LaQuia A. Walker Vinson, D.D.S., M.P.H.

LaQuia A. Walker Vinson, D.D.S., M.P.H.Dr. Vinson is originally from Fort Wayne, IN. She attended Xavier University in Louisiana, where she received her bachelor’s in Chemistry, magna cum laude. Dr. Vinson received a D.D.S. from the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Dental Medicine in 2004 and an M.P.H. in informatics from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2010 after earning a Certificate in Pediatric Dentistry in 2004. She has continued her career development at Indiana University School of Dentistry (IUSD), receiving a Certificate in Online Teaching in 2013. Dr. Vinson is a Diplomat of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry and a full-time tenure-track faculty member who is engaged in teaching, research and extramural practice.

Dr. Vinson reflects on her career with a feeling that she “grew up around dentistry.” As an elementary school student, her father began dental school. He opened his general dentistry practice in Fort Wayne, and during high school she worked there after school. She initially considered a career in medicine, but during her junior year in college, she decided that medicine wasn’t her passion. Her interest became health care. After careful reflection and investigation, she chose dentistry. She specifically selected pediatrics as a specialty because she wanted to focus on prevention. The majority of what occurs with adult dentistry is trying to restore something to its normal form and function. She wanted her practitioner experiences to be maintaining original form and function and felt it could best be achieved by treating children.

Mentoring is a crucial and important part of her career. She has several mentors who play different roles in her academic and private practice life. She says “it is nice to have someone to turn to who understands where you are, be objective, as well as give you the support and encouragement that a life in academia requires.” Dr. Shar Faiadi has been an important mentor and influence in her career development.

The ADEA MDFD encouraged her to pursue an additional level of study. She knew she wanted to teach after completing her residency, but she had not strongly considered the possibility of a career in academia until starting the M.P.H. program. The M.P.H. program plays a huge part in how she works with residents in their research as well as how she creates a treatment plan. Her research has focused on presurgical orthopedics in cleft lip and palate and on pulp therapy in pediatric patients.

Working with millennials has caused a modification in her teaching strategies to include technology and accommodate different learning styles. She now continues to mentor both dental and postdoctoral dental students and commits time to the IUPUI STEM Scholars Institute.

Dr. Vinson’s motivation as a dentist, faculty member, and leader is student-driven. She finds the opportunity and ability to work with students fulfilling. Students challenge her to improve her teaching abilities and stay current on everything in the field. Being involved in different dental associations and committees also encourages her to do more to serve the profession.

Dr. Vinson summarizes her academic career as “providing an immense amount of fulfillment. I never thought I would enjoy it as much as I do!”