Summer Research Program engages dental students in the process of discovery

Participants praise the program for helping them apply knowledge and grow as dental professionals
Summer Research Program engages dental students in the process of discovery

Dental student Arjun Patel describes his research project to competition judges at Research!Louisville 2023.

The University of Louisville School of Dentistry (ULSD) Summer Research Program continued to grow in 2023. The program offered the opportunity for about 60 qualified students in the school’s DMD program, Postgraduate/Residency programs, and Master of Science in Oral Biology program to work with faculty mentors to conduct research in basic science, clinical science, and behavioral science.  

Second-year dental student Arjun Patel took part in the program over the summer of 2023 and enjoyed the experience for several reasons. “You learn a lot and, depending on what research you do, you get to connect your research with what you do in class,” he said.   

Patel’s work was part of the basic science category. He researched effects of cannabidiol (CBD) – an active ingredient in cannabis that is derived from the hemp plant – on the oral microbiome. He chose to study CBD because it is a hot topic in dentistry today. “There is a high prevalence of marijuana users, especially with states legalizing marijuana,” Patel said. “As dental professionals, we need to be prepared to see cases where marijuana users are recreational or medicinal users.”

Third-year dental student Oriana Yepez Contreras conducted research in behavioral science. She studied stress coping strategies applied by dental students from across the country.  Yepez Contreras said she chose this topic because of her own experience as a dental student. “I understand the stress that comes with studying and I wanted to know if the coping strategies applied were similar among students across the country and if, in fact, the type of stress coping strategy would have a positive effect,” she said. “Part of my intention was to draw attention to the well-being and mental health of students, who as health professionals should also be healthy.”

Like Patel, Yepez Contreras would recommend the Summer Research Program to dental students who follow in her footsteps. “You learn many things, plus it opens you to the possibility that in the future you can continue doing research,” she said. She added that doing research also prepares students for “facing new challenges that make you grow as a professional and clinician.”

The Summer Research Program culminated with a poster presentation during the annual Research!Louisville event October 2-6, 2023. This year there were 64 presentations from ULSD students whose works included the involvement of 39 faculty mentors.

The following School of Dentistry participants received awards during the Research!Louisville awards ceremony:

Postdoctoral Associate/Scholar

1st Place
Kendall Stocke
pABA and one-carbon metabolism modulates the virulence of the human periodontal pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis. 
Mentor: R. Lamont 

Dental Student Basic Sciences Research Awards

1st Place
Arjun Patel
Cannabidiol (CBD) differentially influences the growth of various oral bacteria.
Mentor: D. Scott 

2nd Place
Jacob Spencer
Peptoids as a Novel Therapy for Early Childhood Caries. 
Mentor: G. Diamond 

3rd Place
Amanda Dilliha
Antimicrobial Properties of SNAP Impregnated Power Chains in an Oral Simulated Environment.
Mentor: S. Gudhimella  

Dental Student Clinical Sciences Research Awards

1st Place
Dylan Pope
Diagnostic Performance of Class II Overhangs using Synthetic 3D Tomosynthesis vs Standard Bitewing Radiography. 
Mentor: K. Fischer 

2nd Place
Rachael Scaglione
Influence of combined radiation, sterilization, and disinfection on surface roughness for surgical resin 3D printed tongue depressors.
Mentors: G. Santaella, W. Scarfe, C. Oliveira-Santos 

3rd Place
Tyler Magill 
Accuracy of an AI CVM staging classifier model between different skeletal/sagittal characteristics. 
Mentors: Toru Deguchi, Sudha Gudhimella 

Read more about Research!Louisville from UofL Today:

October 18, 2023