Faculty and Staff, Research, Students

Oral health care on display at annual Research Day event

More than 200 people attended the 40th annual Research Day at UNC Adams School of Dentistry.

For the past 40 years, Research Day at Adams School of Dentistry has focused on highlighting innovations and insights into oral health care as well as the dedicated researchers who ask questions and explore scientific solutions.

“Research Day creates a forum to gather and highlight research discoveries from the Adams School of Dentistry. It helps showcase the incredible work that our researchers are performing, but also serves as a reminder that the future of patient care is built on the foundation of research discoveries. Without these integral advancements, the dental medicine community does not progress,” said organizer Adam Lietzan, DMD, MS, PhD.

Adam Lietzan , left, and Poojan Shrestha, right, helped organized the 40th annual Research Day event.

More than 200 people attended the annual event, and researchers presented around 60 abstracts. Former ASOD faculty member and alumna Jennifer Webster-Cyriaque, DDS, PhD, the current deputy director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), delivered the keynote address and focused on the current state of dental research and ongoing national initiatives in oral health care and research.

ASOD alum Jennifer Webster-Cyriaque, DDS, PhD, the current deputy director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), with ASOD Dean Janet Guthmiller. Cyriaque-Webster delivered the keynote address.

“Research Day is an exciting time for our research community and our school, as it gives us the opportunity to learn more about the work our colleagues are doing and an avenue to celebrate these important scientific accomplishments,” said Janet Guthmiller, DDS, PhD, dean, Adams School of Dentistry. “It was wonderful to have Dr. Cyriaque-Webster here with us, sharing her own research story as well as opportunities for future research in oral health.”

Organizers are already looking ahead to next year and building on the successes of 2024, including an increase in student interest and involvement.

More than 60 abstracts were presented at the annual event.

“There were more than 150 first- and second-year dental students attending and participating in Research Day. They had an opportunity to engage with science and think about the potential to improve oral health and overall health with the reported discoveries from our basic, clinical, and translational research presentations. We endeavor to continue growing student engagement at Research Day in the future,” said Josh Little, D.C., Ph.D., director, Curricular Integration of the Biomedical Sciences.

The day’s events also featured awards for faculty and students in the DDS, master’s degree and PhD programs, highlighting their work in research across oral health care.

“It has been an incredible honor to be recognized last year and this year for my research by esteemed research faculty here at ASOD,” said Bree Smith, DDS ‘25, and recipient of the NC AADOCR Research Day Award. “Prior to dental school, I knew I wanted to participate in research, and I feel I have been welcomed into the research community here with open arms. I am fortunate to have been able to work with some incredible faculty, Drs. Jessica Y. Lee, Kimon Divaris and Poojan Shrestha, these past two years and grow in my skills as a young researcher. I am honored to have represented UNC in the SCADA competition at the IADR meeting this year and am excited to be the NC AADOCR recipient at next year’s AADOCR meeting.”

Research Day Recognition and Awards



Faculty Mentor

James Bawden Student Research Award

Periodontal Impact Of Orthodontic Incisor Retraction Beyond A Biological Boundary

Justin Hunt (DDS3)

Tung Nguyen

Derek T. Turner Student Research Award – Dental Hygiene (poster)

Confident Care, Healthier Smiles: Improving Spanish-Language Oral Health Education

Jazmin Ibarra Soltero

Roxanne Dsouza-Norwood

Dentsply Sirona ADHA Graduate Student Clinician’s Research Award

Dental Hygiene Students’ Opinions on Interprofessional Simulated Patient Case Activity

Angela (Ye) Wan

Jennifer Harmon

Derek T. Turner Student Research Award – DDS (poster)

Acidic Stress Exacerbates Microbial Ligand-Induced Human Oral Epithelial Cell Inflammation

Angela Chen (DDS2)

Christina Graves

Derek T. Turner Student Research Award – DDS (oral presentation)

PD-L1 Gene Therapy Rescues Sjogren’s Syndrome Symptoms in Mice

Bijan Mahboubi (DDS3)

Chengwen Li

Derek T. Turner Student Research Award – MS/ADE (poster)

Speech in Class III Dentofacial Disharmony Patients following Orthognathic Surgery

Christine Bode


Laura Jacox


Derek T. Turner Student Research Award – MS/ADE (oral presentation)

Near-Infrared Imaging in Intraoral Scanners for Early Interproximal Caries Detection

Adam Hoxie

Apoena Ribeiro

Derek T. Turner Student Research Award – PhD student/post-doctoral trainee (poster)

Pulp Regeneration by Stem Cells from Deciduous and Permanent Teeth

SM Ziauddin

Patricia Miguez

Derek T. Turner Student Research Award – PhD student/post-doctoral trainee (oral presentation)

Assessing Vowels in Anterior Open Bite Patients Undergoing Orthognathic Surgery

Erika Rezende Silva

Laura Jacox

Dentsply Sirona Student Competition for Advancing Dental Research (SCADA) – UNC DDS student

Impacts of Class III Dentofacial Disharmony Surgical Correction on Vowels

Olivia TumSuden

Laura Jacox

NC AADOCR Research Day Award

Development and Testing of Machine Learning-Based Models for Caries Experience

Breanne Smith

Kimon Divaris and Poojan Shrestha