Advancing a Profession

Tung Nguyễn leans against a table in a lab at the Adams School of Dentistry

Tung Nguyen, DMD (Photo by Megan May)

Tung Nguyen, DMD, is the Dr. Henry S. Zaytoun Sr. and Mrs. Martha N. Zaytoun Term Professor at the UNC Adams School of Dentistry. Nguyen’s research explores 3D imaging and printing to give orthodontists more efficient and effective ways to treat patients. He has also led award-winning research into skeletal anchorage Class III malocclusion (underbites) to reduce the need for surgery.

One formative lesson:
“My father would tell me and my brother never to come to him with a problem unless we had thought about a solution first. That has stayed with me. In my research and my teaching, I try to teach my students to problem-solve rather than follow a recipe.”

How a friend would describe him:
“A friend once told me that I could never be content with a push lawn mower because then I would want a power mower. If I had a power mower, I would want a riding mower. If I had a riding mower, I would want a mower with artificial intelligence. I don’t love technology. I love technology that leads to better outcomes or more efficiency.”

Why he chose academia:
“I hope my legacy will be that I changed the future of orthodontics, whether it’s the way students learn or the way patients get treatment. It’s why I think many of us are in academics. We want to find things that help make the next generation better than us.”

On gratitude:
“I’m appreciative of the opportunity I have to teach my students. I’m appreciative of the opportunity to advance a profession. I’m most appreciative of the generosity of donors like the Zaytouns. It can be hard to recruit and retain faculty. They make it possible for people like me to stay and develop things that are going to help society and help the public.”

Written by Drew Guiteras ’00

Named professorships, like the Dr. Henry S. Zaytoun Sr. and Mrs. Martha N. Zaytoun Term Professorship, support renowned scholars and propel research at Carolina. These privately funded endowments help attract and retain the academic leaders of today, ensuring a state-of-the-art education for all Tar Heels.

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