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Joanne Choi_DentJoanne Choi
Dental Technology

Dental Technology offers graduates a host of career choices, says Joanne Choi, who is now lecturing at Otago while she completes her PhD.

“Graduates can go into things like research, or work with patients as clinical dental technicians or in advisory roles, as well as using their practical skills.”

Joanne entered the degree programme because she wanted to combine her own artistic flair with her love of science to produce something useful.

“I really liked it because it’s very hands-on. Classes are relatively small, and the lecturers and tutors are really helpful.”

After winning a Dental Council prize, Joanne went on to become the first student on Otago’s new Dental Technology honours programme, in which she researched biomaterials.

“I liked the research environment and finding answers to questions about dental materials. I considered a PhD but I thought I needed to get some commercial experience first.”

Joanne worked as a crown and bridge specialist at a Christchurch dental laboratory for three years before returning to Otago for her doctorate.

“My honours year changed how I viewed my studies because I realised how much research can influence the work that dental practitioners do. And just as research changes how people work, my work experience changed how I view research topics.

“Now I’m constantly thinking of how my research might be applied in the commercial world.”

Joanne has just received her first academic post. “I’m teaching first-year students the course that I used to be on. It has been a long journey but it has worked out well.”

She hopes to continue lecturing and researching at the University. “After finishing my PhD, I want to develop my own research theme.”

“A lot of people don’t know it but it’s really fun to find out new things and do work that can help people.”