Bennett T. Amaechi - December 2014
Bennett T. Amaechi, B.Sc., B.D.S., M.Sc., Ph.D., F.A.D.I., is a professor of dentistry and director of cariology in the Department of Comprehensive Dentistry, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. He has been with the University since 2001. He earned his B.Sc., B.D.S. from the University of Ife, Nigeria (now Obafemi Awolowo University), his M.Sc. from Guy's Hospital Dental School, University of London, UK, and his Ph.D. from the University of Liverpool.
Amaechi’s research expertise is in dental caries, with particular interest in clinical and laboratory trials of anticaries agents and caries diagnostics. He has mentored students, faculty and fellows, both in the United States and overseas, in these areas of research through his funding from industry and the National Institutes of Health. Through his collaboration with institutions worldwide to promote international interaction, he has mentored students and faculty members in countries such as China, Egypt, India, Iran, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Nigeria, Singapore, Slovenia and Uganda. He has published extensively in scientific literature, including book chapters.
He joined IADR in 1996 and has been an AADR member since 2001. To enhance his membership, he is a member in the IADR Cariology Research Scientific Group—where he has also served as the president and group program chair, among other roles—and the IADR Global Oral Health Inequalities Research Network. He has also served as the president of the San Antonio Section of AADR and the chair of the IADR Fellowship Committee, member of the IADR Recruitment & Membership Committee, and is the current chair of the IADR Constitution Committee. He completed a service in a task force of the IADR-Global Oral Health Inequalities Research Agenda® (IADR-GOHIRA®) that was charged with developing a research agenda to combat global oral health inequalities. He credits IADR and AADR for helping to advance his research career and enjoys being an active member.
How did you first get involved with AADR?
In 1996 I produced my first abstract and that’s when I joined IADR through the British Division. That’s also the first year I attended an IADR General Session. In 2001 I moved to the United States and that’s when I joined AADR. Since the time I joined I have attended either a General Session or Annual Meeting each year.
Describe the first time you attended an IADR or AADR meeting.
The first time I attended a meeting I wondered where had I been that I hadn’t attended a meeting. I realized that I had missed a lot of valuable science by not attending earlier. Through attending that first meeting I met a lot of scientists, especially people I had heard about and only knew through reading their published work. I was also able to gain a better satisfaction for my research because people gave me feedback about my presentation. Since then, the value I place on attending a meeting cannot be overemphasized—the meetings have been of great value to me.
What do you find to be the most valuable benefit of AADR membership?
I find the networking that I do at meetings and through my Cariology Scientific Group to be the best membership benefits. Attending the meetings provides a platform for me to network with my colleagues and to meet future collaborators to create opportunities for collaboration. I’ve also been able to meet sponsors of my research through attending industry-sponsored symposia at the meetings. Additionally, the opportunity to belong to Scientific Groups creates a bigger interaction with your colleagues. When you attend the Scientific Group/Network business meetings at the Annual Meetings or General Sessions, you’re able to meet in person with your fellow Group/Network colleagues and learn about each other’s research. If you’re having difficulty in an area your peers in your Scientific Group/Network can help you and they can give suggestions and ideas for how to pursue your work.
How important has AADR been in your career?
Being an AADR member has allowed me to grow in my research career. It provides the opportunity for you to showcase your work, and gain national and international recognition in your field of expertise. Today, I’m known all over the world in my area of research, which is cariology—this is through showcasing my work at the IADR and AADR meetings. When I was applying for my promotion, I listed 15 contacts that I had met through IADR/AADR, and having those connections was valuable to my career growth. Additionally, it provides opportunity to learn emerging areas of science for possible expansion of your research field. Being part of AADR has grown my research and it has been a very valuable platform for me.
How important do you think cross-collaboration with other scientific disciplines is to the future of dental, oral and craniofacial research?
Science has grown so much that we are no longer in early-man days where one could single-handedly innovate and produce a device to point of application. Today you cannot create innovations without collaborations with others who bring expertise to the project. Science is growing because of collaborations and the more you collaborate the more your research will grow.
What advice do you have for the future dental researchers?
Young investigators are multipotentialites, who have the opportunity to choose any area of research to develop. Attending the AADR meeting provides them with the opportunity to see existing and emerging areas of science, and areas of national and international interest, to enable them make the best decision on the field to follow. Additionally, it creates opportunity to meet potential mentors, who are authorities in their fields, to discuss career opportunities. Of more fun is the fact that, it is the platform where you can put faces to publications and innovations.