2022 Research Day Poster Winners

2022 Spring Synergy
Dr. Margherita Fontana’s Keynote Presentation in the J. Wayne Reitz Union Grand Ballroom.

After a two-year hiatus from an in-person research day due to the COVID-19 pandemic, UF College of Dentistry’s Spring Synergy returned in 2022 in successful fashion at the J. Wayne Reitz Union on the UF campus.

The college welcomed Margherita Fontana, D.D.S., Ph.D., the Clifford Nelson Endowed Professor and Director of the Global Initiatives Program in Oral and Craniofacial Health at the University of Michigan School of Michigan, as the Kaplan Scholar and Keynote Speaker. Fontana presided over five continuing education opportunities throughout the week for UFCD faculty, residents and students, culminating in the keynote address on April 8, Moving Dentistry Towards Evidence-Based Caries Management.

Drs. Valeria Gordan, Margherita Fontana, Alex Delgado
l to r: Dr. Valeria Gordan, Dr. Margherita Fontana, Dr. Alex Delgado

Sponsored by the Office of Research, UFCD Continuing Education and the UF chapter of the American Student Dental Association, or ASDA, the day continued with poster presentations and wrapped up with the ASDA vendor fair featuring more than 20 industry vendors showcasing products, practices and companies.

Students, residents, post-docs, staff and faculty comprised the 53 poster presentations, and were judged in four different categories: Undergraduate/Pre-Dental, DMD Students, MS/Residents, and Ph.D./Postdoctoral. The judges listened to five-minute presentations from each presenter and came together afterwards to decide the first and second-place winners in each category, outlined below. 

Jenna Stephany SCADA Winner 2022-23
Jenna Stephany, DMD Class of 2025

First-place winners receive a $1,000 travel award, second-place a $500 travel award, to use toward a conference until December 31, 2023.

The college’s 2023 American Association for Dental, Oral and Craniofacial Research (AADOCR)/Dentsply Sirona SCADA representative was also named on April 8. First-year DMD student Jenna Stephany, mentored by Josephine Esquivel-Upshaw, D.M.D., M.S., earned an all-expenses paid trip to compete in the Student Competition for Advancing Dental Research and its Application March 15-18, 2023 at next year’s AADOCR Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon.

Stephany will present her research alongside students from other CODA-accredited dental schools in the United States in the SCADA competition, with three cash awards up for grabs: $1,000 for first place, $750 for second and $500 for third.

Pritika Patel
Pritika Patel, Pre-Dental Student

Poster Presentation Winners


  • 1st place: Andie Kim, mentored by Dr. Mateus Rocha Lab | Synthesis and Characterization of Silver-Arginine Nanoparticles
  • 2nd place: Pritika Patel, mentored by Drs. Jean-Francois Roulet & Mateus Rocha | Characterization of Light Curing Units’ Lateral Beam Profiles – A Pilot Study


  • 1st place: Richard Ong (D1), mentored by Dr. Bernadett Papp | Evaluating the impact of Forkhead proteins on gamma-herpesvirus lytic reactivation
  • 2nd place: Luke Fischer (D3), mentored by Dr. Zsolt Toth | Role of ID Proteins in Gingival Keratinocytes During KSHV Infection
Richard Ong
Richard Ong, DMD Class of 2025
Luke Fischer
Luke Fischer, DMD Class of 2023


  • 1st place: Dr. Mahmoud Mona | Morphological and Molecular Changes in Human Periodontal Ligament Fibroblasts in Contact with Root Restorative Materials: A Proteomics Systems Biology Approach; Authors: M.Mona*, H. Huang, J. Chang, M. Goli, Y. Mechref, R. Pileggi
  • 2nd place: Dr. Adam Hadsell | A CBCT Analysis of MB2 Canal Morphology in Maxillary First Molars; Authors: A.Hadsell*, R. Pileggi, E. Bakiri, C. Cerrud, V.Diaz, P. Pereira and A. Gohel


  • 1st place: Natalie Atyeo, mentored by Bernadett Papp | Herpesvirus Infection of Oral Epithelial Cells Induces Host Transcription Factor FOXQ1 to Sustain Lytic Infection
  • 2nd place: Gabriela Peguero Kushner, mentored by Bernadett Papp | Characterizing Gamma-glutamyl Transferase 6 (GGT6) in Breast Cancer

Dentsply Sirona/SCADA Winner

  • Jenna Stephany (D1), mentored by Dr. Josephine Esquivel-Upshaw | Biaxial Flexural Strength of Lithia Disilicate Disks after pH Immersion