1) Your name, program, mentor name.
2) When did you realize you were passionate about science?
I have been interested in science for as long as I can remember. Let’s face it, science is the coolest class in school growing up! It wasn’t until college, however, that I realized what I actually wanted to do with my passion. It was during my time at The University of Georgia that I began working as an assistant in a pediatric dental office, and commenced my first research project with a group that studies heme biosynthesis and porphyria. I clearly enjoyed both experiences immensely, as they led me to where I am today.
3) Please tell me about yourself, why did you pick The University of Texas Health Science Center, and your program.
I recently graduated from the UT School of Dentistry, Houston in 2015. I then chose to pursue a residency in pediatric dentistry here at UT Health San Antonio. Pediatric dentistry has been my ultimate goal for several years, as it permits me to make a meaningful impact on the community whilst also nurturing my interest in health sciences. More importantly, pediatric dentistry is fun! I was blessed to be given the opportunity to study here in San Antonio, as I believe the program is one of the best in the nation.
4) Tell me about your research. Why are you passionate about your research topic? How did you first become interested in it?
My masters research concerns esthetic dental restorative materials, and it focuses closely on the promised benefits of a relatively new material. More specifically, it reviews initial fluoride release, material recharging, and fluoride re-release. I was interested in this topic for its obvious clinical impacts. A restorative material which can continue to release fluoride long after its placement can benefit a patient and practitioner greatly by reducing the occurrence of secondary caries.
5) What do you want the public to know about your research? Why is your topic important?
I think it is important for the public to know that there are many different restorative materials available, and that these are constantly being studied and improved upon in order to provide them with the greatest benefit possible. In addition, I’d like the public to understand the genuine benefits of fluoride, as it vastly reduces initial caries occurrence as well as reoccurrence around already existing restorations. There will always be sensationalized stories about fluoride, suggesting that it should be removed from public water sources or toothpastes, and I’d like the public to be educated enough to recognize that such false claims should be disregarded.
6) What was your best memory during graduate school or what did you learn?
I have made so many wonderful memories during my time here at UT Health San Antonio. All of them are centered around the incredible friends I have made; my pediatric co-residents are the absolute best! Some of my favorite memories will include our frequent brunches, our hilarious Halloween onesies, singing karaoke in the car, and a summer trip to float the Comal River. In addition to having fun, I have also learned a great deal from my co-residents. Their support and their success has encouraged me to be better in many ways.
7) What do you like to do outside of graduate school?
When I’m not spending time with family or friends, I can often be found chilling at home with my two cats. I enjoy swimming, reading, listening to music, and catching up on the latest shows or movies. I am also quite passionate about the outdoors. I enjoy day hikes, kayaking and sailing. I spend a lot of time day-dreaming about travel, and I am looking forward to being able to pursue that more after graduation.
8) What’s next?
Following graduation, I plan to work as an associate in a private pediatric dental office. I am greatly looking forward to serving the community and to providing high quality dentistry to kids in need. I am so fortunate to be able to do something that I feel passionate about, and to be able to have fun doing it at the same time!