Professor Chris Louca joins the Faculty in July as the new Director and Head of the Dental Academy. He was previously Head of Education, Director Department of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and Programme Director MSc Restorative Dental Practice, at UCL Eastman Dental Institute in London. We spoke to Chris to find out about him and his new role.
Welcome to the Academy, Faculty and university! Can you give a brief overview of your professional and academic background?
I initially qualified at King’s College London with a BDS in Dentistry and a BSc in Physiology, followed by a PhD in Neurophysiology. Early hospital posts in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at St George’s and King’s College hospitals in London were followed by appointments as Lecturer in Conservative Dentistry, Senior Lecturer in Primary Dental Care and Director of the Dental Hygiene and Therapy School, at King’s College London Dental Institute.
At UCL Eastman Dental Institute I was Principal Clinical Teaching Fellow, Departmental Graduate Tutor for Education within the UCL Faculty of Medical Sciences and Postgraduate Dental Tutor for the former London Deanery. I also held a clinical appointment within the Eastman Dental Hospital (part of the UCL Hospitals Health Trust), where I treated complex prosthodontic and restorative cases with a particular interest in the use of dental implants to replace missing teeth.
What are your areas of expertise as regards both teaching and research?
I have over 25 years’ experience of both teaching and research in dentistry. I have taught undergraduate and postgraduate dental students, dental nurses, dental hygienists and dental therapists. I am supervising a PhD in dental education and I have supervised over 60 MSc projects over the last 9 years. I have led the development of several new and innovative non degree based courses including online courses, short CPD courses, Overseas Registration Examination (ORE) revision courses & London Deanery courses, at UCL Eastman CPD. I recently initiated a collaboration with the British Association of Dental Therapists to deliver dedicated courses for dental hygienists and therapists. In addition, I have led the development of overseas courses for dentists in various countries. I have led the development of a part-time flexible master’s in restorative dentistry at UCL Eastman Dental Institute and I have introduced new innovative methods of assessment (e.g. online Moodle based assessment & reflective diaries). In 2015 I received an International Mature Teachers award for Excellence in Dental Education from the Association for Dental Education in Europe (ADEE).
My research interests are currently in dental education and prosthodontic/restorative dentistry. I am interested in student assessment and feedback, the role of mental imagery in the learning of practical skills, the development & evaluation of novel teaching techniques (e.g. ‘flipping’), the impact of PG teaching on clinical practice and the training requirements of vocational dental practitioners. I present my work regularly at the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) and Association for Dental Education in Europe (ADEE) conferences.
What challenges lie ahead for the Dental Academy that you look forward to tackling?
The Dental Academy has been successfully training dental nurses, dental hygienists and therapists for many years. The most immediate challenge is the imminent change in government funding for these programmes and how this will be managed in order to allow our programmes to flourish and develop further. Additional challenges include the need to diversify activity within the academy to include the provision of more CPD courses and postgraduate programmes of study and to significantly increase research activity. One of the great strengths of UPDA is the excellent team of dedicated academic and professional staff and I look forward to working with them in order to steer the Academy into new, innovative and exciting areas of activity.
As a newcomer, what impression do you have of Portsmouth the city and its university?
My initial impressions of both the city and university are very positive. Having spent all of my professional life in London-based Russell Group universities it is refreshing to work in a coastal city which is smaller, quieter, less congested and undoubtedly healthier than London; and in a university which is clearly aspirational, ambitious and forward looking and prepared to invest in its estates infrastructure and staff.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
My professional and academic activities have tended to dominate my life but I am acutely aware of the importance of a good work life balance. I have a family with 3 daughters who take up much of my spare time. I enjoy our annual family holidays in Cyprus. I enjoy swimming and take part in the annual Swimathon swimming marathon.