UWC’s Faculty of Dentistry staff, alumni and students have scooped several awards at the recent annual scientific conference of the South Africa Division of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) held at Spier Conference Centre in Stellenbosch from 1-2 September 2016.
Dr Riaan Mulder’s (pictured below) oral presentation on “Voids in bulk fill flowable composites” earned him the Dentsply Award for the best oral presentation in dental materials.
Dr Hajer Abughufa won the Dentsply Award for the best poster presentation in dental materials for her presentation “Micro-hardness and depth of cure of dental bulk fill composites”. Dr Abughufa graduated with her master’s degree in April this year and her presentation revolved around the findings of her research project.
The meeting also saw students Narges Shirzadi, Jessica Simpson, Danica Smit and Eloïse Weidemann winning the Unilever Hatton Divisional Award for the best undergraduate research project for their paper entitled, “Patients’ Perceptions of UWC Dentistry Faculty Community Outreach Programmes”, supervised by the faculty’s Professor Rob Barrie. They will represent the SA Division at the next general scientific meeting in San Francisco in March 2017. This competition is the highlight of the student research calendar where students from all over the world representing their countries present their research findings.
Barrie said although this was a group project, in terms of the competition rules only one member of the group can be awarded the prize of an all-expenses paid trip to the IADR conference in San Francisco to present the paper there and to compete against other students representing their countries. However, the faculty is exploring ways of obtaining funding so that the whole group would be able to travel and present their paper as the international exposure will be a tremendous experience for the students.
Barrie added that the undergraduate competition is normally contested by final year students, but the UWC winning team is comprised of fourth-year students. What emerged was their passion and commitment to their project. “UWC can be really proud of these students”.
Barrie explained that the research by the winning undergraduate students showed that the patients who receive dental treatment during the faculty weekend outreach programmes in Fisantekraal and Op Die Berg are very appreciative of the service provided. The students found that 44% of the patients had been living with their dental problem for more than six months, and, despite having to wait a long time in the queue on the day of the outreach, 93% of the patients rated the service they received as good or excellent.
“Not only was the research well carried out, well presented and well received at the conference, the findings show how well the outreach service of the Faculty of Dentistry is appreciated by the community,” Barrie continued.