Focus on International Faculty
Dr. Christian F. J. Stappert: A Sabbatical at NYUCD Provides a Path to Tenure at a German University

When Dr. Christian Stappert came to NYUCD in 2004 from his native Germany to conduct research in biomaterials and biomimetics as a Visiting Research Professor, he expected to remain no longer than two years.

"My plan," says Dr. Stappert, "was to perform postdoctoral research on ceramics in the Department of Biomaterials & Biomimetics, and then return to the Albert-Ludwigs University in Freiburg - where I have been an adjunct Associate Professor of Prosthodontics since 2001 - to complete my postdoctoral thesis and gain tenure."

Dr. Stappert was initially drawn to NYUCD by the opportunity to train with Dr. Van Thompson, Professor and Chair of the Department of Biomaterials & Biomimetics, and Dr. Dianne Rekow, currently Provost of the Polytechnic Institute at NYU and Professor of Basic Science & Craniofacial Biology at NYUCD. "The rare opportunity to work with these experts in ceramic materials as part of a team at NYUCD encouraged me to broaden my knowledge in material fatigue and failure behavior, and inspired me to enroll in the MS program in biomaterials," adds Dr. Stappert, who also holds DDS and PhD degrees from Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, and a Certificate in Prosthodontics from the Albert-Ludwigs University.

Dr. Stappert also found himself working closely with research faculty in the Ashman Department of Periodontology & Implant Dentistry, which led him to realize that extending his stay at NYUCD represented a unique opportunity to broaden his expertise in ceramics research and development for clinical application to implant dentistry. Dr. Stappert's colleagues in the Ashman Department of Periodontology & Implant Dentistry arranged for him to be appointed to a tenure-track Assistant Professor position, and he acquired extended funding to continue research collaboratively with the Department of Biomaterials & Biomimetics.

"NYUCD is a big place with unique resources. There is tremendous team spirit and cooperation among departments.

"At NYUCD, we can take a biomaterial from the laboratory to in vivo testing and clinical trials without leaving the building. And you can do the reverse. For example, if there is an issue involving the use of zirconium-oxide abutments in the implant department, I can simply take the abutment down to the biomaterials lab for further analyses and testing."

Dr. Stappert successfully defended his postdoctoral thesis in 2008 and remains on the faculty of Albert-Ludwigs University, where he now has tenure. Says his mentor, Dr. Thompson, "Christian has demonstrated that one can simultaneously make a strong contribution to both research and teaching at NYUCD while maintaining academic ties overseas."