Allison Tempel discusses her research with Kai Leung, Ph.D. during the summer intern poster presentation Aug. 10
Story and photo by Steven Galvan, DBA
USAISR Public Affairs Officer
U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research
08 SEPT 2016
As Florida Southern College student Allison Tempel heads back to the classroom to start her junior year as a Pre-Dentistry Track (Biology Major) student, she heads back with a renewed sense of knowing that she’s on the right track to becoming a military dentist. Tempel was among 19 college undergraduate students to attend a 10-week summer internship program at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
“I aspire to become a dentist and this program has sparked my interest in dentistry even more, and I believe it will help me be a competitive candidate in the application process,” said Tempel, a self-proclaimed Army brat whose father has been in the Army her whole life. “And, I feel pretty strongly about either being a dentist in the military or working as a civilian dentist for the military.”
Tempel was mentored by Lt. Col. (Dr.) John Decker, chief of Dental Regenerative Medicine, who had three items for her to focus on during the summer –understand the research process, gain insight into military research and develop a practical lab skill set.
“She was an excellent intern,” said Decker. “The steps involved in research and developing a project were the most important part of the whole experience. She was engaged, learned the process and asked challenging questions about the research. As a mentor, it’s exactly the type of attributes and behavior you are hoping to see when you have such a short period of time with a student.”
Tempel and her fellow interns were able to present their summer research projects with a capstone poster presentation to highlight their work.
“Her poster presentation was wonderful,” Decker said. “It helped me grasp the time, effort and hard work she put into her project and the knowledge and understanding of research she now possesses.”
Lead Intern Mentor and Combat Casualty Care Research Scientist at the USAISR, David Burmeister, Ph.D., stated that the summer program is sponsored by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education to expose college students to a laboratory environment and provide them with invaluable research experience.
“This program also helps students to clarify their educational goals and enables them to reach those goals,” added Burmeister.
During the summer, the interns did more than research; they also attended weekly seminars, led journal club sessions and attended Burn Center Intensive Care Unit rounds with the burn center staff.
“I think that the military exposure here is exceptional,” said Decker. “Allison witnessed the greatness of our Army as well as the sacrifice that befalls some Warriors during conflict. When it comes time for her to make the decision to serve in the military, she will be able to reflect on this experience to help her make that decision.”
Tempel added that she was grateful that she was given “an amazing experience” since getting selected for the program is very competitive. This year more than 600 students applied for the internship, up from 60 the year before. That number is expected to continue to grow as students like Tempel share their experience with their classmates.
“The first thing that I will tell them is how important the research being done at the ISR is and how rewarding it would be to see the people you are doing the research for every day, the men and women of our Armed Forces,” said Tempel. “The second thing I would tell them is that there are few places that will allow them the experience that the ISR allowed me.”