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July 2020 – Luciana Shaddox

Luciana Shaddox joined the University of Kentucky, Lexington, Division of Periodontology as a professor with tenure in July 2018 and she became the Associate Dean of Research for the College of Dentistry in July 2019. Shaddox obtained her D.D.S., M.S. at University of Campinas, Brazil, and her Ph.D. at University of Florida, Gainesville, in 2004. She completed a post-doctorate in Oral Microbiology at University of Florida in 2005, became a full-time faculty member in the department of Periodontology in 2006, was tenured in 2012 and remained with the University of Florida until July 2018, when she joined University of Kentucky. Currently, Shaddox directs all research activities, actively participates in Periodontology courses and several college and national committees and has an intense clinical translational research program supported by NIH since 2009. Her main research focus is aimed at evaluating immunological, microbiological and genetic factors involved with localized aggressive periodontal disease in children and adolescents. She has over 60 publications, has been an ad-hoc member of several NIH study sections and is the recipient of several research student-mentored awards and personal awards, including the prestigious American Academy of Periodontology Teaching Award and the University of Florida Professorship Award.

  1. How did you first learn about AADR and what motivated you to join?

I first learned of AADR when I was in dental school in Sao Paulo, Brazil, when I got involved in research during my second year in dental school. I did my first research presentation at a local IADR/AADR meeting, fell in love with the whole experience,and thought, ‘this is for me.’ I continued to learn more about the organization as my involvement with research grew, particularly when I was working toward my master’s degree and Ph.D. I continued presenting projects through the local chapter and then when I moved to the U.S. in 2004, I joined AADR/IADR officially. I come from a very research-intensive university with professors who encouraged the value of presenting and sharing our data. I’ve continued to do so with my students, specifically encouraging presentations at AADR’s Annual Meetings.  

  1. What do you find to be the most valuable benefit of AADR membership?

The networking and the opportunity to share your findings. As researchers, we need to distribute knowledge and spread the word, and networking at these meetings exponentially increases the chances of fruitful and scientifically valuable collaborations and increased quality of science. AADR’s annual meeting is incredibly valuable — it’s the one meeting that I haven’t missed since I was in the midst of my own school days and early research.

  1. You’ve recently been named to the Board. What inspired you to step into a leadership role and work to reinvigorate an AADR Section?

It takes a lot of passion for the profession as a whole and a special “care for the whole” and desire to ultimately make a difference. I admit I’ve always been one of those people who finds it very difficult to say ‘no,’ so the easy answer would be to admit that I said yes because I almost always do! But that’s not entirely true: I really wanted to contribute to the big picture and how we move research and evidence-base care forward! So the Board position on AADR is a good opportunity to do so, is something I really care about and I want to be able to give back in this way. We’re better as a community and we’re better educators, when we look beyond our own research and look at the whole picture, and I think this new role on the Board will allow me to do that. I also think that being able to move forward means we need to get into positions that result in having the ear of leadership. If I can help serve other members and serve as a voice, I hope we can all make a difference.

Reinvigorating our sections is something I come at with a similar viewpoint: It’s important that the value of AADR— and the actions and efforts of its membership — is clearly and actively communicated and acted upon in the local levels, otherwise we don’t move forward (or only some of us do!). We talk about important, high-level matters and stress the importance of research — now it’s time to send out that messaging and encourage that same level of effort to the smaller sections everywhere. It takes all of us to ensure that we’re all focused on the whole rather than just on our own small viewpoints.

  1. What are some of the biggest challenges for women in dental, oral and craniofacial research, and how is your work with the Women in Science Network seeking to make an impact for women now and in the future? 

I’ve been a part of the Women in Science Network for what feels like forever. Even though I have never seen myself as a feminist, I think we’re all the same, with different ‘lenses.’ However, I do recognize that are still many differences here, and there are certainly things we all need to work on to equilibrate them. The role of women in research/workforce as a whole has grown a lot over the past 50 years, little by little, but – as with every change – progress is slow. As much as we may wish we could see changes tomorrow, we need to have patience and a mindset that it takes a long time for people to really look and understand an issue and its roots before they can come up with solutions and then change comes…but it does take time! For women, we still face the challenge of straddling the important line between being a ‘housewife’, a ‘mom’ and our careers. We’re certainly gaining ground — there are greater numbers of women in dental school, more women with professional degrees, and more women in the workforce, and that is great. But to take the next step and start making a difference to achieve this balance, we have to see more women “sitting at the table” in leadership roles. We’re not there yet but we are getting there! A lot of work remains to be done. At home, we need to figure out our work-life balance and know how to share the load with our partners. At work, we need to challenge the status quo and advocate for women in leadership. And slowly but surely, we can achieve that balance!

  1. What do you view as the best way for other members to become more involved in AADR and get the most out of the membership?

Start by “sitting at the tables!” If you’re already a member you need to do more than just go to meetings and present your work, you need to participate! Self-nominate to a committee, find an area you want to get involved in and talk to leadership about ways to get more involved. Find out how you can be of the most help. Now, if you’re not yet a member and are on the fence about joining, the benefits of joining cannot really be put into words — the fact is, you have to join to see what it’s really like. But I can tell you that it’s about far more than disseminating your own findings — it’s about seeing and learning firsthand what others are doing, picking on other people’s brains, which will make your own work so much more meaningful! You’ll certainly find new collaborative opportunities, and let’s face it … the social part of membership is just fun! I absolutely love seeing great colleagues from different universities and all over the world, seeing my old professors and friends, as well as meeting new colleagues with the same passion you have. It is all very rewarding!

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