Frequently Asked Questions

about SDM Research…

for students, newer researchers, more experienced researchers, companies, and the public.

If you don’t find your Question/Answer here, please contact

Dr. Anne Meyer – Associate Dean for Research, School of Dental Medicine

aemeyer@buffalo.edu     phone:  716-829-6244

Students (pre-DDS, graduate, clinical post-graduate)

How do I find a research mentor?  There are several ways to find a research mentor in UB’s School of Dental Medicine.  For example, you could begin the search by talking with the instructor of a course that you enjoy and that includes topics that may be of interest to you for a research project.  We also recommend that you identify potential research mentors by looking through the Faculty Expertise & Contacts section of this website.  Research mentors encourage students to come with their own ideas, even if those ideas are not suitable for an initial research experience. By expressing your own ideas, you demonstrate that you are taking some responsibility for your research.  It’s also a good idea to read a recent article by your potential mentor, so that you have a better understanding of the focus of their research.  And, we recommend that you send your current resume (e.g. as an e-mail attachment) to a potential mentor when you are asking for an appointment to talk with them about research.

Is there funding for research students?  Yes, but there is not enough funding available to support all students who are interested in doing research.  In a research-intensive laboratory, funding priority is given to graduate research students in that department’s degree program.  Funding for Ph.D. students usually has a higher priority than funding for M.S. or D.D.S. students. Research support for non-Ph.D. students, however, sometimes can be arranged with funds from government-, foundation-, or industry-sponsored research grants.  For University at Buffalo D.D.S. students, the School of Dental Medicine sponsors a Summer Research Program with a limited number of summer stipends.

Are there research “clubs” in the dental school?  Yes.  For D.D.S. students, the Dental Student Research Group holds meetings throughout the year to discuss various research topics.  Research clubs, per se, have not been formed by graduate or post-graduate students, but the advanced degree and certificate programs offer a wide variety of research seminars that you can attend.  In addition, the Buffalo Section of the American Association of Dental Research holds occasional meetings about ongoing research in the dental school.  And, graduate students in UB’s Biomaterials Graduate Program recently established a Student Section of the Society For Biomaterials.

I’m not a student in the dental school.  Are there research opportunities for me? Yes.  Students are very much integrated into the research programs of UB oral health scientists.  Whether you want to explore a career as an oral health scientist, or if you wish to pursue a Master’s or Ph.D. degree, many research opportunities are available in the UB School of Dental Medicine.  Our faculty often collaborate with faculty in UB’s other schools, such as the medical school and the school of engineering, so working with students from other parts of the university is possible.  We recommend that you identify potential research mentors by looking through the Faculty Expertise & Contacts section of this website.  And, it’s a good idea to send your current resume (e.g. as an e-mail attachment) to a potential mentor when you are asking for an appointment to talk with them about a possible research experience.  For graduate students from outside the dental school, members of our faculty can also serve on your thesis or dissertation committee, if their expertise is highly relevant to your research and your home department allows committee members from outside the department and school.

Where do I begin!?!  We recommend that you begin by introducing yourself to the other members of your department and working with your department chair to establish an initial mentoring committee that will help to guide you over the first few years of your career at University at Buffalo.  You can also check out SDM’s research webpage on Faculty Expertise & Contacts for more information about our research interests and capabilities. And, you are invited to contact the Associate Dean for Research to discuss your research background and your current plans for building your research program.  We are all here to help you to succeed, and we can provide suggestions for other people in SDM, UB, and the region that may be interested in early collaborations with you.  It can begin with something as simple as a short presentation to another research group, or a brainstorming session over a cup of coffee!

What’s next?  If you are a new tenure-track member of the UB SDM faculty, you need to begin to develop your laboratory (if you are a bench scientist) and/or clinical capabilities for the performance of your research.  If you are a new member of the research staff or a post-doctoral fellow, you should work with your primary mentor to understand the lab/clinic’s current research goals and capabilities, and how you fit into that picture.  Finally, we all need to understand what is expected of us by our supervisors.  One of the best ways to find out is to ask your supervisor about your regular responsibilities in the near-term and how they expect you to increase those responsibilities over some agreed-upon timeframe.  The plan might change, but it’s good to know the plan!

What SDM and/or UB facilities are available to help me?  There are numerous groups and facilities at UB that can help you to build your research program and increase your scholarly productivity.  For faculty policies & procedures, we recommend the website of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs; if you also have teaching responsibilities, there is a link on the Vice Provost’s site to UB’s Teaching & Learning Center.  For new faculty, research staff, and post-doctoral fellows, UB’s Human Resources site also has a wealth of useful information.  And, there are many more resources waiting for you at our SDM webpage developed For New Researchers, including resources for identifying funding opportunities, preparing a grant application, requirements for use of animals or humans in research, and links to major research instrumentation facilities at UB.

How do I find students to work with me on my research?  Think about how you became involved in research, when you were a university student… were you still working on your baccalaureate degree? Or as a graduate student in a formal program?  Or as a dental student between the intensive course & clinical parts of your schedule?  All of these types of students are here in the dental school, and many are seeking research opportunities and mentors.  For graduate students and/or clinical post-graduates, talk with the program directors in one or more of the advanced education programs for recommendations about students who are looking for a research project.  Be clear about whether you have funding for a student stipend and tuition (part-time? full-time?).  For dental students, contact the Dental Student Research Group and offer to be a research mentor.  For undergraduate students (pre-baccalaureate), a good place to start is with UB’s Student Advising Services, particularly the pre-health group and its associated pre-health clubs

Who can help me with the administrative aspects of my research grants?  Some departments support their own grant administrators, while other departments share an administrator on a part-time basis.  We recommend that you check with your department chair for the name and contact information of the grant administrator in your department.  The University’s office of Sponsored Projects Services also provides many grant administrative services, but does not prepare purchase requisitions or personnel appointments.  When in doubt, contact SDM’s Associate Dean for Research.

I want to change the focus of my research a little (or a lot).  How can I do that, without affecting my scholarly productivity or the support of people in my laboratory?  It can be a good idea to change the specific focus of your research, particularly if you have hit a long “dry spell” without research funding.  You will need to think carefully about a new or modified research focus.  What is your expertise in the area?  What is the outlook for research funding in this area?  What resources will you need to establish or refine your expertise and laboratory/clinical capabilities to address the challenges of the new area?  Who are the likely and collegial collaborators? One way to maintain your scholarly productivity, while plotting your new course, is to do an extensive literature search that links your more traditional research area with the new area.  This literature search should then be prepared as a manuscript for submission to a scientific journal.  Good review articles tend to be frequently cited and can improve the journal’s and your own “impact factor”.

How do I find dental school faculty with expertise in my areas of interest?  We recommend that you begin by looking through the Faculty Expertise & Contacts section of this website.  If you cannot find what you are looking for, please contact the Associate Dean for Research (aemeyer@buffalo.edu).

How much does it cost to have a project performed by dental school faculty or in one of the school’s research centers?  Costs are based on several factors, including the timeframe of the desired project, the level of expertise required to complete the project, and the deliverables required by the project sponsor.  The university must charge the sponsor for the costs of personnel working directly on the project (faculty, staff, students; labor and fringe benefits), as well as the costs for necessary supplies,  new small equipment needed specifically for the project, and usage of any major equipment/facilities used on the project.  The university’s indirect costs also must be paid to assist with general university expenses (e.g. utilities, libraries, computing infrastructure).

After I have identified and contacted a member of the faculty who is interested in working on my project, what happens next?  The next step is for the member of the faculty to prepare a technical and cost proposal for your consideration.  You are encouraged to provide the researcher with enough information, so that the proposal is responsive to your request.  The final version of the technical proposal and the proposed budget are then reviewed and approved by the researcher’s department chair, the Associate Dean for Research in the School of Dental Medicine, and the university’s office of Sponsored Projects Services before it is sent to you for your formal consideration.  Note:  Arrangements for some short-term analytical services in the School of Dental Medicine can be expedited.  Analytical services provided by the South Campus Instrument Center are a good example of the expedited process.

What types of research are done in the UB School of Dental Medicine?  Our research programs cover a wide range of oral health problems:  from the basic research of molecular and cellular biology, to understanding community health factors of oral cancers… and everything in-between, such as dental implants, artificial saliva, mouth rinses, denture products, jaw pain, gum disease, and tissue engineering!

How can I help support research at the dental school?  There are several ways you can support our research programs:  (1) as a volunteer in clinical research studies [see next question for more details]; (2) as a student (volunteer or matriculated), you can work in the laboratory of a UB oral health researcher (3) as a community supporter of UB2020 and vocal proponent of dental research by communicating with our regional, state, and national legislators; and (4) as a financial donor.  You can donate on-line or by contacting the Development Office, School of Dental Medicine, 332 Squire Hall, 3435 Main St, Buffalo, NY  14214; telephone:  716-829-6007.  Please specify that you want your donation to be used for support of research at the School of Dental Medicine.  You can also specify the type of research and/or level of student or faculty that you wish to support.

How can I participate in research at the dental school?  Individuals can participate directly in dental research as volunteers in clinical research studies.  UB’s School of Dental Medicine has a variety of approved clinical studies going on at any one time.  Some of these studies require just a short one-time visit to the School; others may ask that you stay enrolled in the project for several months or more.  Your eligibility to participate in a clinical research study depends on the requirements of project (for example, you may need to have a particular oral health condition).  We are planning a website that you can check from time to time for studies that are recruiting new volunteers, but that website is not yet ready.  In the meantime, check the local newspapers for recruitment ads for our new studies.

How does research in the UB School of Dental Medicine support or help the community?  Our research programs support and help the Western New York region in several ways.  By giving our students research experience and critical thinking skills, we are preparing the next generation of community clinicians and oral health scientists who will be prepared to understand, evaluate, and use new diagnostic, preventive, and treatment technologies to improve your health and quality of life.  By attracting research funding to the University at Buffalo, we are providing good-paying jobs to scientists, technicians, and other personnel in the region.  By performing basic research, we are building the critical foundation of understanding of disease and how the body responds to new materials and pharmaceuticals.  By translating our research findings to clinical applications, we are improving everyone’s oral health and quality of life, including helping to establish new companies in the region that will manufacture and commercialize new technologies and cutting edge products.