FCDSA hosts first-ever national dental student research competition

In an effort to connect dentistry student researchers across the country, the Federation of Canadian Dentistry Student Associations (FCDSA) hosted its first-ever national research competition on October 16.

“Student researchers deserve to be acknowledged for their hard work and diligence. The FCDSA believes it is our responsibility to showcase and celebrate our peers’ efforts,” said Nima Lighvan, Dentistry Class of 2023 and Vice-President of Research on the FCDSA Executive Council.

In response to news that bi-annual Canadian Dental Student Conference would be postponed due to pandemic restrictions, Lighvan and the Council came up with the idea for a student-led research competition – a first in Canada – that could be held virtually. The inaugural FCDSA Annual Research Competition featured judges and participants from seven Canadian dental schools.

While a virtual format for the inaugural FCDSA Annual Research Competition was necessary, it also meant students didn’t have to travel to attend. This has made the event more inclusive, capturing a truly pan-Canadian picture of dental student research.

“In previous conferences, the majority of participants were from local dental students. That’s why we considered this to be the FCDSA’s first stand-alone research competition,” said Lighvan, who was the host and moderator of the event.

The FCDSA selected 12 students to compete, with each having ten minutes to present their research projects. From the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Anissa Gamble, Dentistry Class of 2024, Vlad Podsklaniy, Dentistry Class of 2023, Melika Pahlevan Sabbagh, Dentistry Class of 2024 and Arpita Parmar, Dentistry Class of 2024, took part in the competition.

Parmar says she thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to meet student researchers across the country.

 “This was my first virtual conference, and I found it to be a very convenient way to share research and connect with other dental students,” she said. “All of the presentations were outstanding.”

Her research project examined the quality of access and barriers to oral care experienced by children with complex medical issues.

This project is important because children with medical complexity are at a greater risk of dental caries and oral disease or infections than typically developing children,” Parmar said. “I was grateful to share the research I had been working on and receive insightful feedback from very experienced judges.”

More information about the winners of the research competition can be found on the FCDSA website.