From understanding the developing human tongue to addressing the challenges facing children with autism, innovative research was on full display on Feb. 20 at the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC’s annual Research Day.
The event celebrated the scientific work of students and faculty from the Ostrow School, as well as the divisions of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy and Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. More than 120 researchers, ranging from undergraduate students to postdoctoral fellows and faculty, shared their work in poster presentations, which were judged by a team of Ostrow School faculty.
Elizabeth Garrett, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, gave welcoming remarks, noting that the Ostrow Research Day event is unique among USC schools. She also highlighted how the school’s research activity and output are disproportionately large compared to its size.
Ostrow School Dean Avishai Sadan lauded the scientific success of the school’s faculty members, as well as the importance of student research.
“Not only am I proud of the scientific success [that] our faculty members have achieved, but it’s also exciting to see the very high level of Ostrow student involvement in research,” he said. “Taking part in research enriches a student’s education in a way no other activity can.”
Yang Chai, the school’s associate dean of research, said strength in research and innovation will become more crucial than ever to compete in the global environment. He also urged his fellow faculty members to open up their research projects to more students looking for experience.
“We all started from somewhere without much experience,” Chai said. “Someone provided us mentorship.”
Following the judging, participants and guests enjoyed two keynote scientific lectures. Christopher Fox, executive director of the International and American Associations for Dental Research, spoke of the importance of increasing research and advocacy to solve dramatic dental health disparities in the United States.
Cheryl Mattingly, professor in the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, as well as the Department of Anthropology at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, discussed the narrative techniques that doctors and therapists use to communicate with patients about their illnesses, illustrating her points with stories about her patients.
Ronald Chung and Peter Lee took home first place for the best clinical sciences project by a doctoral dental student. Their project examined how certain concentrations of bisphosphonate drugs — medicines used to treat osteoporosis that can accumulate and stay in the body — correlate with the death of jawbone tissue.
“Research adds another dimension to my dental school education,” said Chung, who is a member of the school’s Student Research Group and editor in chief of the group’s award-winning annual magazine, The Explorer.
William Lee, Melissa Olmedo and Kristine Parungao, members of the Dental Hygiene Class of 2013, presented their research on the benefits and risks of electronic cigarettes. Olmedo said understanding current science is key to staying on top of new patient care options.
“Patients have lots of questions,” she said. “We can give them evidence-based information.”
This year’s Ostrow Research Day awardees:
Advanced Specialty Program Resident
First place: Steven Lim
Second place: Chloe Cohen
Graduate Postdoctoral Trainee
First place: Junichi Iwata
Second place: Qichao Ruan
Graduate Pre-Doctoral Candidate
First place: Chider Chen
Second place: Cunye Qu
Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy Student
First place: Leah Stein
Second place: Leah Stein
Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy Student
Neural control and motor behavior
First place: Ya-Yun Lee
Second place: Jay Porterfield
Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy
First place: Hsiang-Ling Teng
Second place: Mark Blanchette
Undergraduate DDS Student — Basic Sciences
First place: Kenneth Smith
Second place: Hamid Barkhordar and Pooyan Nasibi
Undergraduate DDS Student — Clinical Sciences
First place: Peter Lee and Ronald Chung
Second place: Omid Hemmat
USC Stevens Institute for Innovation Most Innovative Award
First place: Chloe Cohen
Second place: Sahar Ansari