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PDM Women's History

Dr. Carrie Kirk Bryant

Dr. Carrie Kirk BryantAssistant Professor of Microbiology & Bacterio-Pathology

Dr. Carrie Kirk Bryant was the first woman to become a standing member of the faculty at the School of Dental Medicine. Originally recruited as an Instructor of Bacteriology, she was promoted to the position of Assistant Professor of Microbiology & Bacterio-Pathology in 1926.Dr. Kirk Bryant was the daughter of Dean Dr. Edward C. Kirk (1895-1917).

Elisabeth Nordentoft




Crown and Bridge, Orthodontics Ceramics and Inlay advertisement featuring eleven headshots

Roberta Throne

Roberta Throne was a 1939 graduate of the Dental Hygiene program in 1939- see yearbook photo on the far left. She later returned to work at the University of Pennsylvania as an Assistant Professor of Oral Hygiene. The middle picture is her in the 1961 Hygenia yearbook. Roberta was the president of the Pennsylvania Dental Hygiene Association from 1970-1971. Far right is her appearance in the Hygenia yearbook.


(Special thanks to former library intern, Carly Schanock, for finding and scanning these images.)


In 1921, Dean Charles R.* Turner approved the establishment of the School of Dental Hygiene, whose chief administrative officer and faculty were to be staffed by members of the faculty of the Dental School. After completing a one-year training course, the student was awarded a certificate of proficiency. -From


"By the he late 1960s and early 1970s, the oral hygiene program was slated to close as the University eliminated non-degree programs. Penn Dental Medicine had been home to a program to train dental hygienists, which because the cuts would leave tenured faculty in dental hygiene without a role to play, the dental school’s dean at the time, Walter Cohen, saw an opportunity for them to contribute at Penn Vet. Soon, registered dental hygienist Roberta Throne began working at Penn Vet, instructing vets on the best way to ensure animals’ teeth were cleaned properly. 

“Dogs with raw mouths needed treatments, and often treatment consisted of extraction of teeth,” Dr. Harvey says. “At that time, extractions were done without appropriate equipment, because we did not know any better. The roots were left in and mouths ended up looking like warzones at the end of the procedures. There clearly was a need for improvement.”

Fortunately, the dental school was soon poised to offer more than intermittent advice. 

“The result of having her here was an immeasurable improvement in the standard of care we were able to provide for dogs that had severe periodontal disease that was not severe enough to require extractions,” says Dr. Harvey. “By the time Roberta retired, it was clear that a registered (human) dental hygienist was an essential part of the Penn Dental Service team.”

That team now has two registered dental hygienists on staff. Dr. Harvey says their presence “ensures not only excellent patient care, but also excellence in conducting research that requires meticulously detailed scoring of teeth.”



*R stands for root, Dr. Charles Root Turner. Great name for an orthodontist and a dean.

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