Office of Communications
2 East South Street
Galesburg, IL 61401
Director, Facial Nerve Institute at St. Louis Children’s Hospital
Major in Biology
What do you do now?
The majority of my practice is pediatric plastic surgery, although I also perform some general reconstructive surgery in adults as well. My area of interest is facial paralysis, specifically, animating or re-animating the paralyzed face, but I also see a lot of children with congenital anomalies (such as cleft lip and palate), traumatic injuries, and cancer. I also do basic science research that compliments my clinical interests.
How did your Knox experiences (in and out of the classroom) help lead you on this path?
Knox is a classroom without walls, and the journey is tremendous. I gained many skills that helped my professional development, such as how to ask a question and then properly answer it, but I also learned that there is no single path to achieving a goal. I also learned to be honest with myself about what I am most interested in. The best recipe for success starts with passion. It is difficult to contain passionate and creative minds who engage their interests. Helping students find and pursue their interests is the epitome of the Knox experience.
Can you explain why you find this work so appealing?
Facial paralysis causes many functional problems, but the biggest difficulty is often the psychosocial burden associated with the absence of facial expression. Facial expression is essential to communication and to self-perception. Helping people regain confidence is priceless, and there is nothing like seeing a child smile again or perhaps for the first time. I am also enamored by the intricacy and fine details of the surgeries. I also am inspired by the patients, especially the children, that I work with. So many of them handle adversity and obstacles with grace and a refreshingly optimistic attitude. I learn from my patients all the time.