Student Research Group announces new officers

The School of Dental Medicine’s Student Research Group (SRG) has elected officers for the 2017-2018 academic year. Officers include Maria Isabel Rego, president; Caitlin Mehaffey, vice president; Luke Current, treasurer; and Jessica Shamberger, secretary. V. Wallace McCarlie, DMD, PhD, clinical assistant professor in the Division of Orthodontics, serves as SRG advisor.

SRO Photo

School of Dental Medicine Student Research Group (SRG) officers for 2017-2018 include, left to right, Luke Current, treasurer; Maria Isabel Bel Rego, president; Caitlin Mehaffey, vice president; and Jessica Shamberger, secretary. Also pictured is Dr. V. Wallace McCarlie, clinical assistant professor in the Division of Orthodontics, who serves as SRG faculty advisor.

The Student Research Group is an organization dedicated to advancing involvement in dental research for students with interest as well as growing appreciation and understanding of evidence-based dentistry. The organization is part of the American Association for Dental Research National Student Research Group, a student-run organization, which fosters research among dental students.

Maria Isabel Bel Rego ‘19 holds a bachelor of arts degree in biology from Salem College and a master of arts in health education and promotion from ECU. She is a certified health education specialist (CHES) and has been involved in health equity and literacy research with underserved and minority populations since her sophomore year of college. As a dental student, Bel is part of a research study on oral health and orthodontic literacy in eastern North Carolina. She has been interested in oral health literacy research since her master’s work, when she completed a systematic literature review on oral health literacy interventions for an independent study project. The project was recently selected for presentation at the American Public Health Conference in 2017.

Caitlin Mehaffey ‘20 holds a bachelor of science in biology from ECU. During the past year, she has participated with faculty mentors in research projects that include “Determining the Prevalence of Tobacco Use Among Patients at the ECU School of Dental Medicine” and “Oral Health Literacy Correlated with Oral Health Status in Eastern North Carolina.” With the help of faculty mentors and role models, Caitlin has gained experience with developing and presenting research projects. The SRG was the first student organization that she joined in dental school.

Luke Current ’19 earned a bachelor of science in biology from UNC-Chapel Hill. He participated in research projects as an undergraduate and participated in ECU’s Research Scholars Summer Program before starting dental school. Luke has been involved in a series of research projects including Pediatric-Offspring-Dentistry with dental medicine faculty Dr. Christopher Cotterill and Dr. Linda May. He selected the ECU School of Dental Medicine because of the school’s mission to provide oral health care in underserved communities and dedication to research. As treasurer of the SRG, he hopes to continue building excitement about research among dental students.

Jessica Shamberger ’19 earned a bachelor of science in public health from UNC-Greensboro. Like Luke Current, she also participated in ECU’s Research Scholars Summer Program before entering dental school. Recently, her research has focused on “Experience with Dental Emergency Department Visits” with ECU faculty and staff mentors G. Mejia, K. Gise, K. Brewer, H. Luo, G. Camargo, D.  Peaden, J. Friedrich, A. Taha, and S. Gordon. Jessica hopes to combine dentistry, public health, and research after dental school to help improve the oral health of all people, especially North Carolinians. She looks forward to the SRG’s further achievements through leadership, education, advocacy, and teamwork. Jessica believes that the SRG can provide leadership not only at the School of Dental Medicine but also in North Carolina and the nation.