USC University of Southern California

Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC

CCMB Researcher to Receive 2009 SCADA Faculty Advisor Award

In her 30 years as a faculty member, Margarita Zeichner-David has regularly gone above and beyond to mentor students, helping them develop their knowledge and love of scientific research.

“I just can’t say ‘no’ when a student asks me about doing research,” said Zeichner-David , USC School of Dentistry research professor. “The students are really fantastic, and as long as I can do so I will always try to host students in my lab.”

Zeichner-David is the winner of the 2009 Faculty Advisor Award, bestowed annually by the International Association of Student Clinicians of the American Dental Association (SCADA). She will receive the award in October 2009 at the American Dental Association Scientific Session in Honolulu.

Her laboratory at the Center for Craniofacial Molecular Biology has hosted hundreds of student researchers over the years ranging from high school students in the Science, Technology and Research (STAR) program and undergraduates conducting directed research to the dental students and residents looking to enrich their chair-side education with experience at the benchtop. Many of the students she’s mentored have published their research in scientific journals and have presented their work at national conferences, said former School of Dentistry dean Harold Slavkin, who nominated Zeichner-David for the honor.

“Maggie has been a true inspiration to not only dental students but also our graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty,” Slavkin said.  “She exemplifies the best qualities of a mentor, coach and leader.”

Trishia Contreras, now a first-year USC dental student, first conducted research in Zeichner-David’s lab as part of her undergraduate studies in health promotion and disease prevention. Her work with periodontal ligament regeneration taught her a lot as she prepared to go to dental school, she said.

“Research gives you more of an appreciation for the profession; you get to see how advances in the field occur,” Contreras said. “It expands your knowledge and enhances learning.”

She said that she was very thankful for the opportunity to work with Zeichner-David and that she hoped to conduct more research as she pursues her DDS degree.

“It’s been a really good experience working with her,” Contreras said. “She’s a really encouraging professor and is always willing to help students.”