The University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine is pleased to announce the new Senior Associate Dean of Academic Achievement and Innovation, Tracy de Peralta, DMD, Ph.D., MClinEd.
De Peralta's impressive and extensive career has taken her abroad to the United Kingdom and Germany, and most recently, the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. A national leader in educational change and innovation, she was responsible for implementing educational programs, serving as a co-chair of the school's strategic planning committee. She was also a director of the Pathways Program.
The CU SDM communications team did a brief question and answer series with De Peralta to introduce her to the community.
SDM Communications: First off, welcome to Colorado. We are happy you are a part of the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine team.
De Peralta: I am honored to become part of this team!
SDM Communications: You recently made the more than 1,200-mile move, during a pandemic, from Ann Arbor, Michigan, to the CU School of Dental Medicine on the Anschutz Medical Campus. Now that you're here, what are you looking forward to the most?
De Peralta: People (Students, Staff, Faculty, Patients, Alumni). I enjoy interacting with people, learning together and providing optimal patient care in the school. Today, our educational models recognize the importance of interdisciplinary professional education and patient care. I am delighted to be on the Anschutz Medical Campus, where state-of-the-art health science programs are housed. I see this as an incredible opportunity to collaborate across healthcare disciplines to advance clinical education for our students, care for our patients, and conduct research for best practices in our future.
Teaching in the Clinics
While I enjoy all types of learning environments in an academic setting, I particularly enjoy the unique opportunities dental education provides for engagement with other colleagues, clinical staff, students, and patients in clinical learning environments. I am looking forward to this extended experience here at CU SDM.
Collaboration in research
I am very proud to join the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine faculty, and I look forward to supporting teams of faculty, students, and staff in research here at the school. Together, I look forward to representing this great institution as we move forward in innovation for advancement in dental education and clinical care.
SDM Communications: What do you love most about working in academia and dentistry?
Being in a university setting
Since my undergraduate days at UC Davis, I have loved being a part of an academic environment in higher education. While I love to explore new ideas, I also enjoy focusing on evidence to drive advancement in topics I find passion in.
Working across multi-faceted learning environments
Dental education offers a long list of different learning environments that are unique in clinical education. As we enhance curricula today with remote learning, dental educators have the opportunity to be leaders again in excellence as we look closely at the technology in new learning models. I look forward to moving across multiple facets of our education models here at the school.
Libraries, Libraries, Libraries
I enjoy visiting and getting to know different libraries in academia. In my first week on the Anschutz Medical Campus, I visited the Strauss Health Science Library. I was impressed with the resources and library-environment available for our campus community, and I look forward to accessing these resources in the future.
SDM Communications: You have an extensive medical and educational background (DMD, Ph.D., MClinEd), can you talk about your experience?
Undergraduate Degree in Physiology at UC Davis
Go Aggies! UC Davis was my first experience in higher education. Here I discovered my passion for cellular biology and how cells work together for complex physiological functions. This passion has stayed with me throughout my career.
Pre-Doctoral Program at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine
Like many, I found my dental education to be challenging, exciting, and rewarding. I enjoyed being at Tufts and living in a big city. I am grateful to Tufts School of Dental Medicine for helping me build a clinical and professional foundation.
Doctorate at Heinrich-Heine University of Duesseldorf, Germany
As a junior faculty member at the University of Duesseldorf, I completed my Doctorate in 2004. My dissertation in this program focused on odontoblast function and the effects of selective desensitization of C-Fibers and A-Delta pain fibers in the dental pulp. My passion for and understanding of the odontoblast's biological mechanisms has served me well throughout my career in dentistry.
Masters at the University of Plymouth in the UK
The transition from Germany to the UK involved a change in my research focus from basic sciences to clinical education. I have been looking at best practice in student feedback, reflective clinical practice, and clinical competency assessment. In the UK, I completed a Masters in Clinical Education, providing me with the building blocks to look at educational models and evaluation, using both qualitative and quantitative analysis to give evidence on best practices in dental education.
SDM Communications: You worked in the United Kingdom and Germany for a while, tell us about your experience abroad?
De Peralta: In the first summer break of my DMD program at Tufts, I took the opportunity to do the DAAD (German Academic Exchange). This program brought me to Germany for the summer of 1992. I then returned following graduation from Tufts in 1995. After spending more than a year in private practice, I join the faculty at the University of Dusseldorf in 1997 until I moved to the UK in 2007.
In 2007, I became part of a faculty start-up team for the first new dental school (Peninsula Dental School) in the UK in 40 years. Here our team focused on first-time accreditation with the UK's General Dental Council. Peninsula's dental educational model is cutting edge and innovative. I was proud to be part of this pioneering team and our success together in this accreditation process.
In 2012, after accreditation completion in the UK, my husband and I decided it was time to return to the US, where the University of Michigan School of Dentistry welcomed me as a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Cariology, Restorative Sciences and Endodontics. Here I became the Director of Curriculum and Assessment Integration schoolwide and had the pleasure to lead the University of Michigan's Pathways Program. This curricular enrichment program allowed each student in the DDS program to carry out a funded capstone project of their choice over three years. All students in this program dedicated 10% of their total curriculum time to Pathways.
SDM Communications: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
De Peralta: I am very proud of my unique career path and all the opportunities I have taken over the years. I have met the most incredible people along the way and always look forward to the next phase of learning in my life through my career in dentistry.
SDM Communications: What's a message you'd like to convey to our dental students and residents?
De Peralta: Define your passion and follow it, learn as you redefine it over time, and enjoy the journey.
SDM Communications: What do you like to do in your spare time?
De Peralta: I have been rowing for the past six years, and I am looking forward to rowing opportunities here in the Denver area. I enjoy cycling with my husband, traveling to new places, experiencing different cultures, and hanging out in our garden.
SDM Communications: Thank you for your time and again, welcome to the CU School of Dental Medicine on the Anschutz Medical Campus.