2022 School of Dentistry Summer Research Program closes out largest year ever

This year, 41 students took part in the opportunity to actively participate in research and learn from experienced research faculty from the University of Louisville.
2022 School of Dentistry Summer Research Program closes out largest year ever

DMD student Jeanju Lee discusses her research project with a faculty member at Research!Louisville.

This year was the largest ever for the UofL School of Dentistry’s Summer Research Program, with 41 students participating. The program offers the opportunity for qualified students in the school’s DMD program and Master of Science in Oral Biology program to work with faculty mentors to conduct research in basic science and clinical science.  

On September 19, 2022, program participants showcased their work at the annual Research!Louisville event at the UofL Health Sciences Center campus.

Rachel Scaglione from the DMD class of 2025 collaborated with fellow students Nooreddin Almoutem and Rieser Wells, as well as faculty from the dental school’s department of radiology, to study the use of artificial intelligence software in dental imaging. Their research compared the accuracy of a machine learning program and trained human observers in detecting dental caries (cavities) on X-ray images.

Scaglione says this technology has the potential to help dentists deliver better, more patient-centered care. “When a dentist looks at so many radiographs a day, we get eye fatigue. All the gray values you see on the image can start running together and merge. Artificial intelligence … doesn't suffer from eye fatigue.”

Payton Lofton from the DMD class of 2024 also performed research on dental technology, focusing on systems that can be used to capture three-dimensional images of a patient’s face. Lofton compared technology that captures dynamic versus static images.

Lofton says doing her own research will make her a better dentist in the future. “Doing research has taught me a lot about how the research process works and how to read research effectively,” she says. “When I am practicing and I am making evidence-based decisions on what dental materials to use or what software I should get, I would be able to look at the research and decide which one would be best.”


Amira Watson from the DMD class of 2025 focused her research on dental education itself. She created a survey to assess whether students’ prior experiences with death, dying, and grief might affect their comfort level working with anatomical donors during anatomy lab classes, as well as their ability to handle death and dying with professionalism when they are in practice. “On average, the general practitioner is going to lose about eight patients per year in dentistry,” she says. “We think that the dentist only works in the oral cavity, but these issues expand far beyond that.”

Watson says her personal experiences stimulated an interest in this research topic. As she and her classmates started working with anatomical donors in their first year of dental school, she thought about her background compared to her classmates’ background – not just in terms of whether they had worked with anatomical donors, but also whether they had experienced a personal loss. “In 2020, my mother passed away. Just recently, in June, my father passed away… I had the tools that I needed, but I know that not everyone has the tools that they need to deal with these types of issues.” 

Dr. Michael Metz, chair of the School of Dentistry’s department of Comprehensive Dentistry, served as a mentor for the Summer Research Program and also helped judge the poster competition. He says being involved in research is a critical part of the educational process. “Being involved in Research!Louisville helps students understand the importance of evidence-based dentistry and how research can improve treatment outcomes on patients.”

Research!Louisville 2022 dental student award winners

 Basic Sciences: 

  • First Place: Alec McDonald; Carly Warden; Jinlian Tan; Jill Steinbach-Rankins; Marsha Cole; Sudha Gudhimella - A Novel, Nitric Oxide-Releasing Elastomeric Chain for Antimicrobial Action 
  • Second Place: Amanda Dilliha; Jinlian Tan; Alec McDonald; Sudha Gudhimella - A Novel Antimicrobial Orthodontic Clear Aligners: A Pilot Study 
  • Third Place: HeeJue Hong; Jinlian Tan; Gwyneth Lamont; David Scott - The transcriptomic response to CBD of Treponema denticola, a phytocannabinoid-resistant periodontal pathogen 

 Clinical Sciences: 

  • First Place: Cameron Chugg; Michael Metz - Effects of Active Engagement and Spaced Retrieval Practice on Knowledge and Application of a Self-Assessment Rubric: A Phase 2, 12-month Follow-up 
  • Second Place: Rachel Scaglione; Nooreddin Almoutem; Rieser Wells; Kathleen Fischer; Michael Sekula; Christiano Oliveira-Santos; William Scarfe; Danieli Moura Brasil; Gustavo Machado Santaella - Effect of kilovoltage on the performance of AI and observers in detecting non-cavitated proximal dental caries on bitewing radiographs 
  • Third Place: Courtney Knabel; Holly House; Kristin Kasimati; Michael Sekula; Christiano de Oliveira Santos; Gustavo Santaella; Danieli Brasil; William Scarfe; Kathleen Fischer; David Brock - Analysis of Posterior Composite Restorations Utilizing Bitewings: An In Vitro Study 

September 27, 2022