“Focus on one goal, be open minded and be persistent.”

These are wise words from Nelson Poliran Jr., a standout scientist-in-training at USC. Poliran’s academic success hasn’t always come easily, though.

After spending four years at community college receiving below average marks, Poliran earned admission to the University of California, Riverside (UCR). This is where he caught his stride. At UCR, Poliran studied cell, molecular and developmental biology.

In addition to course work, Poliran excelled in research. He accrued six years of experience in areas such as drug delivery, biomedical sciences and environmental engineering. Notably, Poliran innovated a novel way to discover pollutants in waterways.

Poliran will be graduating with a master’s degree in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine from the Keck School of Medicine of USC. He is researching how bone formation is regulated in craniofacial development and is interested in using stem cell-oriented approaches to develop therapeutic alternatives in dentistry.

“Ten years from now, bone regeneration will impact the dental field,” he said.

Recently, Poliran was accepted to the University of California, Los Angeles School of Dentistry’s DDS/PhD program in oral biology beginning in fall 2017. His goal is to apply novel biological remedies in dentistry — an alternative to traditional approaches that use synthetic materials that require long-term maintenance.

Poliran said that “all the hard work paid off,” but acknowledged that there is still a lot more to do. Success isn’t instantaneous, and many failures lead to achievement in ways unimaginable at the beginning of the journey.

— Charles Bramlett