September 2019 – Jessica Scoffield
Jessica Scoffield is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology in the School of Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Scoffield has a B.S. and M.S. in Biology from Tuskegee University, Alabama and a Ph.D. in Microbiology from Auburn University, Alabama. Scoffield’s research studies antimicrobial mechanisms used by oral commensal bacteria to inhibit bacterial pathogens in polymicrobial infections.
1. How did you first learn about AADR and what motivated you to join? What do you find to be the most valuable benefit of AADR membership?
I first learned about AADR during my postdoctoral fellowship when I was conducting oral microbiology research at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. My postdoctoral mentor told me about AADR and the opportunities the organization offered in terms of training and professional development, which motivated me to join. The most valuable benefit, so far, is being able to talk to senior investigators at AADR meetings and get meaningful feedback about my research and ideas. Over the years, these conversations have really helped me grow as a scientist.
2. What is the best way for other members to become more involved in AADR?
The best way for members to become more involved in AADR is to participate in their local organizations, prospective Scientific Groups, or the National Student Research Group (NSRG). Participation in these groups is especially important for young investigators who seek to develop collaborative networks and gain leadership skills. It also gives members an opportunity to provide input about scientific sessions at future meetings.
3. What do you want to see in the future for AADR?
I would like to see increased participation by young investigators. The AADR provides numerous opportunities for networking and professional development that are beneficial to young investigators who are preparing for careers in academia. I also want to see senior researchers who are conducting significant and groundbreaking research in dental, oral or craniofacial research, but are not actively participating in AADR meetings become more involved in AADR events.
4. You are the first winner of the AADR Procter & Gamble Underrepresented Faculty Research Fellowship — congratulations! The goal of this fellowship is to support researchers from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups at the early stages of their scientific careers and to increase representation of these underrepresented groups at the faculty level in science and academia.
What does winning the inaugural fellowship mean to you? Why do you think this award is important in general and for dental, oral and craniofacial research?
Winning the inaugural AADR Procter & Gamble Underrepresented Faculty Research Fellowship is special and exciting because it indicates that AADR and Proctor & Gamble recognize the value of my research program and understand the importance of increasing the number of underrepresented faculty in academia. This award will not only help strengthen the number of underrepresented groups performing scientific research in academia, but it will also enhance the number of students from underrepresented groups who elect to pursue careers in oral, dental, or craniofacial research. It is critical that our future scientists have mentors and role models from diverse backgrounds and pathways to success who can be a source of guidance and inspiration.