Virtual Reality Becomes Real
Imagine being able to shrink small enough to fit into someone’s skull and explore it’s bony channels.
Dr. Trevor Thang is working on a research project that will enable students to do that. Using virtual reality students will immerse themselves in an environment of complex anatomical locations allowing them to visualize the spaces directly.
It’s just one of three research projects that he has established at Schulich Dentistry that is creating new innovations in dental education.
Dr. Trevor Thang joined Schulich Dentistry in 2019. Enthusiastic about the opportunity to get back into the classroom and craft the best educational experience possible for his learners – he’s using research and technology to innovate and engage students throughout their studies.
"IT IS THROUGH DONOR SUPPORT THAT REALLY ALLOW US AS A COMMUNITY AND SOCIETY TO IMPROVE AND PROGRESS TOWARD A BETTER FUTURE." — DR. TREVOR THANG
And it is thanks to donor support that his research has gotten off the ground in such short order.
“Start-up funds are a catalyst to creating new and exciting innovations,” said Dr. Thang. “Instead of having to worry about securing funds and justifying every purchase, I can spend more time focusing on the bigger picture. It really helps pave the road to make it easier to achieve our goals.”
Dr. Thang’s research interests are focused on characterizing mechanisms of oral disease or radiographic-pathologic co-relation and integrating technology advances to improve students’ education and patient care.
“Currently, my priorities are focused on trying to engage students through remote media such as the creation of virtual 3D dental models and training videos to ensure students continue to receive a high quality learning experience,” he said.
In addition to the virtual reality research project, Dr. Thang is also using eye-tracking hardware and software technologies to better understand search patterns of oral radiologists to optimize their clinical performance. And in a third project, he is developing artificial intelligence to act as a reference to help calibrate and standardize dental clinicians and improve dental patient care.
To advance these projects donations were used to purchase items such as a virtual reality head set, computer equipment, eye tracking software and hardware, in addition to pay, for student support.
“Since mid-2019, Schulich Dentistry has hired 14 new faculty, five of whom are tenure track and have strong and innovative research interests. This evolvement of research methodologies and efforts in Dentistry is being welcomed with open arms by all faculty and learners,” said Dr. Bertha Garcia, Vice Dean and Director. “Their work is complementing our basic science research and is creating new opportunities for educational growth. I’m proud that we can support Dr. Thang and others to start up their research projects and grateful to those donors who continue to support us.”
Dr. Thang echoes Dr. Garcia’s appreciation for donor support.
“It is through donor support that really allows us as a community and society to improve and progress toward a better future.”