Skip to content

Student Summer Research Fellowship

The Student Summer Research Program is a unique program at the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry, one that was described by reviewers at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research as a “model program” for other dental schools.


This program began in 1974 with funding from the L. G. Noel Foundation, which allowed two students to participate in summer research projects each year. As popularity of the program grew and obtaining one of the two available positions became highly competitive, the program directors sought funding from the National Institutes of Health. A T35 grant from NIDCR was used to support student research until the grant was phased out in 2005. With the impending loss of federal funding for the program, the UT Dental Alumni Association committed funds to student research and established the Student Summer Research Fellowship. The research fellowship continues to be supported by the UT Dental Alumni Endowment for Research, with additional assistance from the Tennessee Dental Association Foundation.

Program Details

The Student Summer Research Fellowship is open to first (D1), second (D2), and third (D3) year dental students. Previous research experience is not required. However, this fellowship is a competitive award, based on scientific merit of the proposal, project feasibility, and the student’s academic record. Students must be in good academic standing and must receive approval from the Office of Academic Affairs to participate.

Each Student Summer Research Fellowship consists of a $1,200/month stipend for a maximum of two months of research participation. The fellowship traditionally starts in the middle of May with Orientation Lecture and Laboratory Safety Training and concludes in the middle of July, as matriculation begins for the new academic term.

Participants will be expected to submit a final report, which will be in abstract form and used for research presentations. All participants will also be required to present their projects at three separate research events: (1) the College of Dentistry Research Forum in September, (2) the Hinman Student Research Symposium in October, and (3) the Student Research Day in February. Participants may also have the opportunity to present at the American Association of Dental Research (AADR) annual meeting held later in the spring.

Students who successfully complete a fellowship project will receive a passing (P) grade in the elective course (ELEC 504); for which prior registration is essential. 

The number of students accepted in the fellowship program each year depends on the number of qualified applicants and available funding.


Interested students should contact Dr. Mustafa Dabbous ( Program Director or Dr. Edwin Thomas ( Professor, to discuss potential research projects and faculty mentors. This meeting should take place in October or November.

Once a faculty mentor is chosen, students will work with their mentors to complete an application and submit a proposal to Mrs. Iva Pendleton ( Administrative Services Assistant. This application is due the first Monday of February. Proposals will be reviewed by the Review Committee and selected based upon (1) scientific merit of the project, (2) feasibility of project, and (3) clarity and conciseness.

For more information about the Student Summer Research Fellowship and application process, please review the program guidelines, or contact Dr. Mustafa Dabbous, Mrs. Iva Pendleton (, Administrative Services Assistant at 901.448.6167.

Last Published: Mar 12, 2021