October

Tammy Vujanovic is a first-year student in the School of Dentistry.
Tammy Vujanovic is a first-year student in the School of Dentistry.
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People of the U: Tammy Vujanovic

Published on Monday, October 18, 2021

By: Ruth Cummins, ricummins@umc.edu

She’s only a first-year student in the School of Dentistry at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, but Tammy Vujanovic already has plenty of experience in advocating for dental health in the community.

A graduate of the University of Mississippi, Vujanovic founded a student organization, Smile Makers, on that campus to promote Smile Train. The nonprofit is the largest cleft-focused organization providing training, funding, and resources to empower local medical professionals in 70-plus countries to provide free cleft surgery and other forms of essential cleft care.

Over the past 20 years, Smile Train has impacted more than 1.5 million children. Vujanovic wants to do her part in increasing that number.

“I am currently a board member on their Young Leadership Circle, and I strive to bring their mission statement to UMMC so that we can integrate it in the way we serve our patients and campus community,” she said.

School of Dentistry first-year student Tammy Vujanovic began a project on using artificial intelligence in clinical dentistry during the summer UPSTART program in the Schoolof Dentistry. She's pictured with her mentor, Dr. Rohan Jagtap, assistant professor of Care Planning and Restorative Sciences.
Vujanovic began a project on using artificial intelligence in clinical dentistry during the summer UPSTART program in the Schoolof Dentistry. She's pictured with her mentor, Dr. Rohan Jagtap, assistant professor of Care Planning and Restorative Sciences.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast resident said she created Smile Makers “as a way for me to get into dentistry before I got into dental school.”

She was attracted to dentistry as a career after job shadowing and her experiences with Smile Train and Smile Makers. “I was able to see how great an impact you can make in a person and their oral health,” Vujanovic said.

Her time at Ole Miss also included serving as an ambassador for the campus health professions advising office. “I worked with prospective students on visits and connected with them over the phone to support then and answer their questions,” Vujanovic said. “That translated well to coming here.”

Vujanovic also got a head start on her medical studies by taking part in the Undergraduate and Professional Student Training in Advanced Research Techniques, or UPSTART. The summer research program provides an opportunity for eligible dental, pre-dental, pre-graduate and high school students to take part in faculty-mentored research.

Her UPSTART mentor was Dr. Rohan Jagtap, a director and assistant professor for the Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology in the Department of Care Planning and Restorative Sciences. She’s continuing her research with Jagtap as part of her dental education.

“Right now, our project is how to use artificial intelligence in clinical dentistry,” Vujanovic said. “This will be a continuous project, and we will present the research at the School of Dentistry’s Research Day.” 

Rochan Jagtap
Jagtap

“I was impressed with her undergraduate academic and research achievement and decided to mentor her in a research project this (past) summer,” Jagtap said. “Her eagerness to learn new technologies such as artificial intelligence in dentistry is quite commendable.”

As part of the UPSTART symposium, Jagtap said, “Tammy did an excellent oral presentation on ‘Evaluation of artificial intelligence for automatic teeth detection and periapical pathosis on panoramic radiography.’ Through her presentation skills, she left a deep impression on everyone at the symposium.”

As the new semester gets underway, “my D1 class is coming together to do an informational webinar on cleft lip and palate,” Vujanovic said. The webinar will explain “how treatment is multidisciplinary – nutritionists, speech and language therapists, ENT, orthodontics.”

Vujanovic isn’t leaning toward a particular career dental specialty just now, but knows she wants it to have a charitable or philanthropic element. “I really just want to be as open as I can with my dental education,” she said. “I want to make the most of every class and the professors here to get their guidance.”

Vujanovic is “an emerging research scholar. She is highly motivated individual with the passion for dentistry and health care,” Jagtap said. “Looking at her enthusiasm, I am certain that she will be a great health care provider for our fantastic patients and accomplish more milestones during her journey at the School of Dentistry.”