Jeannette Wing, PhD, speaks at the annual Birnberg Research Day

Data For Good at Birnberg Research Day

Annual Event Celebrates Scholarship, Highlights Data Science

April 19, 2018


Students discuss research at Birnberg Research Day

The power of data science is seemingly limitless, but the cost of irresponsibility is high, stressed Jeannette Wing, PhD, Avanessians Director of the Columbia University Data Science Institute, at the 2018 Birnberg Research Day at the College of Dental Medicine.

“Mark Zuckerberg is testifying before Congress today,” she said. “I don’t have to make this argument.”

Dr. Wing’s talk to faculty, staff, and students was a highlight of the 2018 Birnberg Research Day, an annual celebration of scholarship that honors an exceptional researcher and gives students an opportunity to showcase their own work. Her talk on data science had special meaning this year, months after the school opened the new Center for Precision Dental Medicine, a teaching clinic that passively collects data to strengthen education and patient care as well as to facilitate scholarly research in a range of areas. 

Dr. Wing, recipient of the 2018 Birnberg Research Award, gave a big-picture view of her work leading the Columbia Data Science Institute. She reviewed the “lifecycle” of data, from collection to analysis and visualization, and pointed to the creative breakthroughs data science has catalyzed, as well as the new societal challenges it has posed.

Given the high stakes, “data for good” has become Dr. Wing’s tagline for the institute, as well as the title of her talk. Dr. Wing’s address was followed by a lively panel discussion delving deeper into the topics broached in the lecture, and finally a student poster presentation.

 Forty-four students and residents presented research projects to 30 judges from across the medical center. The projects, developed under mentorship of faculty within the school, across the university, and other beyond, encompassed far more than what is traditionally considered the realm of dentistry: They included work in fields ranging from molecular biology to public health and from regenerative medicine to data sciences.

This year, data collected from the new Center for Precision Dental Medicine made its debut in student projects including one on the completeness of patient records by Seth Levitin, whose work won a poster award at the 2018 ADEA conference. Another project making use of data garnered from the teaching clinics was a project on the relationship between antidepressant use and implant failure, by the postdoctoral student Jaffer Shariff.

Although an abstract from each project is published in the 2018 Jarvie Journal, only a select number of students are selected to receive awards.

“This is the most difficult part of the process,” said Carol Kunzel, director of research as well as a professor of dental community health and sociomedical sciences. “It is very gratifying to see our students grow as scholars. “Selecting winners amongst such a talented pool is a challenge.”


Winners will be announced on Monday, April 23.

Update: The Birnberg Research Day Awardees, as announced on April 23, 2018

Predoctoral - Basic Science

First Place 

"Quantum Dot-Labeled 3D-Printed Scaffolds for Tracking In Vivo Degradation"

      S. Jelke, I. Trygubchuk, S. Tarafder, C. Lee

Second Place

"Structure-Function Relationships of the TMJ in Response to Altered Loading"

   Vikas Gupta, Jennifer L. Robinson, Paola Soria, Jing Chen,  Sunil Wadhwa 


Third Place

"Small Molecules for Stem Cell-Induced Fibrocartilage Healing" 

   Sumeet Minhas, Solaiman Tarafder, C.H. Lee


Predoctoral – Social/Behavioral, Education, Geriatrics, Health Services, Global Oral Health

First Place

    A Pilot Study Assessing and Comparing the Use of Virtual Reality and 3D Video Eyewear for Anxiety Management in Pediatric Dentistry 

Bari Padover, Lynn Tepper, Shantanu Lal


Predoctoral – Social/Behavioral, Education, Geriatrics, Health Services, Global Oral Health  SECOND PLACE

Students’ Progression through the 1st Semester of the Newly Implemented CDM Behavioral Sciences Course: Foundations for Excellence in Dental Practice 

  M. B. M. Figueiredo, D. Wolf


Predoctoral – Social/Behavioral, Education, Geriatrics, Health Services, Global Oral Health


Third Place


Community Based Dental Partnership Program: A Peer-Outreach Approach

R. Sarraf; N. Ndiwane, D.S. Nassimi, H.M. Alrqiq, E.A., Byington, K.P. Ahluwalia


Post-Doctoral Awards

First Place

"Use of Antidepressants and Rate of Dental Implant Failure" 

Jaffer A. Shariff, Daniela Gurpegui Abud, Dennis P. Tarnow, John T. Grbic

Second Place


"An Assessment of Pediatric Providers’ Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices of Fluoride Varnish "

      Lisa Lian, Dana Sirota, Richard Yoon


"Parental Acceptability of Fluoride Varnish in the Pediatrician’s Office"


      Michelle Ferraioli, Dana Sirota, Christie Lumsden, Richard Yoon


AADR Dentsply Sirona SCADA(Student Competition for Advancing Dental Research  & its Application) Program

"A Pilot Study Assessing and Comparing the Use of Virtual Reality and 3D Video Eyewear for Anxiety Management in Pediatric Dentistry" 

        Bari Padover, Lynn Tepper, Shantanu Lal


Recognizing Research Accomplishment at CDMWilliam Jarvie Research Society Mentor of the Year Award

Chang Lee