Friday 18 December 2020 9:50am
Congratulations to Professor Warwick Duncan and Dr Joanne Choi, recipients of SJWRI Research Supervisor of the Year Awards for 2020, which were announced at our Faculty end-of-year function on Friday 18 December. These Awards celebrate excellent supervisors of undergraduate and postgraduate students undertaking research projects in the Faculty of Dentistry.
Introduced in 2016, the SJWRI Research Supervisor of the Year award celebrates 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.
In recent years, as a result of a very strong field of nominees and to reflect the different challenges of each, the award has been split into undergraduate and postgraduate research supervisor categories.
Postgraduate Research Supervisor Award: Prof Warwick Duncan
Professor Duncan is director of the Clinical and Translational Research programme within the SJWRI, as well as leading Implantology research within the Biomechanics, Biomaterials 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. He has supervised more than fifty PhD, DClinDent and Masters research theses, the majority as primary supervisor.
Here are a selection of comments from postgraduate student nominations:
"Warwick is the busiest person I have ever met, yet he managed to find time to meet regularly, which was not easy given the inflexibility of my own schedule. His knowledge and experience in this type of research is vast. His expertise was invaluable when applying for ethics, conducting the surgery, and during the histological analyses. There were aspects of my project that had not been done before, yet he was enthusiastic and flexible, no obstacle was so great that a solution could not be found. He is incredibly decisive and continually reminded me to keep my research questions at the forefront of my focus, and helped tie the various aspects of the project together so they told a story. He is extremely organised and communicates clearly what tasks are required and what his expectations are before each meeting. One of his greatest strengths is his ability to provide exactly the right amount of guidance, so the project remained on track/focused, yet I was given enough independence that I feel proud of my own personal ideas and contribution, and growth as a researcher. He was consistently the first of my supervisors to respond to any queries. He gave me some great advice and resources about how to actually write each section of a thesis and was incredibly prompt and practical with feed-back of each written chapter. I have enormous respect for Warwick and have thoroughly enjoyed working with him. He has made the research aspect of my [degree] a very positive experience."
"I have never seen a supervisor as professional, approachable, understanding, and organised as Prof Warwick. He approached PhD in a paper-wise manner, teaching me how to build the whole idea, how to organise my work. He even encouraged my initial crazy ideas which surprised me. Another amazing quality is his ability to build, organise and execute an amazing research team."
"I have certainly developed not only academically, but also on the personal level. To start with, Prof. Warwick appreciates teamwork, and respects specialty. As a student, I found it very beneficial to be working in his multidisciplinary team where every idea is respected and considered. I value these meetings a lot in which I am taught to think like a researcher... Prof. Warwick always gives credits to his students or other researchers in the team. Despite the huge amount of work he must do, he always finds time for his students. His support is not all about academia, he asks us about our career goals, and give us honest advice even if it might not be in the favour of his research. I trust that he puts his student’s well-being first. Above all, I am deeply inspired by how motivated he is. This is something that I will take away with me when I leave Otago. I hope Prof. Warwick will receive this award, he beyond doubt deserves it."
Undergraduate Research Supervisor Award: Dr Joanne Choi
Dr Joanne Choi is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Oral Rehabilitation, where she teaches about dental technology and dental materials. After completing a Bachelor of Dental Technology at the University of Otago, she worked in a commercial dental laboratory in Christchurch for several years before returning to the SJWRI to study towards a PhD. Dr Choi’s PhD research involved developing and validating a sensor system to monitor intraoral pH and temperature for long-term periods in order to identify factors that cause dental wear.
Her current research interests include qualitative and quantitative analysis of the mechanical properties and failure mechanisms of restorative dental systems, observational research in the oral environment using portable measurement systems, studies to develop simulation systems to investigate pressure distribution in the oral environment and head injury, and the development and application of new materials and devices to dental care. Her research excellence led to the award of this year's SJWRI Research Publication Award for staff.
Here are a selection of comments from undergraduate student nominations:
"Joanne is one of the most passionate, encouraging and cheerful people ever. She is not only passionate about the research, but passionately and genuinely care about her students too. She is always contactable and always offers solutions when we're stuck. Her energy in infectious and that motivates everyone to work better. As a research supervisor, she makes every effort to make sure that we are not left alone, putting in just as much into the research as the students do. She makes clear plans and expectations at the beginning, so the research progresses smoothly. I was so fortunate to have Joanne as my research supervisor."
"I have done another degree overseas and was also involved in the research in the past, but it was a very different experience in comparison to the research at Otago and I was not sure if I can do it. But Dr Choi was so very encouraging and helpful to me that I had no doubts that I will be able to do it here."
"She has a very inspiring personality as she herself does not stop studying and upgrading her knowledge and she motivates her students to do the same! Joanne has a passion for her job and especially for the research part of it and she shares this passion with us, her students. She creates the most amazing and friendly atmosphere around her that brings people closer together and makes working as a team enjoyable and very productive experience. I believe with all my heart that Dr Joanne Choi has the absolute talent for teaching and such a creative and insightful mind of a researcher and she deserves to win this award."
These awards indicate the appreciation, respect and regard in which Prof Duncan and Dr Choi are held by the students they supervise. Our sincerest congratulations to both.