Second-year dental students Frank Boksa and Mary Young have been awarded NIH Summer Dental Student Research Awards to conduct research at the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research in Maryland.
While there, both awardees will be matched with a mentor in the student’s area of interest, who will work with the student on a research project for at least eight weeks. Students will receive a stipend during their time in Bethesda, MD. The goal of the program is to give talented dental students hands-on research experience that can result in a research presentation of findings or co-authorship of scientific publications.
Dean of Students Sherry Timmons expressed her congratulations and said, “Our college has had a long history of supporting research and the Student Research Group has been an essential component of those efforts. It is great to see student researchers pursuing their passion and having an opportunity to work with wonderful mentors.”
As part of the student research program, Boksa is mentored by Sukirth Ganesan, assistant professor and director of the graduate program in Periodontics, and his research has focused on how disease, specifically SARS-nCOV2 infections—the virus that causes COVID-19, affects the oral microbiome and its function.
Young is mentored by Azeez Butali, professor in the Department of Oral Pathology, Radiology, and Medicine, and her research has focused on population studies in Africa of cleft lip and palate.
“This is true honor; Mary Young and Frank Boksa's selection is a testament to their hard work and the excellent mentorship of Azeez Butali and Sukirth Ganesan,” said Teresa Marshall, co-director of the Dental Student Research Program and the Finkelstein Centennial Professor of Teaching.
Both mentors, Butali and Ganesan, expressed confidence that Young and Boksa would be “great ambassadors” for the college, and they spoke highly of Iowa’s student research program, calling it one of the best in the country.