Ann Nasti, DMD, associate dean for clinical education in the Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine, has been selected as the 2021 recipient of the Stephen H. Leeper Award for Teaching Excellence by Omicron Kappa Upsilon (OKU), the National Dental Honor Society. According to OKU, the award “recognizes dental educators who have displayed exemplary standards in dental pedagogy while demonstrating vision and advancement in dental education. This award honors individuals who have implemented innovative techniques or displayed excellence in dental education, and who have instituted creative and unique methods of educating and engaging students, faculty, and administrators.”
Dr. Nasti exemplifies the meaning behind the Leeper Award. Although she serves as associate dean for Clinical Education, she has expertly fulfilled multiple roles within the School of Dental Medicine since joining as a part-time faculty member in 1982. Dr. Nasti has long been a trailblazer within dental medicine; this pioneering spirit propelled her within her clinical and teaching trajectory over the past three decades.
An early adaptor of oral healthcare advancements, Dr. Nasti served on the team that designed and implemented the digital dentistry curriculum at the School of Dental Medicine. She was instrumental in having Stony Brook chosen as one of five pilot schools selected by the American College of Prosthodontists to pilot its clinical and didactic courses. Furthermore, Dr. Nasti is co-founder of the School of Dental Medicine’s Club CAD, whose mission is to support the education of, and collaboration among, students, residents, and faculty in the promotion of current and emerging digital technologies.
Dr. Nasti has been an advocate for diversity within the School of Dental Medicine. She is the founder and former director of the widely successful Discover Dental School Summer Scholars’ Program, an immersive introduction to dental school for undergraduate students interested in the field. To meet a more inclusive audience, she supports a diversity scholarship for the program. Additionally, Dr. Nasti serves within the School of Dental Medicine’s Diversity Committee and the College Pipeline Program at Stony Brook University for underrepresented students.
Dr. Nasti demonstrates a tireless commitment to the School of Dental Medicine and its future. This is seen most plainly in her dedication to the success and mentorship of the Doctor of Dental Surgery program students. Her encouragement helps bring to life innovative events, such as a recent hands-on learning session for Club CAD held via Zoom. Notably, her assistance and feedback foster students’ achievements in both research and clinical areas — whether they’re presenting a research poster at a national meeting or securing first place in a national aesthetic clinical case contest.
In speaking with just one of the countless students who have benefited from Dr. Nasti’s involvement in their education, her impact is clear. “Through the years, Dr. Nasti has pushed me to become a leader in dentistry, which has only enhanced my dental education,” said Noelle Fischer. Dr. Nasti’s interactions with Noelle when she was a participant in the Summer Scholars’ Program is why she chose to attend the School of Dental Medicine. Noelle feels ahead of the curve in the digital age of dentistry and matched into her top choice for residency, which she attributes largely to guidance from Dr. Nasti. “Without her constant support and mentorship, I would not be where I am today,” said Noelle. “I know I can always go to her with anything.”
Dr. Nasti’s receipt of the award has been announced through OKU and will be celebrated at the organization’s next annual meeting. “Dr. Ann Nasti is an engaging and valued faculty member,” said Interim Dean Allan J. Kucine, DDS. “She embodies the highest teaching and mentoring standards exemplified by candidates for the Stephen H. Leeper Award for Teaching Excellence. The School of Dental Medicine proudly congratulates her on being chosen for this honor.”