Gustavo Mahn is a third-year resident in operative dentistry within the UNC Adams School of Dentistry. He was born and raised in Chile, and earned his DDS degree and received his Prosthodontics Specialty Certificate from the University of Chile. After graduation, he had a private dental practice and taught part-time in Chile before moving to the United States to pursue an academic career.
What made you choose UNC-Chapel Hill when deciding on a program/place to study?
UNC has gained a world-class reputation in restorative dentistry in the past decades, both because of research and teaching. While studying to get my DDS degree in Chile, we used the book “Sturdevant’s Art and Science of Operative Dentistry” as a reference for most of the restorative dentistry courses. [Dr. Clifford Sturdevant, a founding faculty member of the UNC Adams School of Dentistry, created the textbook.] This book is one of the best-known books in the field and showed me early in my career about the tradition and reputation of the school. In addition, throughout the following years, I met some esteemed UNC Adams School of Dentistry faculty that told me about the programs that were available to international students. Therefore, when I was searching for a place to continue my academic formation, UNC was for sure a strong option.
Tell us about your research.
My research involves dental materials and clinical techniques applied to restorative dentistry. My master’s thesis analyzes optical properties of the materials we use to restore teeth in the front area of the mouth when they get fractured or damaged. These materials are bonded to the tooth but in order to make the restoration blend with the tooth you need skills and a very particular technique. Moreover, the materials vary a lot in composition and optical properties so my research work will serve as a guide in order to know these properties better and help clinicians understand the subtleties of each specific material/brand available in the market.
What are some of your favorite places and things to do in your home country?
My home country has a very unique geography. It is very long from north to south, offering landscapes that range from one of the driest deserts on Earth to a very rainy and cold rainforest in Patagonia with volcanoes and lakes. The country is also unique in the sense of having very tall mountains to the east (the Andes) and the Pacific Ocean to the west, which allowed me to enjoy and get familiar with the outdoors. I would say my favorite places to visit in my country are the hot springs and the lake/volcano areas of the south of Chile. I usually go there with my family and friends to spend a few days on vacation. I also enjoy art and photography, so I usually do painting/photography tours in those locations as well.
What are you hoping to accomplish with your Carolina degree?
After finishing the master’s program, I am hoping to get a faculty position at a dental school. The master of science degree is always desirable to get into academia, both for the acquired skills in the clinical and the research field.