Student & Trainee News

Posted on: Tuesday, 07/24/2018

Scholarship Recipient Establishes Periodontics Track

Congratulations to student dentist, James Zaiger, UCLA DDS Class of 2020, who received one of seven $20,000 scholarships from the American Dental Association (ADA) Foundation, which help off-set tuition. The selection process was difficult because the number of applications the ADA Foundation received was tremendous.

While here in dental school, James has spearheaded the creation of the Periodontics Track for pre-doctoral students. He has also been elected by his class members to serve as the Curriculum Enhancement Representative.

When asked what the scholarship means to him, James said, "this scholarship is important to me because, not only does it recognize all of the hard work I have done since starting school, but it also recognizes UCLA, and my amazing mentors who have provided me with the opportunities to succeed and grow."

After graduation, James plans to enter a postdoctoral residency program in periodontics and then hopefully secure an academic position at a dental school.

First-ever Dental Student Elected to Graduate Student Body

Student dentist, Eric Hu from the UCLA DDS Class of 2020, was elected graduate student body vice president of internal affairs for the 2018-2019 academic year. The election, which was held at the end of April, had the highest voter turnout in almost a decade. For as long as anyone can remember, UCLA Dentistry has never had any representation in any elected positions within the graduate student government, which represents 12,000 graduate students.

Prior to the VP position, Eric served the graduate students as the director of events with an annual budget exceeding $100,000. He also served as the UC System-wide Academic Affairs Officer. Eric isn’t a stranger to leadership, having served as class president in his undergraduate years at Colgate and also as vice president of his dental school class.

“As the GSA Events Director, I had the privilege to meet a lot of graduate students this year from different programs and hear their stories, aspirations, and above all, the desire to build a strong community. The desire to build a strong community is precisely what inspired me to run for office this year and it's what I intend to accomplish with all of our fellow graduate students.”

Pediatric Resident Receives Dental Pioneer's Namesake Scholarship 

Dr. Donielle Williams, pediatric dentistry resident with the Class of 2020 and recent alum of the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Dentistry, was the recipient of a $10,000 scholarship from the National Dental Association (NDA) Foundation. Dr. Williams was recognized with the 2018 Dr. Bessie Delaney Scholarship, an award sponsored by Colgate, at a luncheon on July 13, during the NDA Convention in Orlando, FL. Scholarship recipients are chosen because they exemplify the qualities of Dr. Delaney, a philanthropist and oral health advocate in the field of pediatric dentistry. UCLA Dentistry is honored that Dr. Williams has chosen UCLA to pursue advanced specialty training.

PhD Candidate Recognized for Early Career Achievements 

At the end of March, Dr. Drake Williams, UCLA DDS ’17, was presented with the Henry M. Thornton SCADA Fellowship Award, during the Dentsply Sirona Student Competition for Advancing Dental Research and its Application (SCADA) Awards Ceremony, at the 47th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Dental Research/42nd Annual Meeting of the Canadian Association for Dental Research. Other members of the UCLA Dentistry community who have received the same award include Dr. David Wong, associate dean for research and Dr. Insoon Chang, UCLA DDS ’13, MS ’10, PhD ’17. 

At the beginning of July, Dr. Williams also received a Young Investigator Award for PhD training from the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research. He was among four other PhD candidates in the nation and Canada who received the award.

Dr. Williams is currently pursuing a PhD degree, studying the role of pro-inflammatory cytokines in medication related osteonecrosis of the jaw (MRONJ) and chronic inflammation at the UCLA School of Dentistry. Dr. Reuben Kim, professor and chair of the section of restorative dentistry, is his mentor.

First-year Student Dentist Recognized for Commitment to Service 

Justina Esuola, incoming predoctoral student in the Class of 2022, was awarded the Loyola Marymount University's Presidential Citation award, which is presented to 21 seniors in the graduating class. Seniors must hold at least a 3.5 GPA and demonstrate a commitment to LMU's mission to create "men and women for others", through leadership and community service.

Ms. Esuola affirmed her long held desire to obtain a dental degree after shadowing a dentist at the Venice Family Clinic and going on a medical/dental mission to Nigeria. After seeing the smiles on patients faces once they leave the office, she knew she wanted to become a dentist. 

“I am looking forward to learning from some of the best dental professionals in the field, as well as working with the other student-doctors who will be attending UCLA. Additionally, I look forward to being able to continue service in Los Angeles through the various service programs offered by UCLA School of Dentistry.”


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