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Shannon Wallet – October 2017

Shannon Wallet, Ph.D., graduated from North Carolina State University in 1995 with a bachelor’s in medical technology and went on to earn a degree in clinical laboratory science from Duke University. She earned her Ph.D. in oral biology from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill in 2005 and joined the faculty at the University of Florida College of Dentistry in 2006 as a tenure-accruing assistant professor in the Department of Periodontology. She was promoted to associate professor and was awarded tenure in July 2013. Currently, Dr. Wallet is an Associate Professor at the University of Florida in the Department of Oral Biology as well as Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs.

She has published over 70 papers and co-authored two book chapters, as well as held reviewed articles for 11+ journals. Her research interests are focused on mechanisms associated with altered innate immune functions, which lead to dysregulated adaptive immunity. Through independent and collaborative research programs, the Shannon M. Wallet Laboratory has been involved, at some level, in investigating the basic biology of health, multiple autoimmune conditions, autoinflammation, sepsis, exercise induced inflammation and cancer.

How did you first learn about AADR and what motivated you to join?
The first time I heard about the AADR was when I was getting Ph.D. in oral biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I joined as a student member and I’ve been a member ever since. Then I was recruited to the University of Florida to perform research on the epidemiological link between poor oral health and diabetes. It was during this time that I really became involved, as AADR has always promoted amazing research in the field of immunology and oral inflammation. Here I fell in love with overall oral immunology and integrated into this research niche. Through these interactions, I also became a student research group advisor and began really engaging students into dental research.

What do you find to be the most valuable benefit of AADR membership?
Networking is definitely the biggest benefit for me — I’ve met most of my collaborators through AADR. AADR has helped with my career devolvement as I went from my postdoctoral research to a faculty member. I’ve also enjoyed my interactions with the students, especially helping them find great mentors and moving their careers forward.

How important do you think cross-collaboration with other scientific disciplines is to the future of dental, oral and craniofacial research?
I think it is huge and I don’t think our field can move forward without it. I came into this field as a cross-disciplinary researcher, I was trained completely in immunology and diabetes, and even though my Ph.D. was in oral biology, I didn’t actually perform oral biology research until I was a faculty member. Coming in and seeing the impact integration can have is really amazing. Cross-collaboration will be instrumental in moving the great ideas of dental research forward.

What do you want to see in the future for AADR?
Because of my heavy involvement with students, I would like to see a lot more alignment with dental education. AADR has done a great job of supporting students and I hope they continue to do that. I would like to see more encouragement of the concept that you can be a researcher as a part of a team as opposed to the sole driver of research. With so much cross-collaboration these days, you can’t always be the sole driver or the one who gets all the credit — I think team science needs to be more recognized and appreciated.

What is the best way for other members to become more involved in AADR?
Having a local chapter is the best way for other members, especially student members, to become more involved in AADR. This promotes and strengthens your local dental research community, and further encourages attendance at the national and international meetings. Having a student chapter, not only engages students but other faculty as well.

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