Nicole Quint is a senior at IUPUI studying chemistry. She plans to apply to dental school this summer. This post originally appeared on the Indiana INTERNnet blog.
Indiana INTERNnet: How did your mission trip to Panama solidify your interest in becoming a dentist?
Nicole Quint: When I went to Panama last August, I was able to see how challenging and rewarding the profession of dentistry can be. Not only did I recognize the joy in the eyes of community members after they had their painful teeth removed, but I was able to see the strong impact a dentist has on the community. People may think that dentistry is a silly profession, but when you have witnessed a person that is completely malnourished because their teeth are giving them so much pain they are unable to eat, it is thought otherwise. I have seen the good, bad and ugly side of dentistry, and I still can’t wait to enter dental school and become a strong leader in the community.
IIN: What has your research focused on in the IUPUI Life-Health Sciences Internship?
NQ: My research consisted of analyzing oral bacterial that are known to create cavities called Streptococcus mutans. I treated the bacteria with various dilutions of nicotine and then analyzed the results. The hypothesis of my research was: those who smoke increase their chance of containing a higher amount of oral bacteria, causing an increase in the amount of cavities and leaving the patient with a higher chance of the serious heart disease known as atherosclerosis. All because oral bacteria have the opportunity to thrive in nicotine, then make their way into the blood system, and bind to the walls of arteries potentially reducing blood flow to the heart. Overall my research has taught me that it is just as important to have good oral hygiene as it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
IIN: You frequently presented your work, even at IUPUI Research Day and at the annual meeting of the Indiana Branch of the American Society for Microbiology. How were those experiences?
NQ: While presenting my research at both events, I had multiple people come up to me who were interested in my research. I was able to share with them the importance of good oral hygiene. It was my first time ever presenting my research when I attended the Indiana Branch of the American Society for Microbiology annual research conference, so I was quite nervous. However, I was able to prove to myself that I was confident in my work by proudly presenting my research again at the IUPUI Research Day.
IIN: You’ve completed more than 100 hours of community service during your undergrad at IUPUI. Why is community service so important to you?
NQ: One of the main reasons I like to donate my time is because it has such a strong value to the community. I also find joy in seeing what an impact I have made around the community. For example, when I volunteered with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, I spent five hours one day cleaning up the streets. I had a lady come up that thanked me because she no longer had to worry about her children cutting their hands on broken glass that was in the streets. It’s small moments like that one that encourage me to continue to volunteer.