring that, giving our students the same hands-on learning and giving them the realization that they too could be a dentist.” Many of Hishaw’s former UMKC classmates are now a part of Diversity in Dentistry Mentorships, and some of her own mentors are still at UMKC, including John Cottrell, the school’s director of minority and special programs. While she was a student at UMKC, Hishaw said she was in Cottrell’s office probably every other week. He’s been a sounding board for many of the ideas she has surrounding her nonprofit. While Hishaw is still a practicing pediatric dentist with multiple locations around Tucson, she acknowledges it’s her passion outside the dental office that’s kept her going. “This helped me find true joy beyond the four walls of my practice,” Hishaw said. “Our identities as dentists are tied so tightly to being a practice owner, it’s so important for us, as dentists, to have hobbies and outside interests.” Aug 25, 2023

  • A Conference for the Ages

    Legacy families come together for centennial celebration
    This year at the Midwest Dental Conference, the UMKC School of Dentistry celebrated 100 years of gathering for an annual alumni meeting. For some alumni, their first experience at the conference wasn’t as a dentist, or even as a dental student – but instead, as a kid, tagging along with their parents or grandparents. Those childhood family trips to MDC are often just the beginning of a deep connection with the School of Dentistry that the school’s alumni share. Mark Mosier (D.D.S. ’85) remembers attending the alumni meetings with his dad, Richard Mosier (D.D.S. ’54), and grandfather, Harry Mosier (D.D.S. 1922), in the 1970s. According to Mark, Harry was close friends with Roy Rinehart, former dean of the School of Dentistry and the namesake of the Rinehart Foundation. Harry liked to  tell a story about an alumni meeting in the 1930s where the two friends and their wives were seated together at the banquet. It was a table for six people, but it was just the four of them. Harry looked around and noticed another couple sitting by themselves, while everyone else was cliqued up, lost in their own worlds, catching up with their buddies. “My grandfather and Dean Rinehart were not the kind of people to ignore others,” Mosier said. “They were very inclusive and social.” The two men went over and introduced themselves to Albert and Ruth Mizzy, who had traveled to the conference from New York City. They later learned the Mizzys owned a dental supply company that would later become the worldwide manufacturer of medical and dental supplies, Mizzy, Inc. Harry and Roy insisted the couple join their table. The new group quickly formed a close connection. “They all became great friends,” Mosier said. “The Mizzys would come visit for the holidays, they’d go hunting together. And they came back to that meeting year after year.” Mark Mosier started attending MDC when he was just five years old. Now 65, this year’s meeting is a special one for him. He attended with his niece Kiralyn Mosier, who graduated from the School of Dentistry in May. “Kiralyn will be the fourth generation Mosier graduating from UMKC,” Mark Mosier said. “I am so proud she is continuing the legacy we have. We’re all very excited.” The Samples are another legacy family that had a strong turnout for this year’s MDC. Kyle Samples (D.D.S. ’11) and his brother, Stuart Samples (D.D.S. ’07), are partners at McCoy Samples Mattingly Dental Clinic in Carrolton, Missouri. The two have been attending MDC with their dad, James Samples (D.D.S. ’71), for as long as they can remember. “I remember going when I was six years old, hanging out with the kids of Dad’s alumni buddies,” said Kyle Samples. “Now, my kids love doing that too. They look forward to it all year.” This year, another generation joined the mix as Stuart’s daughter, Emily Samples, attended MDC with him. Now a sophomore at the University of Missouri, Emily plans to apply to dental school after undergrad. Kyle’s wife, Krystal, and their two children also made the drive down to Kansas City, making this year’s conference a little bit of a family vacation. “In 50-plus years, I’ve only missed one (MDC), when I was serving in the military,” James Samples said. “I love having my boys with me at the meetings. It’s wonderful. I’m so proud of them.” James remembers the earlier years he attended the conference fondly. He and his classmates would compare notes on the continuing education each day, trade clinical stories and share memories about dental faculty. According to James, his classmates would go out on the town, but he and his wife Maggie would forgo the partying to have a quiet dinner with other married classmates. “It’s about reconnecting with special friends,” James said, “and shooting the bull.” Technically, the name Midwest Dental Conference was adopted in 1994. But UMKC alumni have connected over oral health education and comraderie since at least 1923, when the UMKC Dental Alumni Association first met. The Dental Hygienists’ Alumni Association eventually joined the conference in the years that followed. This year’s conference, held April 13–16, celebrated those 100 years of meetings by welcoming 2,500 attendees and exhibitors to the heart of Kansas City. Presented by the UMKC Dental and Dental Hygienist’s Alumni Associations, the conference featured nearly 40 lectures and hands-on sessions across two Crown Center hotels. The enthusiastic screams of alumni could be heard across the Sheraton lobby as old classmates greeted each other. By the class composite displays, friends hugged and laughed over photos from their college days. Alumni agree that the way the event brings people together is one of the reasons it’s so special and has had such a long tenure. Current students also took part in the conference, as they do each year. In the exhibit hall, fourth-year dental students presented their research during table clinics. Mosier remembers that time in his life fondly. He earned first place when he was in school, and later went on to judge the competition. On Friday, the exhibit hall opened to attendees, and more than 90 companies displayed cutting-edge oral health technology and services. It’s a particular highlight for Stuart Samples. “I always end up getting some new equipment,” he said. “It’s great because we’ve gotten to know a lot of the reps, and it’s fun to see them as well.” The opportunities to connect are plentiful, with the UMKC Dental Hygienists’ Alumni Association Celebration Luncheon, Recent Grad Party, Orthodontic Meeting and more. This year, the Samples were particularly excited for the Pierre Fauchard Academy Regional Meeting. Kyle was inducted into the academy, while Stuart and their practice partner, David Mattingly, watched on. While the reunions may have drawn participants to MDC, continuing education was also a big part of the weekend for the Samples. Sessions ranged from the effects of vaping to homeopathic trends and included hands-on workshops for endodontics and composite dentistry. James Samples has long been a champion of the educational aspect of the conference. Both Kyle and Stuart call their dad the “furious note taker” of the family. They’ve even adopted their own family strategy for tackling the day. “We’ve learned over the years that if we split up, we can each learn something and share it,” Stuart explained. “Dad always says, ‘You’ll always get that one pearl of wisdom you can take back home with you.’” After all educational sessions and alumni celebrations were said and done, attendees traveled back home Sunday afternoon with yet another weekend’s worth of memories and a new breadth of knowledge to put into practice. “Anytime a meeting can go on for 100 years, somebody's doing something right,” Mosier said. “I’m proud of my school. I’m proud of my family.” Aug 25, 2023

  • The Future is Now

    Simulation training is a growing and expected part of medical education and UMKC has plans to expand their program
    Emily Hillman was a fifth-year medical student, still deciding which direction her career as a physician would take, when she walked into the School of Medicine’s simulation lab for the first time. Long recognized for delivering a cutting-edge curriculum, the UMKC School of Medicine opened its Clinical Training Facility and the Youngblood Medical Skills Laboratory in the basement in 2007 with a small assortment of full-body manikin simulators and specialized models called “task trainers,” designed to teach and practice skills.Hillman (M.D. ’08), returned to the lab repeatedly throughout her final years of medical school, and throughout her emergency medicine residency, to learn procedures in a way that wasn’t possible before the evolution of simulators. “I found it so helpful and impactful learning to do things on a simulator rather than reading a textbook or listening to a lecture because it brought out my knowledge gaps,” said Hillman, an emergency medicine physician who now serves as director of simulation education at the School of Medicine. “I realized I thought I knew something, but actually doing it was different.”Today, the school is looking forward to a new $120 million Healthcare Delivery and Innovation Building planned for the UMKC Health Sciences Campus. The building will provide additional classroom space and state-of-the-art educational facilities, including more simulation labs, which school leaders say will lead to better training for students and better care for the community.Before simulation training, medical students learned by reading textbooks, examining and working with static plastic models and watching others perform procedures before they practiced on real patients. At the School of Medicine, students often prepared for exams by flooding the school’s second-floor media center, a large room filled with skeletons, an assortment of plastic model body parts and rows of monitors on which they could view videos describing everything from human anatomy to specific medical procedures. Hillman said today’s students come in with the expectation simulation training will be an essential part of their education. “That was not the case in the past because it was new and novel. It was an emerging thing,” Hillman said. “The available technologies today have changed and improved their realism.”Manikins and task trainers used today mimic the human anatomy and physiology and perform with such realism that not only can they talk and move, but they can go so far as to bleed, vomit and even give birth. With life-like skin, they allow learners to practice skills in real time, such as inserting breathing tubes and using catheters to actually remove fluids.Ashraf Gohar, M.D., an associate professor of medicine, is assistant program director of the pulmonary/critical care fellowship. He has utilized the clinical training facility for the past 10 years, teaching medical students and residents.“Every program today, if they don’t have a skills lab, they’re developing one,” he said. “And if they do have one, they’re expanding it.”Such is the case with the School of Medicine’s Clinical Training Facility. Today, the facility has moved out of the basement. Taking up a suite in a building across the street from the medical school, the facility has two classrooms, four examination rooms with exam tables and diagnostic tools and three patient care bays that can be set up as emergency department or intensive care bays.Last year, the school’s second-floor media center was remodeled to house a new Experiential Learning Center, a 30-seat hybrid simulation/classroom space that serves as an extension of the simulation lab across the street. And the growth doesn’t end there. In addition to the current simulation facilities, the Healthcare Delivery and Innovation Building is expected to provide training space that will nearly triple the Clinical Training Facility’s footprint on the Health Sciences Campus. “For the volume of simulations we do, the size of the team and the space we operate in is small,” Hillman said. “The plus side of that is that we’ve had to do a great job of being creative with our resources and with solutions to those challenges. We do need the physical space that allows us to optimize the way these simulation events are meant to run.”Current scheduling for faculty who want to use the Clinical Training Facility is a minimum of two weeks out, said Garren Fraser, assistant director of administration for the center.With the increased use of the training center, Fraser and his staff now require instructors to submit a complete learning plan outlining goals and objectives for the students.“Our goal is that you give us your teaching plan and we’ll give you the tools to teach it,” Fraser said. “We want to get as close to clinical (reality) as possible.”An entire simulation suite in the new building will help meet that goal. A dedicated room for procedure training will also have equipment that allows for distance learning, so an instructor can connect from another campus to conduct training of procedures. A full-scale operating room will allow for different virtual simulations. A high-fidelity simulation room will be designed to meet today’s best practice standards. There will be additional office and storage space as well.The biggest positive to come out of the new space may be the addition of 14 new exam rooms, more than triple the number of rooms currently available for the school’s standardized patient program.Standardized patients are actors hired by the school to portray patients in a clinical exam setting or family members during virtual training sessions. They allow students to practice basic examination and communication skills. Standardized patients are also trained to help assess, and in some instances, correct simple mistakes students make while they are learning to conduct basic examinations, something Hillman said sets the UMKC standardized patient program apart from others.As part of their training, a new class of medical students is required each year to examine four standardized patients for 30 minutes each. That requirement, which is part of the students’ mid-term exams, takes a full week to complete for an entire class of up to 130 students with the spaces currently available. In the new Experiential Learning Center, the standardized patient program also provides students with after-hours opportunities to meet with standardized patients and spend more time practicing their basic physical exam skills. “We need a space that delivers the best environment for our student learners and our standardized patients,” Hillman said. “Instead of a student reading a textbook after hours to prepare for an exam, they’re meeting with a standardized patient. It’s all about having a flexible learning model for students who learn in different ways. We look at how we can adapt simulation for that.”The key to simulation training, she said, is to remember that the patient isn’t the focus.“In simulation, the learner is the focus,” she said. “They’re free to air their mistakes or things they don’t understand because they’re not endangering a real patient.”There are, however, times when a simulation event can become a very lifelike and stressful experience.Ameen Awad, a sixth-year medical student, has been through several simulation events and experienced both the comfort of learning in a safe environment and the pressure of a high-stress situation.“You can be working on the manikin, looking at the heart monitor and all of a sudden, it flat lines and you have to do something immediately,” Awad said. “You have to figure out, ‘What are we going to do? What are we going to inject them with? Are we going to start compressions?’ That is stressful, but it’s also good practice because in the real world, seconds are precious.” Gohar brings a new group of medical students and residents to the Clinical Training Facility about every six weeks.On a recent spring day, a class of nearly 20 medical students gathered for comprehensive skills training in thoracentesis and paracentesis, procedures in which a long catheter is inserted through the patient’s back or chest to obtain a body fluid sample. Having already watched a recorded video of the procedures, the students line up to perform the procedures on one of two task trainers.“They come here to practice the hands-on part before they start working on the real person,” Gohar said. “This is important because they make mistakes, they learn from their mistakes. After a certain number of procedures, everyone will get more comfortable.”As the school’s simulation program continues to grow, Hillman said, the goal is for the Clinical Training Facility to become an accredited simulation center through the Society for Simulation in Healthcare within the next five years. Accreditation proves a simulation center has established the processes, procedures and oversight that are best practice, Hillman said.“We believe that process is going to ensure we’re following best practices,” she said. “We’ve been doing things program-wise to set the stage for that in a way that may not be apparent to the learners but is very apparent to people who ask to use our center now.” Today’s simulation training is a high yield learning experience, Hillman said. For that reason, it’s now embedded in the school’s curriculum, which includes the school’s Physician Assistant and Anesthesiologist Assistant programs as well.“It's an expectation now as a medical school that we provide simulated experiences,” Hillman said. “Students can encounter different problems (in simulations) that they wouldn’t in the clinic. You can’t guarantee every student is going to see every patient problem. But you can with simulation.” Aug 24, 2023

  • UMKC Psychology Internships Provide Insight, Experience

    From summer camps to assisted living facilities, department helps students find the right fit
    The UMKC psychology program is committed to identifying internships for its undergraduate students. The results of the students’ experiences are stronger skills, clearer understanding of the profession and possible job offers. Angel Williams is a senior who decided to be a counselor based on the prevalence of mental health issues. “I just decided that if people need help, I should be a person that they can look to. That way they can lean on me with the problems that they may have." At Jumpstart, an outcome-based program that promotes children’s school success and builds family engagement, Williams worked two days a week developing lesson plans, conducting reading activities and providing lessons to expand vocabulary. The internship gave Williams perspective on how broad the field of psychology is, as well as the diversity of the audience. “I want to work with young adults, but my internship gave me the experience of putting myself in someone else’s shoes. It helped me realize where other people are coming from even better.” Growing up, school was a place that Yami Blas, a senior in psychology, felt secure and supported. “My teachers and counselor instilled a deep appreciation for the work that they do. Their influence encouraged me to pursue a career in an educational setting. My internship at Campfire made my interest in school counseling become clearer.” During her internship, she went to two schools and worked with diverse groups of students. “We taught them conflict resolution and emotional regulation skills,” Blas says. “I created lesson plans that would outline ways to resolve conflicts that students may have faced, but we made these activities so students would have fun while learning.” Blas plans to earn her master's degree in counseling with an emphasis on school counseling. “At Campfire I interacted with school counselors, which provided invaluable insights into their roles and responsibilities. Their insights instilled a sense of confidence in my career choice.” After graduation, Blas plans to be a school counselor within her community. “I am well aware of the pressing need for increased representation of Latine professionals in mental health and education. I want to make a meaningful impact and contribute to fostering inclusive and equitable support systems for all students!” Sarah Welte, (B.A., 23) psychology major with a minor in race, ethnic and gender studies, is an academy director at Rockhill Manor thanks to her internship through UMKC. Welte was hesitant about her internship with Rockhill Manor, an assisted living campus for adults with a chronic mental illness, because she was concerned that it may be too focused on the nursing side of health care, rather than the mental health side, which interested her more. “Dr. (Kym) Bennett encouraged me to try it because she thought I might like it. I’m very thankful for her patience and for motivating me to give it a shot!” Rockhill Academy is a non-profit organization run by Rockhill Manor that offers classes focusing on life skills, educational opportunities and community engagement for their residents. “I help design and facilitate these classes, including Mental Health Awareness, and organizing trips to Starlight Theater,” Welte says. “In addition, I am in charge of facilitating the internship program we have with UMKC.” “The best case scenario is that students get into the internship, and they love the time working one-on-one with people. If they don’t, we can course correct.” - Kym Bennett Welte says working at Rockhill has been the perfect job for her after graduation. “It allowed me to shift into the psychology field in a place where I was already comfortable because I had had months of exposure to the place and the residents before I began working here. Now I get to continue to work with residents that I had already formed relationships with, providing them a continuance of classes and opportunities that will hopefully enhance their lives. Kym Bennett, Ph.D., director, Undergraduate Psychology Program and Mentoring Office helped each student secure an internship. She and Ricardo Marte, Ph.D., associate clinical professor, maintain a list of sites that provide opportunities for meaningful experiences, but they can identify other sites if a student has a specific interest. It’s important to them that the internship is a good fit. “The best case scenario is that students get into the internship, and they love the time working one-on-one with people,” Bennett says. “If they don’t, we can course correct.” She says seeing a student take a job at an internship placement is energizing. “It’s one of the best parts of the job to see our students complete their degree and begin down the path of helping others. There’s no better feeling.”   Aug 18, 2023

  • For Med Student, There’s No Place Like Nome

    Caleb Feuerbacher completed monthlong psychiatric rotation in remote Alaska
    Roos don't just dream, they do. Our students turn ideas into action every day. Get to know our people, and you'll know what UMKC is all about. Caleb FeuerbacherAnticipated graduation year: 2025UMKC degree program: BA/MD, School of MedicineHometown: Maryville, Missouri It took persistence, and Google Maps, for med student Caleb Feuerbacher to find the ideal place for a monthlong psychiatry rotation. Norton Sound Health Corporation in Nome, Alaska, isn’t easy to spot from the lower 48. But it was a magnet for Feuerbacher, who has long dreamed of seeing the more remote regions of the world. With three psychiatric rotations in easier-to-reach locations already on his resume, he decided in early 2023 it was time to go long. “I just started clicking on hospitals that showed up on Google Maps in remote areas of Alaska,” he said. He found Norton Sound in Nome, went to the website and discovered that they already had a medical student rotation program established with Tulane University. The website included a name and phone number for a contact person for the program. He picked up the phone and called.  “The man said, ‘We’re having a Zoom meeting tomorrow with applicants from Tulane. Want to join?’ And I did.” On June 23, he stepped off the plane and into another world. For the first two weeks, the sun never set. “The culture is rooted in subsistence hunting,” he said. “The people are all super nice and friendly. They were always inviting me into their homes.” He spent a lot of his free time exploring and sightseeing in the tundra and mountains. He also encountered professional challenges. “According to the CDC, the suicide rate in Alaska is about 1.5 times that of Missouri,” Feuerbacher said. “I don’t think the issue is as simple as remoteness or weather. There’s been a lot of challenges for Native Americans and Alaska Natives with European colonists from the very beginning. Many challenges continue to exist today.” His thinking is influenced by more than just a month in Alaska. He spent an earlier rotation in a place much closer to Kansas City, but almost as remote: White Cloud, Kansas, population 115, in the reservation of the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska, where he dealt with similar issues. “I think it is really important for medical students, or really anyone, to learn more about native Americans and Alaska natives, to see things from their perspective.” “I really like the extremities of the world. I like to explore things that few people in the world have seen, see how other people live. I want to experience other cultures, other lifestyles.” —  Caleb Feuerbacher What’s next for Feuerbacher? He will spend the 2023-2024 academic year at Harvard pursuing a master’s degree in public health, then return to UMKC for the final year of medical school. Then a residency, and eventually a psychiatric practice. Just where that will be remains to be seen. Utqiagvik, Alaska (formerly Barrow), one of the northernmost towns on the planet, is on his bucket list. He’s also eager to visit U.S. territories in the Pacific, such as Guam and the Northern Marianas. “I really like the extremities of the world,” Feuerbacher said. “I like to explore things that few people in the world have seen, see how other people live. I want to experience other cultures, other lifestyles.” “I think it’s really important to see how medicine is practiced in different areas of the United States,” he added. “I believe it helps you understand on a deeper level the issues you’ll be dealing with in your practice.” Why did you choose UMKC? I visited it as a high school student. It had a great campus and was close to home, along with the program I wanted and great support. Why did you choose your field of study? The six-year BA/MD program was perfect for me as it was in-state and gave me admission into a great medical school. What are the benefits of the program? Getting your M.D. and undergrad degree in only six years, with lower cost than most other medical schools for in-state students. The students here are awesome, and I’ve met a lot of friends on campus. I also like the flexibility on choosing away rotations. Who do you admire most at UMKC? Dr. Wacker (Michael Wacker, Ph.D., associate professor and associate dean - Academic Affairs, vice-chair, Biomedical Science) has been an amazing role model and person to seek guidance from, especially for rural/away rotations. Do you have any scholarships? I am on an athletic scholarship for NCAA Division I cross country. I ran competitively here at UMKC for three years with my last season being this past fall, and was UMKC’s third-fastest cross country runner this year at conference. What’s your favorite social media channel? Geowizard on Youtube. He’s a funny personality and has lots of cool videos about challenges where he walks across countries in straight lines and loves geography, which I love as well. What’s your favorite spot on campus? Bloch Executive Hall; there are lots of little places to explore in that building. Aug 17, 2023

  • Have You Ever Seen a Beating Heart in Real-Time?

    Virtual anatomy table takes the gross out of anatomy
    The Anatomage Table, a 3D anatomy visualization and virtual dissection tool, is about the size and height of a traditional hospital bed. The top of the table features two integrated touch-screen glass monitors connected to a powerful computer housed in the base of the machine. At first glance, the screens look like any other computer interface, except the screen spans 7 feet. The school acquired the table in the fall of 2019 through a state technology grant. Trainings were delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the school was able to start using the table in the Fall of 2021. Shelley Hunter, Ph.D., a clinical assistant professor who teaches anatomy and physiology, is the resident expert on the inner workings of the impressive piece of technology. She said that even though Anatomage provided extensive training for faculty and staff, the technology was still daunting at first. “At first I was really intimidated because the table is enormous, and it can do so many things,” Hunter said. “The students, though, are immediately comfortable with it. They just walk right up, and it doesn’t bother them since they were born into this age of technology.” According to Hunter, the table presents a more “cleaned-up version” of the human body than students would experience in a traditional cadaver lab. With the Anatomage Table, if a student wants to see behind the kidneys, they just digitally move the organs out of the way. With a cadaver, those same kidneys would need to be removed by hand with considerable effort. For Hunter, the capabilities of the virtual anatomy table far outweigh the lack of tactile sensation that traditional dissection involves. “For the cardiovascular unit we were studying, we pulled up the heart and it pulled up an EKG,” Hunter said. “Right beside it, and we could see the muscles, we could see the nervous system and the valves working while the ECG was going on and the students can relate the electrical with the mechanical.” School of Nursing and Health Studies Dean Joy Roberts believes that UMKC is the only university in the Kansas City area offering this technology to its students. Roberts also knows first-hand that other area schools are interested in the table. “I was on the board for North Kansas City School District. They called and said, ‘We hear you have this new machine and it’s really cool,’” Roberts said. “Leadership came to UMKC to check it out. They were so impressed they got one for the district, and plan to have them at all four of the North Kansas City high schools.” Although the table itself is expensive, it’s still much cheaper than a cadaver lab. “To operate a cadaver lab, you have to get people to donate their bodies,” Roberts said. “Then you have to store the cadavers, preserve them in formaldehyde and keep them secure. This table gives us access to cadavers without the terrible smell of formaldehyde burning our eyes.” The school received the funding for the $80,000 table from a grant through the Nursing Education Incentive Program with the Missouri State Board of Nursing. According to Roberts, having access to cadavers, even if virtually, makes a world of difference for the students, providing them with more than a the traditional plastic model or picture in a book. For Roberts, those tried-and-true learning tools will always be useful, but the Anatomage Table provides a more complete picture. Take, for example, the voice box. Hunter can zero in on that organ and remove related systems, such as circulatory or nervous systems, providing an unencumbered view of what students are focusing on for that particular lesson. The machine shines when Hunter takes a clear view of the voice box and rotates the entire organ. The ability to do this is critical, because the muscles associated with the voice box are hidden behind the organ itself. Hunter can then show students the muscles that support the throat, the bone and cartilage, the Adam’s apple and the epiglottis, the flap that covers the windpipe. That full understanding is important for future nurses and their patients. “Because most nurses will have to intubate a patient, we look at those muscles that control the opening and closing of that flap,” Hunter said. “We talk about what happens if any of these things are compromised. If the nerves or muscles aren’t functioning properly, the patient can die because there’s no way for air to get through.” Hunter’s anatomy and physiology classes are comprised of pre-nursing students and health studies students. Classes consist of 20-35 students each, and Hunter has groups of five working at the table at one time. On any given review day, students can be found studying a unit, such as the cardiovascular system, watching the entire system work in real-time. Other groups quiz each other on terminology as they wait their turn at the table, where they’ll see a fuller picture of how circulation works. Ashley Hanners is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in health studies, and she spent the past two semesters in Hunter’s class working with the Anatomage Table. Hanners came into the class from high school with some experience in dissection, which she said was helpful in working with table. There was one crucial difference between the virtual anatomy table and the mouse she dissected, however: the odor. “The smell of chemicals and decomposition were potent,” Hanners said. “It made a lot of my high school classmates nauseous.” Instead, Hanners appreciates that the table removed that distraction and enabled her to focus on diving deep into anatomy. She said that each person within her small group got better at identifying organs and systems, as well as dissecting and reconstructing those systems. During a class in which Hunter reviewed the reproductive system, she showed students how uncomfortable pregnancy can be for expectant mothers. The students saw first-hand the pressure the baby puts on the surrounding organs, an exercise that elicited a variety of reactions from the students, including, “This is so cool,” “That is kind of scary,” and “You can see the baby’s heart beating!” Aug 16, 2023

  • What’s New This Fall at UMKC?

    Plenty! The Divine Nine Garden and two new recreational fields are just the beginning
    We’re excited to welcome everyone back to campus! You might have noticed some new additions (like the Roo blue and gold chairs) on campus. We’ve made it easier for you with a guide to what’s new here at UMKC this fall. Divine Nine Garden This dedicated space on the UMKC Volker Campus honors and recognizes the nine Black Greek organizations that make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council, also known as the Divine Nine. It will also serve as a gathering place for students and alumni to meet, celebrate, host events and reflect on the importance and achievements of their respective organizations. The Divine Nine Garden unveiling will happen 10:30 a.m. Sept. 9 at the Quad. Murals in Welcome Center The Welcome Center at the Atterbury Student Success Center has a new look. New UMKC murals are designed by Ruthie Ozonoff, who shared the process of designing the murals on her Instagram. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Ruthie Ozonoff📍KCMO (@designedbyruthie) Recreational Fields UMKC Campus Recreation has introduced two recreational fields on Oak Street to the UMKC community. The North Field is equipped with two sets of soccer goals and bleachers while the South Field is a cricket field. “We hope students, faculty, and staff will enjoy these new offerings to campus, especially with cricket being a sport that is growing in popularity on campus,” said Liz Hoffman-Shrout, director of Campus Recreation. Students, faculty, and staff can also reserve the fields for various sports, recreation and leisure activities. Also, lots of fun events are happening this fall on the fields. Roo Wellness UMKC Health and Wellness is combining all services and rebranding itself as Roo Wellness, which will consist of health services, counseling services and student accessibility services. “With Roo Wellness, we’re taking a holistic approach by having one department to increase student success and life-long wellbeing,” said Obie Austin, administrator of Student Health and Wellness. Roo Wireless We've partnered with Public Wireless to introduce Roo Wireless, an opportunity for qualifying students to get a free tablet with internet hotspot. You may qualify for Roo Wireless if your household income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines, or if you meet at least one of these criteria: Recipient of a federal Pell Grant in 2023 Participant in a government assistance program such as SNAP, Medicaid, housing assistance or a free or reduced lunch program Meet the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s low-income internet program Bioengineering Program The School of Science and Engineering has officially rolled out its Biomedical Engineering degree program. The high-demand major is based on a broad approach, combining electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science, chemistry, biology, physics, medical training, pharmacology and pure biomedical engineering courses. In the future, the program will have space in the $120 million Healthcare Innovation and Discovery Building, located at the UMKC Health Sciences Campus. More Campus Parking There are 63 metered parking spots plus three ADA spots on the first floor of the Oak Place Parking Garage. A map of all other parking spots can be found here. Blue and Gold Chairs Looking for a spot to relax between classes? The new blue and gold chairs in the Quad are calling your name! New Starbucks  The Student Union officially has a Starbucks! The location offers an order-ahead option using the Starbucks app, and will accept Starbucks giftcards. The option to pay using a meal plan is coming soon. Aug 14, 2023

  • Five Questions with New UMKC School of Law Dean

    Meet Lumen Mulligan
    Lumen (Lou) Mulligan, J.D., M.A., joined the School of Law as dean in July. He was previously the Interim Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs at the University of Kansas, as well as the Earl B. Shurtz Research Professor of Law. A Kansas City native, Mulligan understands the importance of UMKC School of Law to the greater community. What attracted you to UMKC School of Law initially? The mission and the people. UMKC Law has a deep commitment to being a best-value law school. We offer outstanding student success at an affordable price. When you look at our most recent employment numbers (96.6% employed for the class of 2022), the career arcs of our graduates and our low tuition, you can see the school’s commitment to being a premier law school. I was also inspired by the outstanding faculty, staff, students and alumni. They have all greeted me so warmly. It’s a privilege to be on a team with such a special group. What are you most looking forward to in your first year as dean? Meeting all our stakeholders and launching new initiatives. In my first month alone, I met with scores of alumni and friends, visited several law firms and worked closely with our entire team in the law school. I value creating these relationships and working with folks to further empower our community.  I am also excited for all the new programs we are launching in the next year. As of this December, all J.D. graduates will have access to a post-graduation bar prep course, which will be paid for from their tuition and fees. At most law schools, the entire cost of bar prep is borne by graduates in addition to their tuition. I am also looking forward to the opening of our new Center for Law, Entrepreneurship and Innovation this year, which is a groundbreaking interdisciplinary project. And by next summer, we’ll have started our new online Master of Legal Studies degree, which will provide legal education for those working in law-adjacent fields such as HR and compliance. You’ve previously worked in Kansas City as an attorney. Now that you’re back in Kansas City, what are you most excited about? I not only practiced here, “back in the day,” but I grew up in the KC metro. So it’s been a ton of fun already running into so many old friends, former students and new friends in the KC legal and civic community. It truly is a great place to practice law! Why did you originally pursue law school and being an attorney? Well, it was not a straight-line path for me. I went to college and studied civil engineering for a while. Then I earned a philosophy degree and went to graduate school.  I spent a while coaching swimming, working construction, waiting tables and hiking in Colorado. My eventual draw into law came later as I knew I wanted to be a profession where I could serve others, be challenged and work with great people. It’s been a wonderful career choice for me. What is something about you that may surprise people? I am an amateur guitarist, and with my daughters’ long-time engagement with dance, I can do a solid ballet bun and pull off a mildly acceptable fouetté turn myself. Aug 14, 2023

  • UMKC Biology Professor Receives $3.9 Million NIH Research Grant

    Research focuses on using massive electronic health records database to estimate the impacts of climate change on fungal disease spread in the U.S.
    Theodore White, Ph.D., division director and Marion Merrell Dow Endowed Professor in the UMKC School of Science and Engineering, was recently awarded a five-year $3.96 million National Institutes of Health grant to study fungal infections in the United States. Common fungal diseases in the United States include blood stream and lung diseases as well as athlete’s foot, vaginal yeast infections and oral thrush. These infections have been increasing in numbers and spreading globally for many years, with blood, brain and lung fungal infections having a 50% or more mortality rate. The lack of current data on the number of fungal infections in the United States, and the correlation to socioeconomic status, has precluded a deeper understanding of the role of climate change and extreme climate events on these fungal infections. White’s research aims to change that. “Over the last 10 years, we have been seeing increasing fungal infections, as well as significant climate changes,” White says. “Our grant will try to determine if there is a correlation between the two.” he said. White and his team will use a new database to better estimate the number and type of fungal infections across the United States on a yearly basis. The  database can track information from the last 15 years or more to examine the role of socioeconomic status of de-identified patients with these fungal infections, and determine if there is a correlation between those infections and climate change or extreme weather events. This project is a collaboration among the University of Missouri Kansas City, University of California, Berkeley and Children’s Mercy Kansas City. Aug 11, 2023

  • Sizemore Scholarship, Instrument Donation Keep Music Playing

    UMKC Conservatory students benefit from family’s generous gifts
    Katrinka Sizemore’s mother remembers that her daughter was so determined to play an instrument as a young child, that Katrinka convinced her aunt to give Katrinka her piano. “We never had to encourage her to play,” Kathy Riggs says of she and her husband, James Riggs. “Music was her.” In high school, Sizemore took oboe lessons, and her instructor told her she could compete at the state level.  ”She used her independent study time in school to practice oboe. It was music, music, music with this child and we just watched from the sidelines.” Sizemore attended UMKC and earned her B.A. in music in 2001; she graduated from the University of California – Los Angeles with a master’s in music in 2003. As an adult, Katrinka married Aaron Sizemore, a musician who began playing professionally when he was 15 years old. They started Music House, School of Music in Overland Park, Kansas, for children to learn to play instruments and perform in a collaborative setting. Aaron and Katrinka believed that music is made to be shared and developed a teaching method they felt was more collaborative and avoided an arrogance that was sometimes present in music education. “They sparked each other,” Riggs says. The concept and business was a success from the start. In two years, they had 300 students. Currently Music House has three locations. “Katrinka handled the business side, and she was inspired by the process,” Aaron says. “She was so smart and had so much grit and integrity.” Katrinka was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer when she was 30 years old. “She approached it as a learning opportunity,” Sizemore says. “She continued to teach, and she wrote an oboe book. The doctors told her she had two years to live. She survived for seven.” Aaron donated her oboe to UMKC, and with her parents established the Katrinka Marie Sizemore Music Scholarship to support students with financial need who are studying oboe performance.  Katrinka’s lifelong friend, Megan Shumaker, makes regular contributions to the scholarship through the Shumaker Family Foundation. “I knew Katrinka my whole life,” Shumaker says. “We were in cribs together. I thought a scholarship was a good way to remember her. Katrinka would have wanted something to help students go into the arts. "Katrinka would appreciate Antwone having the oboe, and that the fund will affect a lot of people over time who may have missed the opportunity for education because they couldn’t afford it.” — Aaron Sizemore Antwone Moore, a junior who is pursuing his bachelor’s degree in music education, is one student who has benefitted from Katrinka’s legacy. As with Katrinka, he is passionate about the oboe. He says that with the help of his 6th grade teacher, Bronwyn Short, “The oboe chose me.” When he began to think about college, UMKC seemed to be the perfect fit. A Kansas City, Kansas native, he didn’t want to be too far from home, and he was comfortable at the university. “I was familiar with the music department from being in the UMKC Conservatory Bridges program. After doing my research, I felt this was the right choice. I wanted my freedom,” he says. “But I didn’t want to be too far from home. The culture here is so nurturing.” Celeste Johnson, associate professor of oboe, was an advocate for Moore’s receiving Katrinka’s oboe. “I was thrilled that Antwone received this oboe – it could not go to a more deserving student.  I am so happy that this generous donation makes it possible for a talented, hard-working student like Antwone to pursue his goals and dreams to become a music teacher. Moore did not know that Johnson was working on his behalf, or that the gift of an oboe was even a possibility. “I don’t talk about this often, but I come from a very low-income family and have never owned my own instrument. I almost broke down crying when I received the news that Professor Johnson had done this for me. I’m still careful when I play it. I want to do my best to do right by Katrinka and Aaron.” “I think she’d be happy about the scholarship and the oboe donation,” Sizemore says. “As part of dealing with her mortality she became mindful of what really matters. Katrinka would appreciate Antwone having the oboe, and that the fund will affect a lot of people over time who may have missed the opportunity for education because they couldn’t afford it.” Aug 08, 2023

  • One-Time Gift Spurs Incredible Campaign of Giving

    How one man’s final gift will inspire generations
    It was an unusually warm and sunny late January day in Kansas City the day that David Westfall, Jr. (J.D. ’55) died. Those who knew him still remember his pleasant manner and giving spirit. At UMKC, his generosity is his legacy, though few here ever knew him at all. Westfall died in 2015 at the age of 89. The next year, the UMKC School of Law was contacted about an incredible, unexpected $1.1 million gift left behind in his estate. “It was a complete surprise,” says Kirk Baughan, who was the School of Law’s director of development at the time. He recalls how little anyone knew about Westfall at the time and says there wasn’t much more to be discovered. A native son of Kansas City, Westfall’s obituary reveals he was a proud Army veteran, serving a tour of duty in Europe during the second World War. Upon returning home, Westfall spent decades working as an attorney in the Argyle Building at 12th and McGee, later moving his practice to the historic Livestock Exchange Building in Kansas City’s West Bottoms. His personal life was dedicated to his faith in God and service to community, but never once is there mention of a spouse, children or any family at all. “He seemed to make his estate plan close to the time that he passed away,” says Baughan. “He knew that many of his assets were in his owned real estate. Gifts from his estate supported the UMKC School of Law, the University of Kansas and Saint Elizabeth’s Catholic Church in Kansas City.” Traditionally, a gift of $1 million or more made to a university is the result of a careful cultivation process. A dean and philanthropic impact professional will sit down with a company or individual to discuss detailed plans about the impact they want to make and how they want their money to be used. Not only was Westfall’s gift a surprise, but it was also completely unrestricted. Law School leadership and trustees knew they wanted to make the most of the windfall but weren’t immediately sure how to do it. Together, they decided on the idea of creating what they called The Westfall Matching Fund in support of law school scholarships, allowing donors to immediately double the impact of their contribution. “There was a lot of excitement around the arrival of this gift,” says J.R. Hobbs (J.D. ’81), then-president of the Law Foundation. “The trustees agreed that $300,000 would be used immediately to fund student scholarships. The remaining gift would be invested into the Law Foundation’s endowment and used to energize alumni and friends to create scholarship endowments to help students pay their tuition and fees.” The plan worked. The availability of matching funds was enough to convince donor after donor that their gift would go further through the School of Law. That was exactly the case for Ann Holmes, who established an endowed scholarship in honor of her father, Marvin Chester Holmes (J.D. ’37), who was once the president of his freshman class at then-Kansas City University. “I felt it was terribly important to honor my father with a named scholarship,” Holmes recalls. “As far as I know, my father never practiced law, but he used his education in many jobs — including that of a real estate appraiser.” Holmes admits the School of Law wasn’t necessarily her top charitable priority. However, after several meaningful conversations with the dean and learning that her gift would be doubled, she was convinced it was the right way to honor her father. Students were quick to join the excitement, too. The Diverse Student Coalition recently used the funds to grow its endowed scholarship to more than a quarter-of-a-million dollars through fundraising at its annual Diversity Banquet. The Campaign for Advocates, an effort to raise $1 million for UMKC Law’s advocacy programs, also benefited from the Westfall Matching Fund. Scott Bethune and Kent Emison established lead gifts for the campaign. The Westfall Matching Fund program encouraged several alumni and firms to join the campaign by creating their own named scholarships to support students who show talent and interest in pursuing trial advocacy careers. Those donors include the DanaJames Charitable Foundation; Wagstaff & Cartmell, LLP; The Hyde Family; and the Lathrop GPM Foundation. Westfall likely made a bigger impact than he could have known. The matching fund was so popular, it only took six years for the entire gift to be matched dollar-for-dollar. The final matching gift creates the Professor Julie M. Cheslik Merit Scholarship Endowment, an annual “full ride” scholarship expected to attract some of the brightest aspiring attorneys to UMKC. From the beginning, the Law Foundation knew the funds wouldn’t last forever. To honor his investment and ensure his legacy at UMKC, the Foundation renamed the endowed fund that supports academic achievement scholarships for law students the David I. Westfall, Jr. Merit Scholarship Endowment. Aug 04, 2023

  • Clean Slates

    UMKC Expungement Clinic helps Missourians find fresh starts
    When Johnny Waller, Jr., was 18 years old, he was tried, convicted and sent to prison in Nebraska. He served his time and returned to society, but quickly learned that although he was no longer behind bars, he also wasn’t truly free. Living with a criminal record was like carrying around a heavy weight all the time. “It’s not like you can successfully reintegrate back into society like people tell you,” Waller says. “You’re lucky if you can find a decent job or  a place to stay.” When you have to check the box on every job or housing application that says you have been convicted of a crime, doors close. That’s why Waller has dedicated his career to helping people open those doors once again. Waller, who holds a bachelor's and master's degree, serves as program manager at the School of Law's Clear My Record Expungement Clinic. The Clinic, founded in 2017 by retired law school dean, Ellen Suni, advocates for legislative changes to make expungement — the process of sealing past criminal records — more widely available in Missouri. The UMKC Expungement Clinic, which is affiliated with the project, represents low-income clients seeking expungement. If someone qualifies under Missouri law, a judge can grant an expungement of their convictions. With their record cleared, past convictions will not show up during background checks and they need not disclose their convictions on applications. “With the bang of a gavel, you can do all kinds of different things you couldn’t do before because you don’t have to check those boxes, ” Waller says. Waller himself was granted an expungement in 2018, 22 years after his initial conviction. The decision opened opportunities for him to pursue his education, start a business and work as an advocate to ease the collateral damage he says too often follows people after they leave prison. “Drug charges and theft offenses are the most common expungement cases at the UMKC Expungement Clinic,” says Sydney Ragsdale (J.D. ’18), a Truman Fellow who helps oversee the student lawyers who handle cases through the clinic. The mission behind the Expungement Clinic’s work has less to do with the details of clients’ past convictions and focuses more on the burdens imposed by those convictions, even years after fines are paid or a prison sentence is completed. “People are being wrongly held back from living their lives,” Ragsdale says. Since UMKC’s clinic began, its student lawyers have successfully assisted nearly a dozen clients. One such client is a man from New York who was caught with marijuana while passing through Missouri on a cross-country trip. That unfortunate pitstop led to a drug charge on his record and prevented him from getting a promotion he needed to support his family. Another client couldn’t rent an apartment or secure a mortgage to buy a house because of a DUI conviction. That mistake from his past kept him struggling to survive in low-income housing. A third client, a former childcare worker, had been charged with child endangerment after she momentarily left a student behind on a field trip. Although the child was unharmed, the mistake caused her to struggle both financially and emotionally for years afterward. “She was out in the world doing her best,” Ragsdale says. “She loved these kids, but made a mistake most parents have made at some point in their lives.” As with most clients the clinic represents, a mistake was still wreaking havoc on the woman’s life years later. Fortunately, like the man from New York with the drug charge and the man with the DUI conviction, she was granted an expungement and given the opportunity to finally start moving on. “The collateral consequences of convictions are just brutal,” says Suni, who continues to oversee the Clear My Record Project and teaches student lawyers working for the clinic. “There are the obvious things; people have trouble getting jobs, housing, public benefits and loans. The consequences cut across all areas, such as a parent not being permitted to go on their kid’s school trip. It  affects every aspect of their lives.” When the Clear My Record Project started, Suni hoped the expungement process in Missouri could be almost automatic. She thought perhaps a computer program could efficiently find eligible clients and help push through the required paperwork to help them get a fresh start. But as quickly as that idea arose, it became clear that Missouri’s expungement statute, substantially revised in 2018, was written far too narrowly for such automation. “The statute was very complex and confusing,” Suni recalls. “It became clear that this attempt to digitize the process to help people who don’t have lawyers wasn’t going to work.” A key issue was finding anyone who met the law’s narrow qualifications. For example, only certain non-violent and non-sex crimes are eligible for expungement. Furthermore, the law allows for the expungement of only one felony in a lifetime, and only two misdemeanors. As the 2018 law was written, a person had to wait seven years after completing a felony-related sentence or three years after a misdemeanor before applying for expungement. Moreover, having a pending case, even for a traffic violation, or owing fines or fees can prevent obtaining expungement. While hundreds of potential clients desperately needed a clean record to move forward, these strict requirements put expungement out of reach for most. “We discovered that very few people were fully eligible,” Suni says. Suni and others affiliated with the Clear My Record Project began using their experience with clients to push for changes that could open the process to more people and they’ve found some success. For example, the law was amended to shorten the waiting period to three years from seven for a felony, and to one year from three for a  misdemeanor, and a few new crimes were made eligible. Suni says the changes are an improvement, but more is needed. She and others across the state are advocating for additional legislative changes, including increasing the lifetime limit of convictions eligible for expungement to two felonies and three misdemeanors. Additional potential changes include providing more leeway for people who committed crimes between the ages of 16 and 25, and for those whose offenses occurred when they were addicted to drugs. Advocates also are pushing for the abolishment of a $250 surcharge currently assessed to anyone seeking expungement. Ragsdale says that fee, on top of other required court fees, puts expungement out of reach for many low-income clients who earn too much to receive a fee waiver, but will still struggle just to pay for food and housing. “It is way too expensive,” she says. Down the road, advocates would like to see the expungement process in Missouri become automatic. Once someone qualifies under the law, the state would initiate the process with no lawyer or court filing required. While advocates say the Missouri expungement process is still too complex and narrow, it has improved since UMKC’s clinic began. The clinic is seeing a bigger pool of qualified clients and the process is more efficient for hundreds of potential cases. Of the dozen expungements obtained through UMKC’s clinic, ten of those were granted during the last six months. In January, four of the clinic’s clients obtained expungement on the same day.       “It was extremely exciting,” says Kylee Gomez, a third-year law student who works as a research assistant at the clinic. “Until that point, we’d only had one or two happen.” “In every case, expungement is a second chance the client desperately needs,” says Bailey Baker, a second-year law student who also serves as a research assistant in the clinic. “I’ve seen how deeply the past mistakes someone makes, particularly when they were younger, can haunt them,” added Baker, a former social worker. “Expungement is a way to move on.” Some are hopeful for the future. Many of the provisions supported by the clinic passed both the Missouri House and Senate and will become law if signed by the governor. Aug 04, 2023

  • Adjunct Faculty Share Time and Talents with Next Generation

    Practicing attorneys, most of whom are alumni, volunteer their time and expertise as adjunct faculty for the School of Law
    In 1895, the UMKC School of Law was founded by volunteer attorneys. Today, practicing attorneys, most of whom are alumni, volunteer their time and expertise as adjunct faculty to prepare the next generation of attorneys.  During Spring Semester 2022, more than 35 attorneys served as adjunct instructors for the School of Law, teaching courses that ranged from federal trial practice to estate planning to disabilities and the law. The generosity of adjunct faculty allows the School of Law to offer more courses for students than most larger law schools. This also means that the student-faculty ratios in these courses are often quite low — about 12:1 — so students have an opportunity to develop strong mentoring relationships with local practicing attorneys. Throughout the 2022 academic year, volunteer adjunct faculty generated 1,301 student credit hours. Adjuncts taught or co-taught with more than 900 total enrollments across the courses. Considering that no adjuncts teach in the first-year program, Dean Barbara Glesner Fines estimates the average upper-level student is taking at least two-and-a-half courses with adjunct professors. UMKC Law is recognized as a top school for practical skills training. Fines comments, "a big part of that is the expertise and experience our adjuncts bring to the classroom." Adjunct faculty can enrich all aspects of the school’s curriculum. Many enjoy teaching in the law school’s innovative “mini-term” courses. Offered in an intensive one-week format between regular semesters or over Spring Break, these one credit-hour courses may introduce students to a specific area of practice. Course examples include: State and Local Government Law in a Nutshell, taught by Steve Moore (J.D. ’77); or Introduction to Workers Compensation Law and Practice, developed by Joan Klosterman (J.D. ’88) and the Honorable Lisa Meiners (J.D. ’96). Other mini-term courses explore a very specific problem in law and give students hands-on training to address those issues in practice. For example, Paul Anderson (J.D. ’12) established a course focused on concussion litigation, just as society was first becoming aware of the problems caused by sports concussions. He currently teaches a course in Missouri marijuana regulation. Mira Mdivani (J.D. ’99) and Danielle Atchison (J.D. ’14, MBA ’19) train students to help businesses obtain visas for international personnel. In alternate semesters, they guide students through the skills necessary to represent immigrant victims of domestic violence. Kendall Seal (J.D. ’08) explores the problem of human trafficking with his students. “As far as I know there is only one other law school in the nation, the University of Cincinnati, whose alumni and community members all volunteer as adjuncts,” Glesner Fines said. “Given the competitive market for top talent, adjuncts may see their teaching as a recruitment opportunity for their law firms. Volunteer teaching fulfills most of an attorney’s requirement for annual continuing education, saving that expense.” “But these reasons are not what keep adjuncts coming back to the classroom year after year,” she continued. “Probably the most common reason adjuncts teach is because they simply enjoy interacting with students and view their teaching as a way to fulfill the duty all attorneys have to provide pro bono service to the profession. Others see teaching as the best way to stay current and hone their expertise in their field, making them better attorneys.” Some adjuncts teach their courses for decades. Adjunct Professor Jim Wyrsch (LL.M. ’73) first taught his Criminal Trial Techniques class in 1981. He was assisted in early years by the Hon. Charles Atwell (J.D. ’78) and soon after by his law partner J.R. Hobbs (J.D. ’81). Wyrsch and Hobbs still offer the course today. Some of the school’s most highly ranked programs were originally staffed by adjunct faculty under the supervision of a single full-time professor. The nationally ranked Trial Advocacy Program was limited to only 12 students each year until UMKC Law alumni, including Tim Dollar, approached Dean Jeffrey Berman to advocate for an expanded program. Today, a team of 13 adjunct faculty members teach the Trial Advocacy I course under the direction of Professor Michaelle Tobin. The Family Law Program, ranked in the top four nationally, benefits from dedicated alumni who teach the Family Law Practice course. Clinical Professor Mary Kay O’Malley supervises this course, taught by a team of nine adjuncts; the course was first developed by adjunct professor Betsy Ann Stewart (J.D. ’67).   Glesner Fines said some clinic-based programs require a significant time commitment from volunteer adjuncts. “Not only do the faculty have to train the students in the doctrine and skills," Fines says, "they then have to take on actual cases for clients and supervise students representing those clients.” One example is the Abandoned Housing Clinic, founded by Adjunct Professor David White (J.D. ’82). Students in the clinic represent the Kansas City Land Bank, clearing property titles so the city can move them to productive uses. Currently that clinic is directed and taught by Adjunct Professors Brandon Mason (J.D. ’16) and Angelo Banks (J.D. ’19). Glesner Fines is grateful for the contributions of her adjunct faculty. “I’m so proud of their willingness to step up and take on this big job.” Aug 04, 2023

  • UMKC, Veterans Community Project Gives Veterans the Edge in Booming Urban Agriculture Industry

    Container farming program plants seed for training as a pathway to economic viability
    There’s something special growing inside a cluster of shipping containers outside the Veterans Community Project at 89th and Troost Avenue in Kansas City. Inside three independent-model container farmhouses, U.S. military veterans are learning how to use controlled-growth environments for crops such as basil and mushrooms, and eventually strawberries. While there’s no soil inside the massive containers, there is an abundance of opportunity for the military veterans who are learning agribusiness skills that can improve their lives, as well as help feed the community. They're part of the From Seed To Table program, a pilot program between the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the Veterans Community Project (VCP), a nonprofit organization focused on ending military veteran homelessness. The VSP team recruits, selects and trains military veterans on container-farm processes, hydroponic systems, food safety and technological innovations combining farm and STEM for increased specialty crop production. Veterans also receive financial, marketing, entrepreneurship and private pesticide applicator training. The coalition’s overarching goal is to establish a pathway to economic viability and independence for veterans. The program has three main objectives: Recruit and retain 50 military veteran beginning farmers Transition at least 50% of these veteran farmers to agricultural or farm-STEM part-or full-time employment opportunities Develop a veteran, urban, organic and sustainable-focused pilot program that can be replicated at future VCP site locations by guaranteeing a market for specialty crops Led by Angela Cottrell, Ed.D., director of research and institute programs for the Missouri Institute for Defense and Energy and adjunct instructor in the UMKC School of Education, Social Work and Psychological Sciences, the program is funded by a three-year, $600,000 grant from the USDA and a $63,000 grant from the UMKC Entrepreneurship Innovation Program through the Kauffman Foundation. Cottrell partnered with U.S. Marine veteran and VCP CEO Bryan Meyer, J.D. ’06, whom she advised while he was studying law at UMKC. “I met with Bryan and just tossed out the idea, ‘What do you think about training veterans on controlled-environment agriculture?’” Cottrell said. Meyer didn’t need much convincing. His enthusiastic response to the idea, “All about it. Let’s go!’ planted the seed for forward movement. Cottrell said controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) has grown exponentially in recent years and is expected to be a $170 billion industry by 2025.  She envisioned a program where veterans could gain a new skill set, be compensated for their time and enter into a workforce development pipeline where they can find additional employment, and start their own farm or utilize that skill set to transition into a farm STEM-related position. Faculty from across several UMKC academic units joined to contribute their expertise. Juan Cabrera-Garcia, Ph.D., assistant research professor at UMKC and state vegetable specialist at University of Missouri Extension, serves as the team’s holistic horticulture expert and leads efforts to get the hydroponic systems up and running. JJ Lee, Ph.D., in earth and environmental sciences is helping to optimize sensors and water treatment systems. Jeff Hornsby, Ph.D., Henry W. Bloch Endowed Chair of Entrepreneurship and Director of the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation leads entrepreneurship training for the veterans. Charles Murnieks, Ph.D., associate professor and the A. Gottlieb Chair of Strategic Management in the Department of Entrepreneurship and Management leads the entrepreneurship training for the veterans. Karin Chang, Ph.D., associate director and associate research professor in the School of Education, Social Work and Psychological Sciences, ensures the primary objectives are being met in her role as the external evaluator for the project. Controlled-environment techniques offer several advantages over traditional farming. “This is a solution, particularly for cities like Kansas City, and for areas where growing traditionally is just not possible,” Cottrell explained. “You’re reducing that footprint, yield 10 times the amount that you would on an acre of land, and you can grow year-round. Even if it’s 10 degrees outside we’re still able to farm, produce and train our veterans.” Not only are veterans learning how to grow the crops, but they’re also gaining other marketable job skills, including pesticide application and produce safety, according to Cabrera-Garcia. “We give them certificates to ensure that they have the ability to get hired in any agricultural enterprise,” Cabrera-Garcia said. Meyer said the partnership with UMKC appealed to him not only in terms of the growth and development it could offer local veterans, but also the shared goal with VCP to expand outreach beyond Kansas City. “This couldn’t have happened without community support,” Meyer said. “Now that we’ve established this model, we can grow into other locations." The first two cohorts of veterans have gone through the training program, and the next started in July. Their produce is available at Everyday Produce in Kansas City, as well as in local restaurants. While the education component remains at the forefront of the program, Cottrell says the team is “thinking big,” with plans to eventually distribute the produce to local neighborhoods in need. “We want to have a multimillion-dollar controlled-environment agriculture facility in Kansas City, where we are hyper-focused on serving impoverished neighborhoods  where we know food deserts exist, where we know access to nutritional food is expensive and very difficult to find,” Cottrell said. “We want to try to utilize this CEA system to provide that for Kansas City.” To further their efforts, Cottrell and Cabrera-Garcia are exploring interest and opportunities to develop a formal curriculum on CEA to attract new UMKC students and expose current students in other programs to urban agriculture. They received a $29,998 grant from National Institute of Food and Agriculture to survey the industry and UMKC students to assess the potential viability of a developing a minor degree. “There are individual classes and certificate programs available elsewhere. We want CEA to be the entire focus,” Cottrell said. Beside the educational component, she sees community benefits. “This could be students helping students. I could see students working the containers and we could provide fresh produce to the food pantry at the Dr. Raj Bala Agrawal Care Center at UMKC. It could go to Sodexo to be used in the university’s cafeteria.” In addition to the actual production, Cottrell sees opportunities for faculty as well. “There’s the opportunity for faculty engagement through biology, chemistry and medicine. We know there’s an interest in this type of programming in Kansas City. The students are excited about it. If we were able to move forward, we would be early adopters from an educational perspective.” Aug 03, 2023