Health Sciences Services

June 29, 2023

Dr. Alice Ko, a 2023-2024 Magnuson Scholar, Featured in UW School of Dentistry News

Dr. Ko, who received her BS from UW in 2010 and her DMD from Tufts University in Boston in 2015, worked at a private practice in Tacoma for four and a half years before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. During her pause from the clinic, she decided to explore the field of research, leading to her pursuit of a PhD.

“It is an honor to be selected as a Magnuson Scholar,” said Dr. Ko. “I am happy to have the importance of my work affirmed and to have access to resources that will help fund my dissertation. I know that this is a highly prestigious award and am honored to represent the School of Dentistry through my work.”

Dr. Ko is particularly interested in understanding behavioral motivations regarding oral health decision making. She’s been involved in projects such as the acceptance of fluoride and reducing added sugars in adolescents.

“One project I am helping with is Dr. [Donald] Chi’s Alaska fruit drink study, which implements a community-driven behavioral intervention to reduce added sugar intake in Alaska Native children,” said Dr. Ko in her Scholar Profile. “Helping in various stages has taught me how to conduct community-driven behavioral research projects, which I am planning to utilize as my primary research method for my dissertation.”

Dr. Ko’s interest in research dates back to her undergraduate days. Before attending dental school, Dr. Ko assisted Dr. Chi with the study on fluoride acceptance that was eventually published in the American Journal of Public Health and served as pilot data for a R01 grant funded by the National Institutes of Health.

“As an undergraduate research assistant, Alice exhibited excellent interpersonal skills, demonstrating her ability to conduct high-quality interviews with parents,” said Dr. Chi, the School of Dentistry’s Associate Chair for Research and project leader for the fluoride study. “She was professional, interacted appropriately with clinic staff, asked good questions, and accurately collected the required data with minimal supervision. Now as a graduate student, she has continued to be an important contributor to our group’s research efforts.”

Dr. Ko currently works in a private dental office once a week, where she provides children and adult patients with a variety of basic and advanced treatments. Her part-time work in the clinic allows her to maintain her clinical skills and continue interacting with patients, which she very much enjoys.

All Magnuson Scholars help carry on the legacy of the late Senator Warren G. Magnuson and his remarkable commitment to improving the nation’s health through biomedical research, education, and responsive, sustainable healthcare discoveries. At least one scholar must be engaged in research related to diabetes, its antecedents or treatment.