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/ Categories: Strides in Science

Mark Mooney - August 2013

Mark Mooney, M.S., Ph.D., is professor and chair of the Department of Oral Biology and holds joint appointments in the Departments of, Anthropology, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Orthodontics, and Communication and Speech Disorders in the Schools of Dental Medicine and Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He received his M.S. in biological psychology at Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois, and his Ph.D. in physical anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh.

His research interests have included craniofacial and developmental biology, and the complex genetic and environmental factors that are involved in shaping the human face and body. His principal interest has been the development of various animal models to investigate the interaction of surgery and congenital facial abnormalities on postnatal craniofacial growth in individuals with birth defects to the head and neck.

Mooney joined AADR in 1999 and has been active in the Association in different capacities, including serving as an AADR Section officer and an AADR councilor. He was the recipient of the 2012 IADR Distinguished Scientist Award in Craniofacial Biology Research, which is an award that recognizes individuals who have contributed to the body of knowledge in craniofacial biology over a significant period of time and whose research contributions have been accepted by the scientific community.

What prompted you to join AADR?
When I joined the dental school faculty at the University of Pittsburgh, I noticed that my colleagues were AADR members. I knew that AADR was a good organization to become involved in and that I would benefit from being part of the organization, and it made sense for me to join. Being part of AADR has been rewarding, and it has helped to shape how I view research and my output.

How did you feel the first time you attended an AADR meeting?
It was interesting for me to attend my first AADR meeting as a young faculty member. I was a member of AADR and I was part of the Craniofacial Biology Scientific Group. I attended my scientific group’s business meeting and it was exciting for me to see these huge names in the field. Those people mentored me, and took the time to talk to me and provide encouragement. It was an exciting experience for me as a younger faculty member and it’s still exciting for me now as I have progressed in my career.

How important do you think cross-collaboration with other scientific disciplines is to the future of dental, oral and craniofacial research?
I think it’s the way to go because no one can be just unidimensional. If you don’t do multi-disciplinary research you’re hindering yourself and you’ll be less likely to get funded. There is a big push to cross collaborate at the University of Pittsburgh. I encourage my faculty members to look outside the dental school in different disciplines and find people who will help fulfill their research objectives.

How important is it for other AADR members to be involved in a Scientific Group?
AADR is a big organization and there are many facets to dental research, but you can’t be involved with every facet. I think it’s very important to focus on your particular specialty and get involved in your Scientific Group because that’s where a lot of the networking takes place. These are the people who are doing similar research, competing for grants and looking for collaborators, and knowing these people can help you with your research needs. 

What advice would you give to newer AADR members to help them navigate their membership?
AADR offers many benefits and one of the biggest ones for me is my participation in my Scientific Group. I would tell newer members to get active in their Scientific Group and attend the business meetings. A lot of networking takes place at the business meetings, and the Scientific Groups organize symposia and posters at the AADR meetings. That’s one of the ways newer members can get involved immediately and it’s very rewarding.


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