“The most significant experience of my life”

Osteology Research Scholars, Maria Elisa Gallaraga Vinueza (Frankfurt, mentor: Frank Schwarz) and Georgios Antonoglou (Madrid, mentor: Mariano Sanz) have been working at the Osteology Research Scholarship Centres for the last six months. Time to talk to them about their motivations and previous experiences.

Osteology Foundation: What was the main reason you applied for an Osteology Research Scholarship?

Maria: It was my dream to be able to research and be mentored by Professor Schwarz. I wanted to grow and learn from one of the best researchers in the field of oral regeneration.

Georgios: My goals were to network with fellow researchers and clinicians and be taught by new professors. I also wanted to gain more experience in periodontal and implant dentistry research.

OF: Looking back, why did you apply for this particular centre?

Maria: I applied to this Osteology Research Centre in particular because I wanted to gain experience in the research field of peri-implantitis, which is the main field of Professor Schwarz.

Georgios: Primarily because it is led by Professor Sanz. He has been very influential in the field and co-ordinates research projects that are relevant to my own research interests. The whole department has a fantastic reputation and is evidently conducting a significant body of high level research.

OF: What were your expectations when you started your year as an Osteology Research Scholar?

Maria: I wanted to learn about histology, peri-implantitis pathology and different in-vitro lab techniques. However, my main aim was to learn from and be guided by a role model researcher like Professor Schwarz.

Georgios: I expected to gain a good understanding of dental implantology research. I was advised by Professor Sanz to follow a workshop on hard-tissue research beforehand, which was great preparation. I therefore expected that I would be involved in aspects of this type of research.

OF: How do you find the mentoring support and social environment?

Maria: I have enjoyed every second of this experience and I am extremely grateful to my mentor and the Osteology Foundation, who have made this life-changing experience possible. I have become a better researcher and have definitely grown and become a better human being. The experiences, the obstacles, the language challenges and above all the people I have met, have made this six-month period the most significant experience of my life.

Georgios: The mentoring support and social environment could not have been better. I have felt very welcome and been integrated into the group rapidly by the clinical residents, advisors, junior and more experienced researchers and professors. Both the research group and the department offer a highly professional and friendly working environment.

OF: To what extent have your expectations been met so far?

Maria: The experience has fulfilled my personal and research goals in every possible way. After the scholarship year, I would like to maintain my connection with the scholarship centre and the Osteology Foundation. My goal now is to promote this experience and the Osteology Foundation in South America. I would love to become an Osteology Foundation Ambassador for my region.  

Georgios: The experience so far has exceeded my expectations. The centre offers a very professional, positive and warm environment even for non-Spanish speakers. Professor Sanz is a true professional and has worked hard to give me a wide range of experiences, so that I can choose my own direction in future.

OF: Why would you recommend that other researchers worldwide apply for this opportunity?

Maria: I have already recommended this amazing opportunity to other young researchers and colleagues. I think this programme is one of the best offered in the world. It really can inspire young researchers and help them achieve an even higher level in their scientific research.

Georgios: As an Osteology Research Scholar you have opportunities to attend workshops, complete training and discuss scientific topics with famous speakers from around the world, junior and more experienced clinicians as well as experienced researchers. Madrid is an extremely beautiful city with a fascinating cultural heritage. The locals are generally friendly and more than happy to engage with you, especially if you make an effort to speak their language. This is an opportunity you definitely shouldn’t miss!

OF: Thank you very much for your insights, Maria and Georgios!