Dentistry professors Benson, Dechow named newest Texas A&M Regents Professors

January 27, 2014

Byron Benson, D.D.S., and Paul C. Dechow, Ph.D., with the Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry (TAMBCD) are Texas A&M Health Science Center’s (TAMHSC) latest recipients of the prestigious Regents Professor Award. They will be honored at the Jan. 29, 2014, meeting of The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents in Galveston, Texas. 

Byron Benson, D.D.S.

Byron Benson, D.D.S.

Established in 1996, the Regents Professor Award is bestowed annually by the Board of Regents in recognition of the awardees’ exemplary contributions to their university or agency and to the people of Texas.

Benson is professor and vice chair of the Department of Diagnostic Sciences and director of the radiology/imaging center at TAMBCD in Dallas.  He is an internationally respected leader in the dental specialty of oral and maxillofacial radiology, having been elected by his peers as president of both the American Academy of Oral & Maxillofacial Radiology and the American Board of Oral & Maxillofacial Radiology. He currently serves on the Board of Commissioners for the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation. His areas of research include radiation risk assessment and diagnostic outcomes of advanced imaging systems.

“This is a wonderful and humbling privilege to join the other distinguished recipients of this career culminating award,” Benson said.  “I have found it very satisfying to interact with peers, students and staff in providing an excellent educational foundation to dentists, dental specialists and dental hygienists for practice, academics and research.  I appreciate the encouraging atmosphere of excellence and academic camaraderie of this institution.”

Benson received his Master of Science from the University of Texas Health Science Center and Doctorate of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) from the University of Iowa. He joined the TAMBCD faculty in 1987, and currently serves as the graduate program director for oral & maxillofacial radiology.  During the last three years, Benson was integral in developing, planning and coordinating the construction of the dental school’s new state-of-art imaging facility, which includes the predoctoral radiology clinic and the postdoctoral/extramural Oral and Maxillofacial Imaging Center.

“Dr. Benson inspires enthusiasm in his students and particularly enjoys one-on-one clinical teaching scenarios,” said John M. Wright, D.D.S., Regents Professor and chair of diagnostic sciences at TAMBCD. “He consistently updates the radiology curriculum to include new technology and incorporates innovative educational experiences for students. Under his leadership, our college’s imaging facilities have set the standard and have been emulated internationally.”

Paul C. Dechow, Ph.D.

Paul C. Dechow, Ph.D.

Also receiving the Regents Professor Award is Dr. Paul C. Dechow, professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences at TAMBCD. Dechow’s research interests include the growth, adaptation, and evolution of the craniofacial skeleton and related soft tissues, with his current research focused on the structural properties, biomechanics and modeling of the craniofacial skeleton. His research has been supported by agencies such as the National Institute of Health and the National Science Foundation. During his tenure with the college, Dechow has been heavily involved in two main areas of the department’s predoctoral teaching program: human gross anatomy and evidence-based dentistry.

 “Dr. Dechow has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment toward the education of the graduate students in our department and has been very effective as a mentor of many,” said Kathy Svoboda, Ph.D., Regents Professor and graduate program director in biomedical sciences at TAMBCD. “His mentees have been successful at obtaining individual National Institute of Health and other grant funds to support their research as students and postdoctoral fellows.”

After completing his undergraduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania, Dechow earned a Ph.D. in Anatomy from the University of Chicago. He joined the TAMBCD faculty in 1986.

“I wish to thank the Regents for their consideration of me for this award,” Dechow said. “Knowing the quality of the past recipients, I am humbled and much encouraged by this honor. I also acknowledge all of my outstanding colleagues and staff at Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry, who every day encourage me to do my best in our mutual goal of producing high quality dentists for the state of Texas.”

Award recipients are designated as Regents Professors for the duration of their service or employment within the A&M System, provided a $9,000 stipend payable in $3,000 increments over three consecutive years, and receive a special medallion bearing the seal of the A&M System and a certificate signed by the Chancellor and the chairman of the Board of Regents.

Drs. Benson and Dechow join the growing list of now 31 TAMHSC faculty members to receive this distinction as Regents Professor Award holders.  

— Zoe Clement

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