Scientist of the week

Nicole Capozziello

Scientist of the week is sophomore Torrin Thatcher, who has the long-term goal of entering the world of dentistry. I swallowed my fear to interview Thatcher, who eased my pre-conceived qualms about dentists. I had previously thought of them as cruel, jabbering and slightly crazy.
Though he has yet to declare his major, Thatcher is on the biochemistry track, with plans of attending dental school after graduation in 2010. Before choosing to attend Lawrence, Thatcher considered going to school for sports journalism, an interest he has kept up while at school. He has looked into some dental schools, which vary in specialty and don’t require a specific undergraduate major. He currently isn’t leaning toward a particular one but does know, however, that he wants to go into either orthodontia or oral surgery. This choice hinges upon personal experience as well as personal preference. “I don’t care much for cleaning other people’s teeth,” admitted Thatcher.
In the summer of 2006, Thatcher had surgery on his jaw, correcting the underbite condition that he inherited from his father. Thatcher’s jaw was re-aligned and then wired shut for six weeks. His younger sister, who inherited the same condition, also underwent the operation. Thatcher observed and was inspired by the changes the surgery brought about in both of their lives. “It really effected and bettered our lives,” said Thatcher of the surgery, which impacted his speech and facial appearance.
This summer, Thatcher will return to his hometown of Whitewater, Wis. He will continue to work on the dairy farm he grew up on, while also job shadowing Dr. Robert Conlon, the oral surgeon who operated on him. Conlon is among the top oral surgeons in the state and brings many years of experience — he performed a similar surgery on Torrin’s uncle over 25 years ago! Thatcher will not only be observing the surgeries themselves but will witness the patient meetings and planning that precedes such work. Thatcher is looking forward to seeing the whole process from the observer perspective.