Melissa Talbert was accepted into the Molecular and Cellular Pathology Graduate program in 2004, working toward her DMD/PhD. Her research interests include host tissue responses at the tissue-metal implant interface. She explains, “In particular, we are investigating the role of the matricellular protein, Thrombospondin-1, in biomaterial-induced mesenchymal stem cell differentiation.” She chose to pursue her research and graduate studies at UAB because of UAB’s excellent reputation as a leading health care provider and research center.
Since coming to UAB in 2004, Melissa has received several awards and honors. “Most recently, I was excited to learn that I am a recipient of a F30 Predoctoral Dental Scientist Training Fellowship Award from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). In addition, I was awarded an American Association for Dental Research (AADR) Student Research Fellowship.” Her other awards and honors include Dental Students’ Conference on Research, UAB SOD Representative, April 2007; AADR Bloc Travel Grant Award Recipient, March 2007; Overall winner - UAB School of Dentistry Scholars’ Symposium, Pre-doctoral Basic Science category, 2007; 1st place - UAB Graduate Student Research Day, 2006; 1st place - UAB School of Dentistry Scholars’ Symposium, Pre-doctoral Basic Science category, 2006; School of Dentistry Travel Award, 2006; and Graduate Student Association (GSA) Travel Award, 2006, 2007.
Melissa believes her most rewarding experience here at UAB has been the personal satisfaction gained by growing both as a scientist and as a person through her experiences at UAB. She has had many influences during her academic career. “There have been a number of people who have been influential in my graduate studies and career development,” she explains. “These UAB faculty members include my mentor, Dr. Joanne Murphy-Ullrich; DMD/PhD program director, Dr. Mary MacDougall and Dr. Firoz Rahemtulla.”
Melissa advises other graduate students to “take advantage of the unique collaborative environment, as well as the many resources available to graduate students at UAB.”
After graduating, Melissa plans to pursue a career as a dental clinician scientist in an academic setting. “It is my hope that I will one day make a difference in oral health care through my research and clinical endeavors.”