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SJWRI Awards for 2017 presented at Research Day

Tuesday, 5 September 2017 3:00pm

Congratulations to the recipients of Sir John Walsh Research Institute Awards for 2017, which were announced and awarded at the conclusion of SJWRI Research Day on Tuesday 5 September. Our Institute Awards celebrate the research achievements of academic staff and postgraduate students, as well as commending the contribution of general staff to the research successes of the SJWRI and Faculty of Dentistry.

SJWRI Research Day 2017 Awards 650pxWinners of SJWRI Institute Awards and Research Day Presentation Awards for 2017.
Left to right: (back row) Dr KC Li (Staff Research Publication Award), Professor Richard Cannon (SJWRI Director), Prof Warwick Duncan (Sir John Walsh Award), Lisa Falland (Oral Presentation Award/Postgraduate Research Publication Award), Fiona Firth (Oral Presentation Award); (front row) Nawal Abdul Rahman (Oral Presentation Award), Dr Joanne Choi (Undergraduate Research Supervisor Award/Staff Poster Award), Dr Carolina Loch (Strategic Research Prize), Assil Russell (Oral Presentation Award)

Sir John Walsh Award for Research Excellence

The Sir John Walsh Award, our premier research award, acknowledges excellence in research over an extended period of time by a member of staff of the Faculty of Dentistry. This year’s winner is Professor Warwick Duncan of the Department of Oral Sciences.

Professor Duncan is director of the Clinical and Translational Research programme within the SJWRI, as well as leading Implantology research within the Biomechanics and Oral Implantology research programme. Within the Faculty of Dentistry he is Head of Discipline of Periodontology, and in 2015 became the first Otago-qualified periodontist to be promoted to Professor at the University of Otago. Professor Duncan’s primary research interests are in periodontics (the treatment of gum diseases) and implantology (the replacement of missing teeth with dental implants). This work has extended from preliminary trials in animal disease models, to validation in human clinical trials, and have included the development of new bone replacement grafting materials, new metals and surfaces for osseointegration of oral implants, stem-cell therapy for bone regeneration, novel approaches to the treatment of periodontal and peri-implant diseases, and new technologies for diagnostic imaging of gum and bone around teeth and implants.

Professor Duncan has demonstrated sustained research productivity extending over many years, having published over 40 journal articles over the past five years. He has supervised 40 PhD, DClinDent and Masters research theses, 24 as primary supervisor. He has been principal or named co-researcher on 75 successful grant applications since 1995 with a total value to date of $4.78 Million, including two recent MBIE grants for >NZ1.0M each. He is a co-applicant on one provisional patent application. He has extensive international research collaborations, and is regularly invited to speak at international conferences. A very deserving recipient of our premier research award for 2017, Professor Duncan receives $5,000 towards professional development.

Research Supervisor Award

Introduced in 2016, this award is to celebrate outstanding research supervisors of postgraduate and undergraduate students within the Faculty of Dentistry. Nominations are made via a survey process, whereby students are asked to anonymously nominate outstanding supervisors, with reasons for their nominations. Attributes such as being supportive, available, interested and enthusiastic, knowledgeable and an expert in their field, a good communicator, and taking prompt, decisive action to resolve issues were listed as being important for excellent supervision.
This year, as a result of a very strong field of nominees, the award has been split into undergraduate and postgraduate research supervisor awards. The winners of each award receive $1,000 towards professional development.

Postgraduate Research Supervisor Award: Professor Murray Thomson
Professor Thomson is the Head of Department of Oral Sciences and leads the Dental Epidemiology and Public Health Research Programme within the SJWRI. His research interest are in the areas of life-course epidemiology and longitudinal research, periodontal epidemiology and risk factors, gerodontological research, and dental public health and health services research. He is a highly productive researcher, having published 283 papers in the peer-reviewed international scientific literature to date. Throughout his career, he has supervised to completion 64 postgraduate students, including 10 PhDs, 18 DClinDents and 36 Masters graduates, more than half of which have been Masters of Community Dentistry graduates. He has another thirteen current supervisions, including two PhDs, eight DClinDents, one MComDent and one Masters of Public Health. Nearly half of Professor Thomson's published output (137 peer-reviewed papers) has been co-authored with his students. Here are a selection of comments from student nominations:

"extremely helpful and supportive throughout my research journey. He provides the right amount of guidance but lets me problem-solve and take initiative." "Even though he has so many other responsibilities, he has always made time for me"
"an inspiring supervisor... not only have I benefited from his considerable knowledge; his organisation and timely feedback meant I was able to proceed smoothly with my research.

Undergraduate Research Supervisor Award: Dr Joanne Choi
Dr Choi was recently appointed as a Lecturer within the Department of Oral Rehabilitation, having completed a PhD within the SJWRI under the supervision of A/Prof Neil Waddell, Prof Mauro Farella, Prof Karl Lyons and the late Prof Jules Kieser. Her research interests are in dental materials, craniofacial biology and clinical oral physiology, carrying out qualitative and quantitative analysis of the mechanical properties and failure mechanisms of restorative dental systems. She also has research interests in investigating the physiology of the oral environment using portable measurement systems; for her PhD, Joanne developed and validated a wired sensor system to monitor intraoral pH and temperature for long-term periods, the results of which can be used in identifying and evaluating causal factors involved with dental wear.
Dr Choi supervises undergraduate student research in the Dental Technology programme, primarily dental technology final year students within the biomaterials research paper DTEC301. She typically serves as primary supervisor for a group of 4 students as the primary supervisor every year, as well as acting as co-supervisor or advisor for other student groups. She is also involved in supervising BDS honours and elective projects.
Here are a selection of comments from student nominations:

"Joanne carries a truly genuine desire to see her students excel. She is not only passionate about research but most importantly in providing students with the most encouraging environment that builds students’ interest in the topic. I particularly felt extremely encouraged to further my develop in research [from] Joanne's supervision."
"the most supportive, kind and helpful supervisor. Joanne has made me interested in research through her teaching. She gave me enough freedom to do my own research while still helping where appropriate. 

These awards indicate the appreciation, respect and regard in which Professor Thomson and Dr Choi are held by their students.

Strategic Research Prize

This award is to acknowledge and promote new research within the Faculty of Dentistry, by supporting a research development initiative by a member of staff or postgraduate student that could make a contribution to the strategic direction of research within the Institute. This year's recipient, Dr Carolina Loch, receives $5,000 towards her proposed research project:

Reading between the lines: on the biorhythms of enamel deposition
Tooth enamel covers mammalian tooth crowns and is the hardest and most durable substance in the body. Enamel neither remodels nor repairs, and its microstructure preserves vital information on how we develop and grow. When enamel is analysed through light microscopy, cross-striations and lines are evident. These lines, called Retzius lines, relate to growth rhythms in the secretory activity of ameloblasts and reflect biorhythms in the human body. Biorhythms are cyclic changes in an organism’s growth or function that are driven by an internal biological ‘clock’ and synchronized through environmental cues. The periodicity of Retzius lines (RP) varies amongst human populations and between mammalian species. It has been hypothesized that the biorhythm underlying RP regulates the rate of bone growth and adult body mass via metabolism. The causes of this large variation in RP may relate to metabolic rates, growth rates or differences in body size; larger mammalian species tend to have slower RPs, slower metabolisms and extended growth periods relative to smaller bodied species. New Zealand has a demographically diverse population of European, Māori, Asian and Pasifika ancestry, with marked differences in growth rates, dental development and body mass, diet, health status and risk factors. We will test whether the periodicity of Retzius lines in teeth is associated with height, weight, sex and self-reported ethnicity. This approach will provide a novel comparative framework for palaeontologists and anthropologists as they search for the origins of mammal growth trajectories in the fossil record. This study will be of wide interest to researchers in human biology, forensics and palaeoanthropology.

Research Publication Award

This award is to recognise excellence in research by acknowledging the research calibre and effort required to publish in high impact journals in science and dentistry. To be eligible, the manuscript must have been accepted for publication between 1 January and 31 December 2016. The recipient, Dr Kai Chun Li, will receive $1,000 towards professional development.

Dr Li is a Lecturer in Biomaterials Science in the Department of Oral Rehabilitation. His paper, “Porcelain bonding to novel Co–Cr alloys: Influence of interfacial reactions on phase stability, plasticity and adhesion” was published in the December 2016 edition of Dental Materials. The objective of the study was to determine the hardness and adhesion strength at the porcelain to alloy interface of novel cobalt–chromium (Co–Cr) dental alloy restorations. The adhesion of the alloy to porcelain was found to be inversely related to the hardness of the interfacial layer at the alloy surface. Lower interfacial hardness was found to be accompanied with higher adhesion energy due to the additional plastic energy consumed during crack propagation along the more ductile interface region of the alloy. Dr Li was a major contributor in all aspects of the study ranging from manufacturing, testing and data analysis of the specimens to writing the publication as the corresponding and first author. The study was submitted to Dental Materials on the 26th November 2015 and accepted on the 3rd September 2016. Dental Materials is a renowned journal in dental materials research, has a 5-year Impact Factor of 5.155 and is in the top 3 journals within its discipline.

Li, K. C., Tran, L. Y., Prior, D. J., Waddell, J. N., & Swain, M. V. (2016). Porcelain bonding to novel Co-Cr alloys: Influence of interfacial reactions on phase stability, plasticity and adhesion. Dental Materials, 32(12), 1504-1512. doi: 10.1016/j.dental.2016.09.008

Postgraduate Research Publication Award

This award is to recognise excellence in postgraduate student research by acknowledging the research calibre and effort required to publish in high impact journals in science and dentistry. The publication must have been accepted between 1 January and 31 December 2016, and have been written by a Masters or Doctoral research student. The recipient, PhD student Lisa Falland, receives $500.

Lisa is undertaking her PhD research within the Biomechanics and Oral Implantology research programme of the SJWRI, under the supervision of Professor Paul Brunton, A/Prof Neil Waddell and Prof Darryl Tong. Her paper, titled “Investigation of the elastic modulus, tensile and flexural strength of five skull simulant materials for impact testing of a forensic skin/skull/brain model”, investigated different simulant materials (agar/glycerol and agar/glycerol/water) for use as a translucent brain simulant for ballistic testing. This is of interest as access to human and animal brain tissue to model ballistic or head impact experiments is problematic, imaging of cavity formation and internal wounding mechanisms in ballistic studies is difficult due to the opacity of brain tissue, and existing simulants are of limited suitability as a brain simulant for ballistic studies. Lisa’s study looked at agar/glycerol and agar/glycerol water under a variety of conditions in comparison to fresh deer brain. Of the simulants tested, agar/glycerol/water was determined to be the most suitable brain simulant. This is the first time that a suitable translucent brain simulant with brain-like properties has been developed and is a significant contribution to the study of ballistic injury and blood/tissue back spatter using high speed imaging. In addition, this simulant brain material can be used for physical modelling impact studies. As lead investigator and primary author, Lisa prepared the specimens, carried out the experiments, analysed the data and wrote the manuscript, with the assistance of her co-authors. This study was accepted for publication in September 2016 in the Journal of Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials, which has an Impact Factor of 3.110 (5-year impact factor of 3.544) and is ranked as the #20/77 in the category Engineering, Biomedical Journals.

Falland-Cheung, L., Waddell, J. N., Li, K. C., Tong, D., & Brunton, P. (2017). Investigation of the elastic modulus, tensile and flexural strength of five skull simulant materials for impact testing of a forensic skin/skull/brain model. Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials, 68, 303-307. doi: 10.1016/j.jmbbm.2017.02.023

Congratulations to all recipients of SJWRI Awards for 2017.

Report from SJWRI Research Day 2017