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Student Research Program

The student research program provides an opportunity for dental students to become involved in research during the academic year as well as in the summer intersession period.

On this page:

While there is no requirement for students to become involved in research while completing the requirements for the DDS program, they are encouraged to do so.

Gain Experience and Insight

The School of Dental Medicine is a nationally recognized center for dental research. Students who take advantage of research opportunities become far more knowledgeable of their profession regardless of whether or not they choose a career in dental research.

Participation in research:

  • Encourages critical review and analysis of scientific design — skills crucial to the development of clinical competence in diagnosing and treating patients
  • Provides insight into additional career alternatives; some participants have chosen to pursue careers in academic dentistry following their research
  • Allows students to interact and work with faculty under more informal circumstances; many students work with a single faculty member on research in a specific area that extends over three or four years
  • May lead to publication of research in scientific literature, as well as travel for presentation of data at national and international meetings

Find a Faculty Mentor

Many faculty members participate in the Student Research Program. Their research interests include all area of the basic sciences and dental clinical Sciences. Students are encouraged to contact these faculty members to pursue specific projects.

There are several ways to find a research mentor. 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 page on this website.

Tips for Finding a Mentor

  • 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.
  • Read a recent article by your potential mentor, so that you have a better understanding of the focus of their research.
  • Send your current resume to a potential mentor when you are asking for an appointment to talk with them about research.

Graduate With Honors

By compiling the results of completed research into a thesis and presenting the results of their efforts to the members of the Student Research and Honors Committee, students may graduate with thesis honors — a designation noted on the diploma.

How to Get Funding

Attempts are made to subsidize participants whenever possible. However, there is not enough funding available to support all students who are interested in doing research. A small stipend is available from the Dean's office for DDS students who have been selected to participate in the Summer Research Program. Application for participation in the Summer Research Program is a 2-step process: (1) submission of a Letter of Intent in the Fall semester and (2) submission of a research proposal in January. The student's research mentor must be involved in both parts of this process. Proposals are evaluated by the school's Student Research & Honors Committee, which makes recommendations for funding to the Associate Dean for Research. 

In a research-intensive laboratory, funding priority is given to graduate research students in that department’s degree program. Funding for PhD students usually has a higher priority than funding for M.S. or DDS students. Research support for non-PhD students, however, sometimes can be arranged with funds from government-, foundation-, or industry-sponsored research grants.

Documents, Links and Resources

Student and Mentor Assurances: This required form will be sent to all students and mentors who submitted a Letter of Intent.