Students present at national research forum

Students Luke Current, Kayla Strickland, James Parker Jr., Danish Hasan, and Tashana Detwiler, presented original research at this year’s annual American Association of Dental Research (AADR) meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, March 21-24.

Dr. Ramiro Murata, James Parker, Jr., and Danish Hasan

Dr. Ramiro Murata, James Parker, Jr., and Danish Hasan

The AADR advances research and assists in the spread of research findings through national conferences among leading researchers. The meeting is a platform for students world-wide to exhibit their findings on posters, network, collaborate, and discover.

Third-year dental student Luke Current presented “Influence of Physical Activity During Pregnancy and Child Oral Health.” He also participated in the Student Competition for Advancing Dental Research and its Application (SCADA), which invites one dental student from each U.S. dental school to present.

With the aid of ECU faculty mentors Dr. Christopher Cotterill, division director of pediatric dentistry, and Dr. Linda May, assistant professor of anatomy, Luke’s study asserts positive physiological link between women exercising during pregnancy and child dental maturity.

Luke Current

Luke Current

Luke hopes to continue his research while at ECU and during residency after graduation. “We plan to continue our project by expanding the numbers of participants and also looking at some different variables. The nice thing about my project is it’s centered around a pediatric population, and that’s where I want to specialize in dentistry.”

First-year dental student Kayla Strickland studied “Geofencing: Mobile Technology as a Health Promotion Tool to Raise Awareness of a Dental Clinic in Rural North Carolina,” with Dr. Wanda Wright, division director of dental public health. Kayla found that geofencing, a technology that defines a virtual boundary, has the ability to increase awareness of health care services in order to encourage more patients to receive care.

Kayla would also like to continue her research well into the future. Her current research includes the school’s community service learning center in Robinson County, North Carolina. “I think it would be fun to do the research at the other seven community service learning centers aross the state,” she said.

Kayla Strickland

Kayla Strickland

James Parker Jr., also a first-year dental student, presented “Antifungal Activity of Capric Acid Against Candida Albicans in Vitro,” his study with research mentor Dr. Ramiro Murata, assistant professor of foundational sciences.

While James would like to continue his research, and has plans to compete at a conference next year in Vancouver, he doesn’t yet know which direction his research will take. “I know Dr. Murata has further plans for the study. He would like to do a live study as well, just to see how the capric acid works. But I’m just getting into the research now, so all this is still new to me.”

First-year dental student Tashana Detwiler presented “Elevated Blood Pressure Among Emergency Dental Patients: A Descriptive Study.” Tashana’s research mentor, Dr. Kimberley Gise, directs the school’s Emergency Clinic.

Danish Hasan, an ECU undergraduate biology major, presented “Antifungal Properties of Berberine on Various Species of Candida in Vitro.” Danish is also mentored by Dr. Ramiro Murata.

“The [AADR] meeting was just so exciting that I would love to go to another meeting, so if I don’t continue with my current project, I would love to look into other research projects,” said Tashana.

Tashana Detwiler

Tashana Detwiler

James Parker said the meeting was a great opportunity to broaden his horizon and “to see all the different studies that are being done, and just talking with people and seeing how they think and just understanding the basis of it and how much there is to know and learn as I continue in dentistry.”

Luke Current added, “I think the coolest thing is that this conference has a significant student presence, and it’s just great to meet future collaborators you can work with from all over the place.”

Dr. Sharon Gordon, the school’s associate dean for research, summed up the conference by saying, “The ECU School of Dental Medicine is growing its national research footprint as evidenced by the largest number of students to date presenting research. The school’s leadership is to be commended for supporting the research interests of tomorrow’s dentists.”

Story by Christine Evangelista