Our Faculty & Residents

Division of Prosthodontics

Program Directors

Heather J. Conrad, DMD, MS, FACP, FRCDC
Associate Professor & Director

Dr. Conrad graduated from the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada, with a Doctor of Dental Medicine in 1997. While working full time in private practice, she became a Sessional Lecturer and Course Coordinator for the second year Fixed Prosthodontics class at the University of Saskatchewan. After six years, she decided to leave private practice and pursue an academic career by enrolling in post graduate studies at the University of Minnesota. She completed the Advanced Education Program in Prosthodontics and Master of Science degree in 2006 and accepted an offer for tenure track Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota, School of Dentistry. She has since completed the American and Canadian specialty examinations to become a Fellow of the American College of Prosthodontists and a Fellow of the Royal College of Dentists of Canada. In April 2012, Dr. Conrad was appointed the Director of the Advanced Education Program in Prosthodontics and promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure. Dr. Conrad is the Course Director for PROS 7200 Advanced Clinical Prosthodontics, PROS 7210 Advanced Technical Restorative Dentistry, DENT 7111 Current Literature Review Seminar, DENT 7112 Treatment Planning Seminar, and DENT 7220 Prosthetically-Driven Implant Surgery and Treatment Planning. In the School of Dentistry, she is a member of the Council of Chairs, Dean Search Committee, Advanced Education Program Directors Committee, Institutional Effectiveness Committee, and Graduate School Faculty Roster. With the American Dental Education Association, Dr. Conrad was elected to a 3-year term as an Officer for the Section on Prosthodontics, followed by a 4-year term as a Board Member with the Council of Advanced Education Programs (COAEP), and is now currently serving a 3-year term as the Board Director for COAEP. In 2018, Dr. Conrad was elected as a Director of the American Board of Prosthodontics (ABP) and now additionally serves as the Secretary for the ABP. Dr. Conrad was honored with the 2015 Educator of the Year award by the American College of Prosthodontists and she became a Fellow of the ADEA Leadership Institute in 2016. She currently serves as the Interim Chair of the Department of Restorative Sciences at the University of Minnesota.

Full bio

James R. Holtan, DDS, FACP
Associate Professor Emeritus

Dr. Holtan arrived at the University Of Minnesota School Of Dentistry in 1986 after retiring from the Dental Corps of the United States Navy. He is presently an Associate Professor in the School of Dentistry. He has served in a variety of educational and administrative positions at the School of Dentistry including Chair of The Department of Restorative Sciences from 1997-2004. Dr. Holtan has authored a number of scientific abstracts and articles in his area of interest. He is a member of appropriate professional organizations including the American Dental Association, the American College of Prosthodontists, the American Academy of Fixed Prosthodontics and the International Association for Dental Research. Dr. Holtan is currently Director Emeritus of the Advanced Education Program in Prosthodontics.

Full bio

Richard J. Goodkind, DMD, MS
Professor Emeritus

Dr. Goodkind graduated from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in 1962 and graduated from the University of Michigan Rackham School of Graduate Studies in Removable Prosthodontics in 1964. He is a life Diplomate of the American Board of Prosthodontics. He has published extensively in refereed journals with color in dentistry being his main topic of interest. In addition, he has co-authored a textbook with Dr. James L. Baker titled Theory and Practice of Precision Attachment Removable Partial Dentures. He has lectured extensively throughout his career in the United States and abroad. Dr. Goodkind directed the Advanced Education Program in Prosthodontics at the University of Minnesota from 1969 till his retirement in 1997. He is presently a visiting instructor and guest lecturer for the graduate program.

Faculty

Ranier M. Adarve, DMD, MS, MHPE
Associate Professor

Dr. Adarve is a graduate of University of the Philippines College of Dentistry with a degree of Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) in 1996 and Masters in Health Professions Education (MHPE) in 2002 from the UP-National Teachers Training Center for Health Professions. For five years, he was a part time faculty member of the UP College of Dentistry while working full time in private practice. In 2002, Dr. Adarve pursued further postgraduate programs in University of Minnesota. He completed Advance Education Program in Prosthodontics and Masters of Science Degree in 2005 and also completed Multimedia Design and Development from the Department of Curriculum and Instruction of the School of Education in the same year. In 2005, Dr. Adarve was appointed Assistant Professor in Oregon Health and Sciences University and became the Director of Fixed Prosthodontics Program. In 2007, he moved back to University of Minnesota to accept an offer to be a member of the faculty of the Department of Restorative Sciences Division of Prosthodontics, where he was appointed to be the Course Director for Pre-Clinical Fixed Prosthodontics. Since then, he held various teaching and service roles for undergraduate dental students, International students, and Graduate Prosthodontic residents. Dr. Adarve is an active member of American Dental Education Association (ADEA) since 2004. He became the President of the Educational Research / Development and Curriculum Section of the ADEA in 2011. Currently, he is the most published author in MedEdPORTAL and in 2012; he received the Teaching Excellence Award by ADEA-Colgate Palmolive Co. in recognition of his scholarship and educational innovation. Dr. Adarve is also a practicing Prosthodontist. He is a consultant of the Minnesota Board of Dentistry for Prosthodontics and also a liaison to Central Regional Dental Testing Center (CRDTS). He lectures locally and internationally and runs a study club for general dentist.

Full bio

Bobby Birdi, DMD, MS, FACP, FRCDC
Adjunct Assistant Professor

Dr. Birdi is originally from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Alberta and his DMD with distinction from the University of Saskatchewan in 2006. Dr. Birdi then moved to Minnesota for post-graduate training in Prosthodontics, and then Periodontics (University of Minnesota). He is a Fellow and Examiner of the Royal College of Dentists of Canada, a certified specialist in Prosthodontics and Periodontics, a Diplomate of the American Board of Prosthodontists, a Fellow of the American College of Prosthodontists, and a member of the Association of Prosthodontists of Canada. He is also a member of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, the International Congress of Oral Implantologists, the Academy of Osseointegration, International Team for Implantology, and the American Academy of Periodontology. He is a reviewer for the Journal of Oral Implantology and the International Journal of Oral & Maxillofacial Implants (IJOMI), and has been appointed to the IJOMI Editorial Review Board. Dr. Birdi is currently in private practice in Alberta and British Columbia, Canada. His practice focuses on complex esthetic and prosthodontic treatment and the placement and restoration of dental implants. Dr. Birdi is also teaching part-time in Prosthodontics and Implantology at the University of Minnesota.

Brandon DeWitt, DDS, MS, FACP
Adjunct Assistant Professor

Brandon DeWitt graduated as a Doctor of Dental Surgery from the School of Dental Medicine at the State University of New York at Buffalo in 2007. He then attended a one year general practice residency at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. Following this he completed a three year advanced training program in Prosthodontics at the University of Minnesota and obtained a master's degree. In 2011, he joined the staff of Hennepin County Medical Center's Department of Dentistry and was accepted into the National Health Service Corps. He currently enjoys providing compassionate care that truly bridges the various gaps many patients must overcome in order to access dental treatment. The hospital's integrated environment also enables him to coordinate multidisciplinary treatment goals with his medical colleagues. In addition to this, he has responsibility for clinical instruction, presentations, and prosthodontic mentoring to dental residents in the general practice training program. His current role demonstrates the function of Prosthodontics as a primary care dental specialty.

Richard Dryer, DDS, MS
Adjunct Assistant Professor

Dr. Richard Dryer received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry in 2002, then completed a one year general practice residency at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio. He practiced as a general dentist in Chicago, IL for two years before entering Federal Service. Dr. Dryer practiced as a dentist with the Indian Health Service for five years in Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico and received several awards for his service; including the Distinguished Service Award and Clinical Excellence Award. After practicing as a general dentist for eight years, Dr. Dryer returned to the University of Minnesota and received his specialty certificate in prosthodontics in 2013 and Master of Science Degree in 2014. Following graduation, Dr. Dryer was appointed Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry from 2013-2016. Currently, Dr. Dryer is in private practice limited to prosthodontics and implant dentistry in Chicago, Illinois. He maintains his passion for teaching as an Adjunct Assistant Professor and instructs residents in surgical prosthodontics and dental implant surgery. 

Steven E. Eckert, DDS, MS, FACP
Adjunct Professor

Following graduation from The Ohio State University College of Dentistry, Dr. Eckert completed a General Practice Residency at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Chicago. After his graduate training in Prosthodontics at the Mayo Clinic, he remained there to earn a Master of Science degree. He was then invited to be on staff at this prestigious clinic where he remains Professor Emeritus in Dentistry at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. Perhaps Dr. Eckert’s greatest achievement was being elected by his peers to be a director/examiner for the American Board of Prosthodontics.
 Dr. Eckert has written extensively about implant dentistry and is currently Editor-in-Chief for the International Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Implants.

Kendall James, DMD
Adjunct Assistant Professor

Dr. James is from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. In 2006, he graduated from University of Lethbridge, Alberta with a Bachelor of Science, Majoring in Neuroscience. During his time in Lethbridge he completed research in Emotional Cognition through the Canadian Center of Behavioral Neuroscience. Dr. James received his dental degree from the University of Sydney, Australia. In his final year of dental school, he was the student body president, and served on several dental committees including the Australian Oral health foundation Committee, the NSW ADA recent graduates committee, the Faculty of Dentistry Academic Committee, and the Dental Alumni Committee. His honors research topic “Quantifying central incisor dimensions using external and internal anatomical landmarks”, received grant funding from the Australian Dental Research Foundation. After completing his education in Sydney, Dr. James worked in private practice in Tropical Queensland, Australia. He returned to North America in 2011 to be closer to his extended family and pursue a residency in Prosthodontics. Dr. James research interests include quantifying the general population’s perception of esthetics and how dental esthetics enhances ones mate value. When Dr. James isn’t in the lab or clinics he can be found spending time with his family, mostly outdoors. His family has added “survived a Minnesota Winter” to their list of accomplishments.

Wook-Jin Seong, DDS, MS, PhD, FACP
Associate Professor

Dr. Seong is an Associate Professor, a tenured faculty in the Division of Prosthodontics, Department of Restorative Sciences, School of Dentistry, University of Minnesota. He started his academic career as an Assistant Professor in 1999 and has successfully completed his specialty board certification process from the American Board of Prosthodontics in Feb. of 2000. He is currently responsible for undergraduate implant prosthodontics preclinical and clinical instructions as well as graduate seminar and clinical instructions. Dr. Seong has earned his Master of Science degree in the area of dental implants in 2000. His continued interests in implants made him further pursue his PhD degree in oral biology. He earned his PhD in the area of biomechanics with oral biology major and biomedical engineering minor. His research area covered nano-indentation technique on biologic tissue and materials, implant stability measurements, and healing bone-implant interface characterization. Upon completion of his PhD in 2006, his research expanded to the area of bone stimulation, dental implant bone cement & polymer-CNT bone scaffold developments, and clinical trials and animal studies. Dr. Seong is participating in several subcommittees on research, clinic, and curriculum in an effort of making school-wide strategic planning successful. Dr. Seong also serves public by practicing prosthodontics including dental implants in the faculty practice clinic.

Full bio

Charles Stendahl, DMD, MS
Adjunct Professor

Dr. Stendahl is a 1971 graduate of Northwestern University Dental School and received his Master of Science in dentistry from Marquette University School of Dentistry in 1981. He was certified by the American Board of Prosthodontics in 1982. Dr. Stendahl was employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota from 1978 to 2007 when he retired. During this period, he served as Staff Prosthodontist, Director of the General Practice Residency Program, Assistant Chief and Acting Chief of the Dental Service. Since 1980, Dr. Stendahl has been a part time faculty member at the University Of Minnesota School Of Dentistry and is currently an adjunct professor in the Graduate Prosthodontic Program. Dr. Stendahl’s professional interests are in the areas of complete and removable partial prosthodontics.

Residents

Anne Beaudin, DMD
3rd Year Resident

Born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Dr. Anne Beaudin received her Doctor of Dental Medicine degree in 2015 from McGill University. Upon graduation, she received the Academy of General Dentistry’s senior dental student award, the American Dental Society of Anesthesiology award, the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons award, the American Association of Public Health award, and many other honors from the McGill dental faculty. She then completed a General Practice Residency at McGill University, where she was designated Chief Resident. Prior to becoming a prosthodontic resident, Dr. Beaudin worked as a general dentist in a private practice. Her love for teaching and giving back brought her to become a clinician for the McGill dental students and to serve in several dental missions in South America. Her interest in advanced restorations brought her to accept a new challenge at the University of Minnesota. Upon completion of her specialty certificate and master’s degree, Dr. Beaudin intends to practice prosthodontics in Montreal and pursue her passion for teaching. Aside from dentistry, she loves yoga, spending time with her friends, family and fiancé, and discovering the world.

Jamie Bruno, DDS
3rd Year Resident

Dr. Jamie Bruno was born and raised in Auburn, New York. She attended Siena College in Albany, NY, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. She then continued her education in Bradenton, Florida, where she attended LECOM dental school from 2014 to 2018. In addition to her studies, she was active in many clubs and assumed leadership roles as Vice President of AAWD, Secretary of Fitness Club, and Director of the LECOM 5K to benefit the student scholarship fund. Upon earning her DMD degree from LECOM School of Dental Medicine, Dr. Bruno was awarded the International Congress of Oral Implantologists Award. Throughout dental school, Dr. Bruno developed an interest in prosthodontics, especially removable prosthetics. Now in this Advanced Education Program, Dr. Bruno is eager to expand her knowledge on implant dentistry and improve her skills in planning and treating complex restorative cases. Outside of dentistry, she enjoys cooking, CrossFit, and softball in her spare time.

Quoc Nguyen, DMD
3rd Year Resident

Dr. Quoc Nguyen was born in Vietnam and grew up in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He obtained his Doctor of Dental Medicine from Université de Montréal in 2011. He then completed a one-year General Practice Residency program from the University of British Columbia focusing on treatment and management of medically complex patients in hospital establishments, such as the Vancouver General Hospital and BC Cancer Agency. He also had the opportunity to work in different community and rural clinics in Vancouver, Kelowna and Haida Gwaii. He has since then developed a keen interest in providing oral health care to underserved communities. He then returned to Montreal where he worked as a General Dentist and as a Clinical Lecturer for McGill University at the Jim Lund Dental Clinic, where he had the privilege to provide dental care to an underprivileged patient community, and to oversee treatments provided by rotating undergraduate dental students. Dr. Nguyen has always been fascinated by Prosthodontics, a specialty in dentistry that demands creativity, ingenuity and resourcefulness. He has therefore decided to pursue additional training in comprehensive and complex prosthodontics rehabilitation, and is very proud to be part of the University of Minnesota Advanced Education Program in Prosthodontics.

Mohammed Akl, DDS
2nd Year Resident

Although originally Lebanese, Dr. Mohammed Akl was born and raised in Dubai, UAE, where he obtained his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of Sharjah in 2018. While in dental school he served on the Board of Directors for multiple national and international dental student associations. Dr. Akl’s passion for prosthodontics brought him all the way to Minnesota after practicing general dentistry in the Middle East for one year. An interest in digital and graphic design—a self-taught hobby—informs how he plans to explore the burgeoning, dynamic clinical and research field of digital dentistry during his time at the University of Minnesota. Following completion of the program, Dr. Akl plans to continue practicing prosthodontics while dedicating time to teaching young student-dentists and help them master the art and science of prosthodontics. Outside of dentistry, he enjoys reading, spending time with his friends, and discovering the beautiful state of Minnesota.

Jonathan Casiano, DDS
2nd Year Resident

Dr. Jonathan Casiano was born in Texas and from a young age, he would cross the border of El Paso and Juarez to go to his mom’s dental clinic in Mexico. This early exposure guided him into dentistry, where his interest in prosthodontics flourished in dental school. From Texas, his family moved around to Wisconsin, Alabama, and Florida. Dr. Casiano received his Doctor of Dental Medicine from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2017, receiving the AGD Excellent Student Award upon graduation. From there, Dr. Casiano worked for two years in public and private clinics. He then sought advanced education in implantology and esthetics at the University of Minnesota Graduate Prosthodontics. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his African Grey parrot, his family and friends, botany, and being outdoors.

Angela Velasquez, DDS
2nd Year Resident

Dr. Angela Velasquez was raised in between Texas and Colombia. Since she was a child, she dreamed of becoming a dentist. After graduating from high school, she started pursuing her dream by working as a dental assistant while simultaneously studying for her biology degree at a local community college. As a dental assistant, she had the opportunity to work at different dental specialty practices which confirmed her desire to become a dental professional. It was while working at Clear Choice Implant Centers that she fell in love with Prosthodontics. After completing her Doctor in Dental Surgery degree with honors from Institucion Universitaria Colegios de Colombia in 2018, Dr Velasquez returned to the United States and had the opportunity to work at a prosthodontic practice in Texas for a year. She moved to Minnesota in June of 2019 to fulfill her dream of becoming a prosthodontist! She is very proud to be part of the selected group of residents at the University of Minnesota and hopes to relocate to her hometown of Austin, TX, after completing her graduate training.

Ashton Merati, DMD, MS
1st Year Resident

Dr. Ashton Merati completed his Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering at the University of California, Irvine, with emphasis on photomedicine in 2010. He received his Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree from Roseman University of Health Sciences, Utah, in 2017. He then received his Master of Science (MS) degree and specialty certificate in Periodontology from the University of Maryland in 2020. His passion for dentistry, academia, and research, motivated him to pursue Advanced Education in Prosthodontics at University of Minnesota. His previous research area focused on functional chewing gum and bacterial associated gingival inflammation, crystallization of icosahedral viruses, and effect of pesticides on butterflies. His research interests include dental biomaterials, tissue-engineering, and periodontology. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking and nature.

Tyson Merrill, DMD
1st Year Resident

Dr. Tyson Merrill is from Calgary, Alberta, and he has travelled the world to complete his dental training. He attended dental school at the University of Melbourne in Australia. He first discovered his affinity for restorative dentistry while shadowing a dentist who performed many oral rehabilitations. His desire to complete his specialty training in prosthodontics was then solidified after observing a prosthodontist and learning more about the highly engaging field of prosthodontics. While in dental school he was involved in research regarding the accuracy of CAD/CAM restorations, his work has since been published in the European Journal of Prosthodontics and Restorative Dentistry. Dr. Merrill enjoys snowboarding, cars, camping and spending time with his family. He looks forward to returning to Alberta to practice as a Prosthodontist and making new memories with his family after graduating.

Rakesh Potu, BDS
1st Year Resident

Dr. Rakesh Potu was born and raised in India. He earned his Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) degree from Bharath University (BIHER) in 2009. After graduation, he worked as a general dentist in private practice for over 6 years. His passion for esthetic dentistry led to his travel to the United States. He completed his two-year fellowship course (Advanced Education in Esthetic Dentistry) from New York University, where he was extensively trained in smile design and full-mouth adhesive rehabilitation. During this fellowship, he developed an interest in prosthodontics that brought him to University of Minnesota for the Advanced Education Program in Prosthodontics. Dr. Potu is keen to enhance his skills in removable prosthesis and implant dentistry. Upon completion of this master’s program, he plans to work in private practice and as part-time faculty. In his spare time, Dr. Potu loves spending time with his family, hosting friends and exploring new cuisines.

Staff

Yvonne Christensen
Executive Office and Administrative Assistant

Yvonne grew up in the small tourist town of Osakis, MN. After graduating high school, she attended Red Wing/Winona Technical College in the Professional Nanny program. She worked as a nanny for a few years around the Twin Cities area before moving back to Osakis where she worked in the Dementia Care Assisted Living facility. After a few years up there and a couple of years working in a group home in Golden Valley, Yvonne found her way to the U of M School of Dentistry in April, 2012. She first learned the ropes in dispensing and after over 4 years there, she transferred to Graduate Prosthodontics as the program secretary. In her spare time, Yvonne likes to fish, camp, travel, participate in a bowling league and a volleyball league, and she played football for the Minnesota Vixen from the 2010 season through the 2015 season.

Emma Liljedahl, CDA, LDA
Dental Assistant

Born and raised in Minnesota, Emma graduated from Herzing University in August 2014. She completed the first rotation of her internship at the University of Minnesota in the predoctoral Prosthodontic Clinic. Emma enjoys prosthodontics because of the diversity of assisting duties and the opportunity to help patients and residents alike. After she received her license in October of 2014, she applied to the U of M Graduate Prosthodontic Clinic and has been employed since November 2014. Emma currently resides in the north metro and she enjoys fishing, camping, softball, and snowboarding in her spare time.

Delores Caldwell
Patient Care Coordinator

Delores joined the Graduate Prosthodontic Team in 2017 and brings with her a wealth of customer service expertise. She spent several years in the School Of Dentistry's face paced, highly demanding “walk in” Oral Surgery Clinic where she supervised the front desk operations as well as coordinated faculty, resident and student schedules, and patient appointments. A strong patient advocate, her goal is to facilitate smooth and timely communication between patients and their providers to help ensure an all-around positive experience for all parties involved. When not at work, you can usually find Delores taking classes, gardening, reading, as well as biking and playing the African Djembe drums with her daughter.

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