MinnCResT symposium celebrates trainees and summer researchers

Flavia Saavedra presents her research at the MinnCResT symposium

The Minnesota Craniofacial Research Training (MinnCResT) program held its annual symposium on Thursday, August 18th, celebrating a summer of successful research for PhD candidates, post-doctoral fellows and summer research students.

The symposium dates back to 2011 and celebrates trainees, allowing them to showcase their research each year to an audience of interested School of Dentistry community members.

Paul Jardine speaks at the podium

Paul Jardine, PhD, professor in the Division of Basic Sciences, welcomed attendees and reflected on the power and responsibility of research.

“What a fantastic and delightful opportunity we have every day, to do science,” he said. “We get to chase after interesting questions. You get to be the first one to see that data, interpret it, and think about a question in the exact same way you are. It’s rare to have that kind of opportunity.”

“And along with that,” he said, “we have a great responsibility. But as long as you enjoy the work, and ask questions that drive your curiosity, it’s a fantastic opportunity. And to share it with a group of excited colleagues, that’s pretty special.”

Julie Olson, PhD, director of graduate studies in oral biology and of the Summer Research Fellowship Program, thanked this year’s nine summer research students, including three who presented at the symposium.

“I hope you all got a taste for research and will continue to engage with it throughout your dental education,” she said. “We’re always happy to see you on the research floors.”

Researchers had an opportunity to present on their research in the 3-Minute Thesis format, originally created in New Zealand to foster research communication. Participants had three minutes and one slide to discuss the topic of their dissertation, competing for an attendee-awarded first-place prize.

The MinnCResT fellows in attendance were:

  • Kristina Astleford-Hopper: Targeting epigenetic factors to prevent osteoclast-induced bone loss
  • Edward Daisey: De- and re-mineralization of enamel
  • Nick Fischer: Supra-molecular chemistry 
  • Rachel Phillips: Osteoclast variability from mandible and femur derived bone marrow cells
  • Flavia Saavedra: Chronic periodontitis
  • Petra Vande Zande: Fungal infections in Candida albicans in the mouth cavity
  • Nora Willkomm: Protemic analysis of Human T-Cell Leukemia virus type 1 particles

Three student summer researchers also presented on their summer projects:

  • David DeJong: Do pioneer colonizers drive community specialization? Investigating streptococcus gordonii adhesions in supragingival plaque models
  • Cecilia Lovinger: How can dental treatment reduce the morbidity and mortality rates of effective endocarditis? 
  • Stanislas Ogokeh: Modulation of Osteoclast differentiation by lipopolysaccharide

After successful presentations by all participants, prizes were awarded to Nora Wilkomm and Cecilia Lovinger for their excellence in research and presentation.

Nora Wilkomm and Cecilia Lovinger pose with their prizes

Learn more about MinnCResT and the student summer research program.