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Dr. Paul Dechow - 25 Years

Dr. Paul Dechow
Biomedical Sciences

Dr. Paul Dechow
 Dechow with one of his collectors' items, a
 Royal Copenhagen piece in ceramic biscuit
 ware by Pia Langelund. 

Research, teaching and service provide the challenges that keep Dr. Paul Dechow going. He isn’t alone in his constant desire for improvement in intellectual endeavors and daily tasks, which is why the professor and vice chair of biomedical sciences at Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry enjoys his work environment.

“My duties have changed over time but always involve the academic trifecta of teaching, research and service,” says Dechow, who joined the college as an assistant professor 25 years ago.

Dechow is now course director for the D1 and D2 evidence-based dentistry courses and participates in the D3 EBD program. He also teaches several graduate courses and served as director of the biomedical sciences graduate program from 1995 until 2009, when he left that position to assume department vice chair responsibilities.

Dr. Dechow in lab
In the biomedical sciences lab.

In the research arena, Dechow works on several projects, including a National Science Foundation-funded examination of hominid craniofacial function and evolution and National Institutes of Health-funded research in the development of distraction osteogenesis devices and dental implants. He also manages the new microCT laboratory at TAMHSC-BCD and even finds the time to advise student researchers.

In addition to his departmental responsibilities, Dechow has served on several committees, most recently Appointment, Promotion and Tenure and the Committee on Committees. For the past five years, he has served as the college’s representative for the Clinical and Translational Science Awards grant at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Dechow has accrued many treasured memories during his tenure. A favorite from his early years at the college is the annual picnic the anatomy faculty would give for D1 students that was always much fun.

“I miss the hamburgers,” he says.

In more recent years, Dechow finds great pleasure when a dental student gives an outstanding presentation in EBD or when—in the lab—a graduate or post-doctoral student makes a discovery or has an important insight. Getting funding for a grant also evokes the best feeling of accomplishment, he says.

According to Dechow, the biggest change over the years has been in IT. He was the first in the college to buy what was then considered an odd piece of equipment called a laser printer—and he had to get special permission.

“It was a long haul to get Internet access in the college but now we wonder how we worked without it,” he says. “The quality and quantity of good science of all types has increased greatly.”

Dechow and his wife, Dr. Joanne Blum, have been married for 33 years. He is particularly proud of her work as a physician and oncologist specializing in breast cancer at Sammons Cancer Institute of Baylor University Medical Center. They have two children: Monica, 20, and Ian, 18.

When Dechow’s not busy shaping lives at TAMHSC-BCD, he builds furniture, kayaks and musical instruments in his shop. He also enjoys playing the guitar, singing and listening to audio books. His family loves to travel and visit their farm in Leelanau County, Michigan, twice a year. When there, Dechow spends time milling lumber, hiking, boating on Lake Michigan and researching family history.

 

Dr. Dechow and colleagues
From left to right: Dr. Robert Spears; Jeanne Santa Cruz; Dechow; and Dr. Rena D'Souza, all from biomedical sciences.