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Dentistry Student Bags Gold in the IADR (Southeast Asian Division) Competition

06 Oct 2017

Heading for the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) Main Meeting in London 2017

When my name was announced as the first prize winner of the Unilever Hatton Junior Award, I was really shocked but at the same time filled with joy. The hard work had paid off! Winning this competition also means that I will be fully sponsored to represent the South East Asia Division to the International Association for Dental Research Main Meeting to be held in London in July 2018. I am extremely thrilled and grateful for this prestigious award and the recognition given to our research project. A year ago when I joined this research project, it was to fulfil a compulsory special study module for all 4th year dental students. I had not realised the impact that could be delivered through this project. My interest grew along the way as I immersed myself wholly into the project and fuelled by the enthusiasm of my co-researchers Lim Xin Yan and Yow Yuxiang.

With the guidance of my supervisors I was actively drawn into the designing of the study, its execution until completion. The entire journey was not easy as we faced multiple challenges and hurdles. But with perseverance and dedication, we managed to pull through. Upon completion we felt the need for our work to be shared and challenged. Competing at the IADR platform has provided me an opportunity to share our work at a scientific and professional level.

I was humbled by the enormity of the conference and the great research work that many others have put in. This was my first exposure to a major international conference and to be able to present our research work at a conference of this scale and to win really says so much about our project and I am so proud to be in this team.

This project took months of meticulous preparation to complete and this was made possible by my main supervisor Prof Khoo Suan Phaik who had put in a lot of effort and dedication in ensuring that this would be a worthwhile journey of learning for us right from the beginning. My co-supervisors Dr Sangeetha Shyam, Dr Gurbind Singh and Dr Shaju Jacob each in their own field of expertise have always been there for us when we needed them, be it after hours or weekend. I would like to thank all of them – their dedication is priceless. Not forgetting my family and friends too, I thank them for their endless support. One valuable lesson that I have learnt during my preparation for the competition is the shaping of my confidence. Prof Khoo spent much of her time even after the day is done, to train me to think, to be focused, to anticipate and field questions. For that I was made to develop clarity of thought, to present with enthusiasm and field questions with confidence. I felt like I had grown up suddenly and developed confidence especially over the space of the weeks before the competition. Prof Khoo’s constructive criticism stimulated me to think out of the box and pushed me to grow beyond my existing potential.

This journey was definitely an eye-opening experience for me. More importantly, I grew as a person and I gained a lot of valuable lessons throughout this journey. I am really looking forward to the upcoming IADR Main Meeting in London. I know that I have only encountered the very tip of the iceberg, but I am filled with nothing but the will to succeed!

Written by Chiam Lee Cheng (DT1/13) who won this competition (Presentation of research papers among undergraduate dentistry students) on 12 August 2017 in Taipei, Taiwan for her research “Salivary Biomarkers and Periodontal Status in Obesity and Diabetes Mellitus”.

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