Summer Research Sparks Success for Undergraduate Students

For students around the world, summer spells a period of rest and relaxation. But for third year Dentistry student Jiayi Li and many others immersed in summer research projects, the few months that normally account for downtime in the academic year present unique opportunities to spark an interest in and ultimately kick-start a career in research.

The Faculty of Dentistry's Summer Research Projects are opportunities for students to become immersed in the fundamentals of research by conducting basic science, and clinical and public health research projects under the supervision of world-class researchers. Yet Summer Research Projects are not merely introductions to research practices, they allow students to play important roles and key members of research teams.

Over two consecutive summers, Jiayi Li worked on an original study in which she gathered and analyzed data, and published the results as first author in Advances in Dental Research. The article, "Have Women Broken the Glass Ceiling in North American Dental Leadership?," examines and tracks the increasing representation of women among leadership positions in North American dental and specialty associations/organizations, dental education, and dental journals. The Network for Canadian Oral Health Research (NCOHR) recognized the importance of this project by supporting Jiayi to present this project at the March 2020 general meeting of the International Association for Dental Research.

When asked how her work in summer research projects has impacted her journey through McGill, Jiayi noted, "As an undergraduate student, my summer research experience at McGill gave me the opportunity to spend many summers learning about dentistry beyond a classroom or a clinic setting. Research is the fuel that enables innovation in dentistry whether it is through the understanding, prevention and treatment of oral diseases or through the development of new technologies that will that enhance patients’ experience. On a more personal level, my research experience allowed me to form close relationships with my supervisors and to foster my personal growth by challenging my creativity, my curiosity for knowledge and my time management skills."

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