USC University of Southern California

Showcasing Science

Students of the Ostrow School of Dentistry presented research projects, enjoyed an afternoon of keynote speakers and received awards as part of 2011’s annual Research Day on February 16.

This year’s Research Day, the largest student-centered research event at USC, included over 100 posters for research projects helmed by undergraduates, graduate and professional students, and residents from the Ostrow School of Dentistry and the Divisions of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy and Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy.

“This event provides an intimate setting for researchers, both students and faculty, to interact with one another,” said Yang Chai, Ostrow School of Dentistry Associate Dean of Research, in his opening remarks. He encouraged everyone to use the event to spark new ideas and collaboration.

“The Ostrow School of Dentistry is one of our most potent weapons with regard to the life sciences,” said Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Elizabeth Garrett, who gave a welcoming address during the event. “This school plays an important role in propelling this university to further greatness.”

Students from all programs spoke about the importance of conducting research while in school.

“Getting involved in research broadens our knowledge beyond what we’re taught in the classroom,” said McKalee Conrad, DH ’11. She and fellow Dental Hygiene classmates Joan Beleno, Amanda Olvera, and Samantha Naumann presented a project that investigated the oral health effects of fertility treatment in women.

Chandler Ho, DDS ‘12, said getting involved in research has been a great experience that he plans to keep with him long after he completes school and starts practicing on his own.

“Even if I’m not conducting research myself in the future, this experience will help me to keep up with research and take the initiative to find new information for patients,” Ho said. “Dentistry is all about lifelong learning.”

Several students also spoke about research from another perspective – that of the practicing clinician who returns to academic investigation.

Szu Ping Lee, a Ph.D. candidate in Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy, said he had practiced clinical physical therapy for more than three years before coming back to get his doctorate.

“Both experiences are very important,” Lee said. “Good research starts with a good question, and for that it helps to know what real patients’ problems are. It helps you know that your research will help patients down the road.”
Leah Stein, a Ph.D. candidate in Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, also spent time in clinical practice before returning to school. Her experiences with children with autism and other related disorders helped give her a practical perspective on her research, which looked at the difficulties faced by children with sensory sensitivity when receiving dental care.

“I feel I have a different knowledge base,” Stein said. “When practicing, I noticed where the gaps in the research were.”

Ostrow School of Dentistry Dean Avishai Sadan, who gave welcoming remarks before touring the poster presentation and speaking with students, said that the School’s student research achievement was a testament to both the talent and creativity of Ostrow students and the valuable guidance of the School’s faculty members.

“We are incredibly proud of the Ostrow School of Dentistry students who take their education beyond the classroom as well as our faculty members who provide priceless mentorship every step of the way,” Sadan said. “Participating in research is one of the most eye-opening experiences that students can have during their academic careers.”

2011 Ostrow School of Dentistry Research Day Awards

Dean’s Award – Khine Htet

Advanced Specialty Program Resident
1st Place – George Abichaker
2nd Place – Theresia Laksmana

Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy – Exercise Musculoskeletal Biomechanics
1st Place – Jo Armour Smith
2nd Place – Shawn Sorenson

Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy – Neural Control and Motor Behavior
1st Place – Shuya Chen
2nd Place – Sudarshan Dayanidhi

Graduate Post-Doctoral Trainee
1st Place – Keith Bromley
2nd Place- Junichi Iwata

Graduate Pre-Doctoral Candidate
1st Place- Alice Yang
2nd Place – Chider Chen

Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
1st Place – Sook-Lei Liew
2nd Place – Leah Stein

Doctor of Dental Surgery – Basic Science
1st Place – Alexander Nguyen
2nd Place – Andrew Nguyen

Doctor of Dental Surgery – Clinical Science
1st Place – Sandeep Potdar
2nd Place – Michael Silva

USC Stevens Institute for Innovation – Most Innovative
1st Place – Marcelo Freire
2nd Place – Michael Silva