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Student Research Group, coordinator recognized by AADOCR

Published: April 04, 2022 by Kyle Rogers

Dr. Dharini van der Hoeven (center) holds her National Student Research Group Mentor of the Year plaque, while flanked by officers from the UTHealth Houston School of Dentistry Student Research Group.
Dr. Dharini van der Hoeven (center) holds her National Student Research Group Mentor of the Year plaque, while flanked by officers from the UTHealth Houston School of Dentistry Student Research Group, Monday, April 4, 2022. Photo by Brian Schnupp.

The UTHealth Houston School of Dentistry Student Research Group and Student Research Coordinator Dharini van der Hoeven, MSc, PhD, each received awards from the American Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research in March. SRG received the Outstanding Local Student Research Group Chapter Award, while van der Hoeven was named the National Student Research Group Mentor of the Year.

Outstanding LSRG Chapter Award

The Outstanding LSRG Chapter Award recognizes one specific chapter that excels in all categories of a successful student research group. AADOCR NSRG Officers review achievements of student research groups throughout the year and their efforts to continue to foster awareness of research in dentistry.

The School of Dentistry’s SRG was recognized on March 16 during the Virtual AADOCR NSRG Student Meeting and Awards Ceremony, which coincided with the AADOCR/Canadian Association for Dental Research Annual Meeting and Exhibition taking place in Atlanta. In addition to the recognition during the meeting, SRG received a $400 prize for the group’s use.

SRG is led by third-year dental students Ali Al Hatem, president; Ryan Lee, vice president and editor-in-chief; and Laura Arsto, secretary; and second-year dental student Stephanie Gilbert, historian.

“For us, this award signifies the beginning of our chapter taking a bigger step on the national stage,” said Hatem. “We’ve had individuals serving as officers in the NSRG, but this award embodies the hard work our members and officers have put in to earn national recognition for the chapter as a whole. We’re very excited for what we’re going to accomplish in the years to come and are eager to further step up to the national stage.

“As the 2021-22 UTHealth Houston School of Dentistry Student Research Group president, I’m very proud to see my chapter be awarded this prestigious award, and I look forward to seeing it continue to grow and advocate for research to set the foundations for evidence-based dentistry.”

SRG thanks the following individuals and entities for their continued support and all they have done to allow its success and development:

  • John Valenza, DDS, dean and distinguished teaching professor;
  • Ariadne Letra, DDS, PhD, professor and interim associate dean for research;
  • Dharini van der Hoeven, MSc, PhD, associate professor and student research coordinator;
  • Gena Tribble, PhD, associate professor and former student research coordinator;
  • Auco Dang, director of administration and former Office of Research administrative manager;
  • Arminda Martinez, senior support assistant, Office of Research;
  • Kyle Rogers, communications manager, PACE Center;
  • Brian Schnupp, senior multimedia specialist, Office of Technology Services and Informatics;
  • School of Dentistry Office of Research;
  • Faculty mentors;
  • SRG members;
  • NSRG; and
  • AADOCR

NSRG Mentor of the Year

AADOCR initiated the NSRG Mentor of the Year honor in 1997 to provide national recognition for outstanding faculty members.

Van der Hoeven, who has served as student research coordinator since May 1, 2021, was recognized during the Opening Ceremonies and Awards Presentations of ADDOCR’s 51st Annual Meeting and Exhibition on March 23. The hybrid event was held in conjunction with the 46th Annual CADR Meeting, which took place across March 21-26.

“It’s a great honor to be chosen by the National Student Research Group for this award,” said van der Hoeven. “I want to thank my trainees and officers of the Student Research Group at UTHealth Houston School of Dentistry, especially the SRG president, Ali Al Hatem, for nominating me.

“I’ve mentored many students in research, and each student has set me on a different mentoring journey. In my 10 wonderful years of mentoring students, I’ve learned to embrace the individuality of my mentees. The mentoring experience, as cliché as it may sound, has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my job as a faculty.”

To date, van der Hoeven has mentored nine dental and two undergraduate students, as well as co-mentored one resident in research. Her overall goal as a mentor is to promote the professional development of her students. Toward this end, she has worked with each student to develop skills and expertise beyond the lab environment in areas such as writing and public speaking. Her students have won 29 awards in total, four of which are recognition at the international level and four at the national level.

An associate professor in the Department of Diagnostic and Biomedical Sciences, van der Hoeven joined the School of Dentistry faculty in 2012 and holds an adjunct faculty position within the McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology.

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