Pathways - Team

Tracy de Peralta, D.M.D., Ph.D., MClinEd
Pathways Program Director

Dr. de Peralta earned her D.M.D. from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in 1995. She completed her PhD in Oral Biology at the University of Duesseldorf, Germany in 2004. She earned a Masters in Clinical Education from the University of Plymouth in the UK in 2013. While in the UK Dr. de Peralta also served as the Associate Director of Clinical Dentistry, having an active role in development of a new dental school curriculum at the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry.

Currently Dr. de Peralta works to integrate the University of Michigan’s novel Pathways Program within the pre-doctoral clinical curriculum, promoting and developing student professional identity and assisting in their clinical competency development. She provides leadership to the Pathways Team for the mission of development and sustainability of this program and ensures its visibility within the greater academic community.

Domenica Sweier, DDS, PhD
Selective Pathway Director

Dr. Sweier earned her DDS and PhD from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. She is an alumna of the American Dental Education Association’s Leadership Institute, and the recently formed Rudi Ansbacher Women in Academic Medicine Leadership Scholars Program at the University of Michigan Medical School. Currently, she is a scholar of the Patient Safety and Quality Leadership Scholars Program at the University of Michigan Medical School.

Dr. Sweier helps foster leadership skills and development in junior faculty, staff, and dental students through formal and informal ways within the department, the school, and the curriculum via the Pathways Program. She maintains active mentoring of dental students as they develop and implement their capstone projects, while directing the Selective Pathway which facilitates student choice in dental education.

Daniel Chiego Jr., MS, PhD
Immersion Pathway Director

Dr. Daniel J. Chiego, Jr. earned his M.S. and Ph.D. (Basic Medical Science) from New York University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. After joining the University of Michigan School of Dentistry in 1976 as a post-doctoral scholar, he has enjoyed a long and fruitful career doing research, teaching and serving on many different committees.

Dr. Chiego’s research interests are the role of nerves in maintenance and repair of mineralized tissues including osteoblasts/cytes of bone and odontoblasts in the dental pulp. He is involved with innervation of the pulp. This is of particular interest because of the variety of its roles in development, growth, pain, inflammation/immunity and repair. Pain and the response to injury are of considerable clinical interest for understanding pulpal injury and improvements in pulpal repair may offer a simpler and less expensive option than either root canal therapy or tooth extraction. He is also involved in comparing the temporal sequence of gene expression (inflammatory mediators and growth factors) found in periapical granulomas and cysts using gene arrays, histopathology and digital radiography which will progress to an animal study to resolve these lesions using nanotechnology. Dr. Chiego also studies central mechanisms of salivation and how specific autonomic nerves innervating the nucleus of the solitary tract and the inferior salivatory nucleus interact within the brainstem.

Dr. Chiego collaborates with several investigators at Wayne State Medical School to study the unfolded protein response and E.R. stress in head and neck cancer to determine expression of several genes associated with primary squamous carcinoma in humans.

Dr. Chiego has been involved in student research for his whole career. He directed the federally funded Student Research Program for 14 years and currently directs the Research Pathway (D3,4) and also the Immersion pathway (D1,2).

John Hamerink, DDS
Pathways Faculty

Dr John Hamerink is a faculty course director of multiple courses and electives in the Pathways Program. He supports both the Immersion and Selective Pathways.

Dr. Hamerink earned his B.S. in 2004 from the University of Michigan in the concentration of exercise physiology though the college of Kinesiology. Also, Dr. Hamerink completed a 2 year M.S. in basic medical sciences through the medical school at Wayne State University in 2006. He then graduated with his D.D.S. degree in 2010 from The University of Michigan School of Dentistry.

After graduating, Dr. Hamerink pursued his interests in education as a Clinical Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, as well as working in private practice. Furthermore, Dr. Hamerink worked for several years in the dental clinics of the Michigan Department of Corrections.

Dr. Hamerink currently dedicates his time teaching clinical dentistry to the dental students and to the Pathways Curriculum. In addition, he provides general comprehensive dental care to patients in his private practice, with a focus on evidence based dentistry.

Mark Pinsky, DDS
Pathways Faculty

Dr. Harold “Mark” Pinsky earned his B.S. and D.D.S from The Ohio State University. He subsequently completed a General Practice Residency at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, Pa. While in college he minored in Aviation. After completing his dental training, he pursued a dual track career, practicing as a dentist part time while flying professionally as a first officer and then captain at a New Jersey commuter airline before moving to a first officer position at a major airline. For many years he practiced general dentistry in Toledo, Ohio while also flying as a pilot. Dr. Pinsky is now known as Captain Pinsky, having earned his “fourth stripe” in 1996. Captain Pinsky is currently qualified as an International “Line Check Pilot” and instructor on the Airbus A-330 aircraft.

In 2005, Dr. Pinsky went back to school and earned a Post-Doctoral Scholar Certificate from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. In 2006 he became an Executive Committee Member of the Scholars Program in Dental Leadership, and in 2014 transitioned to the Pathways program as the Co-Director of the Leadership Pathway as well as a team member of the new Pathways Program.

Dr. Pinsky’s true passion lies in working with individual students, helping them reach goals that they never realized might be attainable. To date he has worked “one on one” with more than 60 students. In addition, Dr. Pinsky has published several research papers, including one on Dental Checklists based on his experience with both careers. He is also has been an invited speaker at dental conferences around the world based on his checklist expertise.

Dr. Pinsky is truly humbled and honored to have the privilege of being a part of “team” for the innovative and exciting Pathways Program at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry!

Charlene Erickson
Pathways Administration

Charlene Erickson earned her BA in Psychology from LaSalle University, and her M.Ed. in Psychoeducational Processes with a graduate certificate in Gerontology from Temple University, both in Philadelphia, PA.

She has an extensive background in adult education and training, non-profit development, program, volunteer and event coordination, and is passionate about helping people and organizations find a strong purpose in working together.

Within the Pathways program she supports program and faculty directors of this innovative independent curriculum program at the School of Dentistry. She coordinates program planning and development of student curricula, helped develop the program manual and training for faculty guides and mentors, assists in maintaining the online portfolio system, Canvas course sites and other building blocks of the program. She works to monitor student progress and advise on projects, remediation and graduation requirements and oversees project and budget management, reporting and tracking. A favorite task every year is to plan and execute the annual Pathways Day event.

Rebecca Flynn
Pathways Administration

Rebecca Flynn earned her BS degree in Neurobiology from Michigan State University (Go Green!). She joined the Academic Affairs staff at the University of Michigan, School of Dentistry a few years later. She has thoroughly enjoyed how her career has evolved within the department and feels fortunate to have experienced such a variety of roles at the School.

Currently, within the innovative Pathways curricular program, she supports the Program Director and other faculty directors, as well as the students. She coordinates the development of new elective courses for the Selectives Pathway from initial planning through student enrollment and course completion. She monitors student progress through the Selectives and advises on enrollment, course requirements, and program requirements. She also works with students in the Immersion Pathway overseeing project budget management, reporting and tracking. Seeing the student’s enthusiasm about having the ability to shape a piece of the curriculum to fit their own professional identity is exciting and rewarding!