September 2018 – Tanner Godfrey
Tanner Godfrey is a D.M.D./Ph.D. student at the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Dentistry. His research interests include investigating the role of chromatin remodeling in osteoblast differentiation, bone formation and maintenance.
Godfrey is the recipient of numerous research awards including the inaugural IADR Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition in 2017 and the AADR Student Research Award. He was also a finalist in the AADR Hatton competition in 2017 and received first place in the 2018 competition, earning him a spot in the international Hatton competition. He has served in multiple roles within the AADR National Student Research Group (NSRG) — a student-run organization that fosters an environment in every dental school whereby students can enrich their dental education through research.
Godfrey was selected as the 2017-2018 Gert Quigley Fellow and in that capacity a new member of the AADR Government Affairs Committee. During the Fellowship program, Godfrey received first-hand insight into government affairs and science policy work. In addition to his involvement with AADR, Godfrey is also an active AADR donor.
How did you first learn about AADR and what motivated you to join?
Currently, I am a dual degree student at the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Dentistry. Here we start with a Ph.D. program and my first rotation was with Dr. Quamarul Hassan. I had success with my first research project, so he encouraged me to present at the AADR meeting in Los Angles. Along with that, my classmate and then NSRG President, Mitra Adhami, encouraged me to run for a position in the NSRG elections. I ran for the secretary position and was elected.
What do you find to be the most valuable benefit of AADR membership?
For me, the professional collaboration and networking is extremely valuable. Since I’ve joined AADR, I’ve encountered leaders in the field on a regular basis. Interacting with those leaders builds my professional career and helps get my research out there — this has been very important in the development of my career. And of course there are many benefits that come with presenting your research at AADR meetings.
What do you want to see in the future for AADR?
I would like to see that all the members of AADR feel that they have a home in a scientific group/network. If members can find their subgroups at the meetings, especially recent graduates, post-doctoral researchers, and early career investigators, this will create a sense of belonging and help these populations transition into continued AADR membership.
What is the best way for other members to become more involved in AADR?
Looking for your Scientific Group/Network is vital to becoming involved with AADR. There are many opportunities to volunteer, present and hold leadership roles within your Scientific Group/Network. For students, being involved in the NSRG is a great way to connect not only with other students but with the leaders of the organization and the field. My leadership roles within the NSRG have been invaluable to my training. I started out as NSRG Secretary and I am currently NSRG President-elect.
The Gert Quigley Public Policy Fellowship provides a unique learning experience both in Washington, D.C. and through grassroots efforts at the participant’s local university or institution. This fellowship is designed to familiarize dental school, Ph.D. or dual degree students with the federal legislative process as it relates to basic and translational dental and craniofacial research, as well as research on the oral health care delivery system. What did you glean from your time as a Gert Quigley Fellow? Would you recommend others to apply?
The Gert Quigley Public Policy Fellowship was a great experience. Advocacy and funding can easily be taken for granted by researchers. Our funding is not given freely, there are many people behind the scenes who fight to get more financial support for researchers. Being able to see that process encourages me to see how I can contribute. It was also a valuable experience to work with and build relationships with leaders at the NIDCR and NIH — I had meetings with them on a regular basis. Sometimes people don’t think they can play a role in advocacy, but AADR has made it easy to be involved.
Why do you donate to AADR and why is it important for others to do so?
Knowing where the support for research comes from, I think it is very important to donate to the AADR mission. If you are able to give back, even just a little, and make giving a habit, this can greatly impact the AADR and the field of dental, oral and craniofacial research. The AADR has provided multiple opportunities for me to network and grow my career — I am more than happy to donate to an organization that gives so much back.