INSPIRE Undergraduate Research Conference

On 7th December 2016 the School of Dentistry hosted its second INSPIRE undergraduate research conference, supported by the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Wellcome trust.

Following a rousing keynote speech from Professor Jennifer Kirkham, students were given a tailored welcome to the world of research. Students rotated around stations hosted by some of the brightest research minds within the dental school where they took part in small student-led group discussions.

Topics included oral surgery and oral medicine research, intercalation opportunities, paediatric dentistry research and dental public health research. Students learnt about cutting-edge research underway at Leeds University, such as the genetics of Amelogenesis Imperfecta, self-assembling peptides to promote remineralisation of teeth and bones, the FICTION trial, big data and its use in dentistry (ADVOCATE), the design and evaluation of complex interventions to improve children’s oral health.

Professor Helen Whelton (Dean of the School of Dentistry) said that ‘the energy at the INSPIRE event was palpable. It was very rewarding to see the students display such a keen interest in research. Many of the students had that spirit of enquiry that is essential for good researcher’. Dr Helen Petersen, one of the first NIHR-funded ACFs in the country and involved with the organization of the first INSPIRE event at KCL in 2015, was impressed with the organization of the event and the breadth of speakers. Dr Day said that ‘the event had a real buzz and it was fantastic to see the interest and engagement from the undergraduate students’.

The student feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive; students loved the informal, interactive atmosphere of the event as opposed to having lectures. They described the event as ‘an engaging experience to explore the world of research through discussion with truly passionate and enthusiastic academics’. Attendees felt the event would take them ‘one step further’ towards achieving their career aspirations in research, leaving them feeling ‘INSPIRED’.

The event was organised by Rachael Harlow, a 5th-year undergraduate, with the help of Dr Martin Ramsdale, Dr Rachael Jablonski, Dr Peter Day and Katherine Kaczmarczyk (4th year undergraduate). Katherine will be taking over the responsibility of organising 2017 even