Dental schools don’t traditionally teach first-year students the fundamentals of writing a scientific abstract. But last spring, NYUCD broke with tradition and introduced a new Honors in Research Course offering first-year students the opportunity to work with a faculty mentor to develop essential research skills.
The six-credit course is open to all first-year students in good academic standing and offers instruction in research principles, lab safety, and bioethics. Students select a mentor from among the clinical research, basic science, biomaterials, or epidemiology faculty and spend three to four hours a week working with their mentor on a research project selected by the student with her/his mentor’s approval. At the close of the spring semester, students receive a $2,500 Dean’s Award to help them complete the project within the context of NYUCD’s summer research training program.
One of our goals is to familiarize students with research so that they will be able to evaluate new findings and apply them to patient care, said the course director, Dr. Kathleen C. Kinnally, Professor and Associate Chair of Basic Science & Craniofacial Biology. At the same time, we educate students about research as a career option, pointing out, for example, that there is a great demand for faculty who can conduct research as well as teach at academic dental centers. We hope that by our nurturing an interest in research early in their professional studies, more dental students will choose research careers.