Dentistry Couple Leave Legacy of Leadership

06/02/02    Portland, Ore.

Kirk and Jessica Robertson will leave a virtually unequalled legacy of student leadership and volunteerism at OHSU's School of Dentistry.

Kirk started dental school at OHSU in 1998 and immediately distinguished himself: His research project on the use of mouth guards among athletes won him a national Warner Lambert Preventive Dentistry Award and scholarship.

His wife, Jessica, started work in the Department of Dental Materials the following year and entered the dental school in 2000. Working with Jack Ferracane, Ph.D., she studied the effects of microfillers and resin composition on the mechanical properties of dental composites. She presented her findings at the American Association of Dental Research meetings in 2000 and 2001.

In addition to working in the dental library and managing the 44-unit apartment building where they live, the couple has found time to volunteer and serve as student leaders. Kirk was the student body vice president and president of the Delta Sigma Delta fraternity. Jessica is president-elect of the fraternity, she is the delegate for her class to the American Student Dental Association, and she serves on the student council.

Perhaps most impressive, though, are the couple's volunteer activities. "Kirk and Jessica have both embraced the access-to-care issue passionately," said Sharon Turner, D.D.S., J.D., Dean of the OHSU School of Dentistry.

Both have volunteered at the school's Russell Street Clinic, which serves a large number of Hispanics. Fluent in Spanish, Jessica has worked as a translator at both the clinic and in Hood River with the Northwest Medical Team's dental van. Kirk has also volunteered his time with the van project, which provides ambulatory care to children with limited access to dental care.

"Many of these kids have no one in their corner," Kirk said. "It's worth my time to help these kids not hurt."

Jessica and Kirk also volunteer with the Special Olympics Special Smiles program, which offers free oral health screening to athletes.

So what's next for this hard-working couple? Kirk is off to California for a two-year pediatric dentistry residency at UCLA while Jessica completes her final two years of dental school at OHSU. Then they dream of sharing a pediatric and general dentistry practice, perhaps teaching in the dental school and maybe starting a family.

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