Focus on research

Ear to ear

Pediatric dental clinics keep kids smiling.

Marquette pediatric dentist Dr. Cesar Gonzalez met Julianna Vogl five years ago, when the five-year-old’s bright smile masked tricky dental issues. Her teeth had no enamel, a condition caused by a lack of vitamin B, and she needed multiple root canals and crowns.

Julianna was the first of seven children adopted from China by Dan and Nancy Vogl of Slinger, Wis. All seven arrived with a range of oral and physical health care needs. The Vogls are lucky a family friend knew about the School of Dentistry’s Pediatric Clinic.

Julianna’s siblings, Grace, Annie, Cade, Kiwan, Talia and Wen, needed fillings, bridges, implants, extractions, restorative procedures and lessons in oral hygiene. Wen didn’t know what a toothbrush was when Dan and Nancy met her. Most of her teeth were in a state beyond repair.

The first time Gonzalez saw Wen in Marquette’s campus clinic, he had to use general anesthesia to begin treatment. “It really showcases our mantra — not just at the School of Dentistry but also at Marquette — to care for the whole person,” Gonzalez says. “The children come to us in tears, and we see them leave the clinic with a smile.”

More than 7,400 smiles each year, to be exact. That’s how many pediatric appointments are scheduled in School of Dentistry urban and rural clinics statewide. Milwaukee benefits most from having a dental school in the neighborhood. Faculty and students provide an estimated $15 million in services each year to residents — adults and children — who come to Marquette clinics for dental care.

For Gonzalez and the dental staff who help ease children through the process, Talia Vogl’s reaction to receiving dental care makes their work worthwhile. According to Nancy, the then five-year-old walked around smiling and pointing at her teeth for days after her appointment. — BDJ

Lightning Round

Highlighting some faculty research and scholarly honors.

  1. Department of Biology — Assisting Milwaukee Christian Center to help Hmong older adults grow rice in a small community gardengarden-tools
  2. Dr. Michael Schläppi, associate professor of biological sciences — Earned $500,000 federal grant for genetics and genomics research focused on growing rice in cold climates like Wisconsin.
  3. Dr. Patrick McNamara, assistant professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering, with Dr. Daniel Zitomer, director of Marquette’s Water Quality Center, and Dr. Krassimira Hristova, assistant professor of biological sciences — Linked antimicrobial agent commonly found in hard soaps to antibiotic resistance. Their findings were published in Environmental Science and Technology.bubbles
  4. Marquette and eight organizations partner with the Milwaukee Public Museum Center for Wisconsin Biodiversity and Environment — Exploring the state’s changing natural resources, climate and environment.
  5. Dr. Amy Van Hecke, associate professor of psychology — Trained TSA officers to work with travelers who have autism to simulate checking in for a flight, security and boarding processes at Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport. See the Wings for Autism video below.toy-plane
  6. Dr. Krassimira Hristova, assistant professor of biological sciences — Led team of local researchers studying antibiotic-resistant bacteria in Milwaukee’s waterways. Tests find sediment at the harbor is a “hot spot” for the abundance of fecal bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

Start them early

Give these Girl Scouts a new badge — for computing.

About 15 percent of computer scientists are women; less than 10 percent of the women are African-American. Marquette wants to upend that trend in Milwaukee.

Dr. Dennis Brylow, associate professor of mathematics, statistics and computer science, worked with the Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast to bring 240 Girl Scouts to campus in spring 2015, many from Milwaukee’s disadvantaged neighborhoods, to learn computer coding. In addition the Opus College of Engineering opened the class Girls Who Code.

equationThe scouts who came to campus learned the basics of computational thinking and coding. They used beads to encode their initials into fashionable binary bracelets, demonstrating one of the ways computers use ones and zeros to represent information. They used dance and movement to explore iteration and other fundamental components of computer algorithms. With a simple, block-based programming language, they worked together to solve online coding puzzles, such as helping a bee collect nectar and make honey.

This effort is all about reaching girls at a young age. Research has shown that girls typically discount computer science as a prospective career as early as middle school. Yet the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that 60 percent of the job growth in STEM from 2012–22 will be in computer-related fields. “We have to change those perceptions early on,” Brylow says. “It’s a huge gamechanger for us to bring the girls to campus at an early age, before they’ve tracked themselves out of these fields completely.” — JD

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