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Dr. Robert Spears - 25 Years

Dr. Robert Spears
Biomedical Sciences

Dr. Robert Spears
Dr. Robert Spears

Taking all the great moments from 25 years and gleaning them down to one wasn’t easy for Dr. Robert Spears; it was nearly impossible. He managed to settle on two—one personal and one professional.

Professionally, achieving tenure was a huge moment for Spears because of what it signified: how far he’d come, what he’d done up to that point and his value to Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry. Personally, it was a quiet moment with a student at graduation that Spears considers most rewarding. The graduation in and of itself was a moment the student thought might not come.

“I was overwhelmed by the enormity of it all,” Spears says. “Sometimes it is easy to forget how much of an impact we have on the students, and this moment brought home to me that thought. I now try to remember that in my day-to-day dealings with students.”

In the quarter-century since Spears was hired as a research technician, he’s seen TAMHSC-BCD transform into an institution that works closely with the student body. This creates a positive dental school experience, and most importantly, a quality educational process. In his current role as associate professor and director of student research, Spears’ daily interaction with students has been a source of constant joy.

“Getting to teach and do research lets me have the best of both worlds and at the same time, give back to others,” he says.

Spears in the lab
Spears in the lab.

An anatomist by training, Spears teaches at all three levels—dental, dental hygiene and graduate courses—in gross anatomy and histology. He also is course director for oral histology and directs the student research program, including the summer research and a dental scholars program. His area of research focuses on how the nervous and immune systems interact during pain and inflammation, with particular emphasis on the temporomandibular joint.

Spears has no interest in the “grass on the other side of the fence” because he’s been happy at TAMHSC-BCD since the day he started. He feels privileged to work with the people in his department, to benefit from the administration’s support and to be associated with a clinical faculty that does an outstanding job of developing dental graduates.

“TAMHSC-BCD has been very good to me, allowing me to progress through the ranks and make something of myself,” Spears says. “I think the college does things the right way and I have been fortunate to work with people I really enjoy being around.”

Spears describes life as great and never dull with his high school sweetheart and wife of 30 years, Jo Spears, project director in research and graduate studies. They have two sons and a daughter.

Now that his youngest child is in college, Spears finds that he has more time available, time that was once devoted to his kids’ activities. That time is now filled with hiking, camping, sports and cooking. He loves caring for and experimenting with an extensive vegetable garden as well.

Spears isn’t so sure that his teaching abilities have applied when it comes to rearing his kids.

“I’d like to think I have imparted some wisdom upon my children but every day shows me that isn’t the case,” Spears says. “Fortunately, they have taken after their mother.”

Spears and Dean James Cole
Spears (right) at the 2011 Service Awards with Dr. James Cole, dean.