Q&A with 2022 Century Club Professor of the Year Paul Jardine, BSc, DUT, PhD

Headshot of Paul Jardine on a branded background

Paul Jardine, BSc, DUT, PhD, was elected the 2022 Century Club Professor of the Year, announced Dean Keith Mays, DDS, MS, PhD at the 2023 Research Day.

Instituted by Dean Erwin Schaffer, DDS, MS, the Century Club Professor of the Year is one of the school’s greatest traditions, and the highest honor bestowed upon a faculty member. Each year, the honoree is selected by a committee chaired by the previous year’s award recipient, with broad faculty representation from each School of Dentistry department as well as student participants from graduate, dental, dental therapy and dental hygiene programs.

Jardine is a professor in the Division of Basic Sciences, where he studies virus structure and assembly and teaches microbiology. He excels at interdisciplinary teaching and research, making great strides as part of a team that brings together the fields of virology, biochemistry, genetics, structural biology and biophysics. Well respected by students and faculty members alike, the award committee said “Not only is Dr. Jardine a distinguished researcher—he is student-centered and well-received by students. A tremendous example.”

Jardine also dedicates himself to service to the school in the areas of governance, advancing health and committee work. “As a committee member, Jardine has been a staunch advocate for students and student-centered learning,” reflected Dean Keith Mays, DDS, MS, PhD, in
his announcement of the award. “Whether serving in an official capacity as leader of faculty, or simply as himself, Dr. Jardine always helps us see the faculty perspective, and the impact that any decision might have on faculty.”

We heard from Jardine on what receiving this award means to him.

Paul Jardine lecturing

What does it mean to you to be named Professor of the Year?

Above all else, to be recognized by the school as having made a positive contribution to our research, training and service missions is a high honor. These are the people I work for and with, and to be seen by them as deserving such merit is a humbling experience.

As you reflect on your contributions to dental education and research, which aspects have you most enjoyed?

On occasion, I will meet a former student and they recount how they encountered, in practice, an issue that was informed by my teaching. To learn that your work has had a positive impact on these people, that you have contributed to the development of their professional skills, and that they are applying these skills in service to our community is possibly the greatest reward one can ask for in academia.

What is your favorite thing about being a professor?

The people. I get to work with students whose intelligence and professional dedication is of the highest caliber. I get to work with committed faculty and staff to continuously try to improve our environment and better meet our responsibilities to the communities we serve. And I get to work with other researchers, allowing my small set of skills to be amplified through research collaboration, enabling us to tackle challenging scientific questions and make new discoveries, some of which have been truly wondrous.

What words of wisdom would you pass along to those in dental research or considering dental research?

Research is not just a serious responsibility, but also a great privilege. To be afforded the opportunity to explore the world around us and, with some luck, gain new insights into how things work and see this new knowledge applied so that it can improve the lives of others, is unlike any other professional experience. It is critical. It is frustrating. It is deeply fulfilling. And its effects will last long into the future.

Read the announcement of Century Club Professor of the Year.

This story originally appeared in the 2023 edition of Dentistry Magazine.