Meet Distingushed Dental Hygiene Alumna Judy Danielson

Dean Keith Mays, Judy Danielson, and Shivan Nelson pose, with Judy Danielson holding a plaque

Judy Danielson, GDH ’77, BSDH ’80, MSDH ’13, is the 2021 recipient of the Distinguished Dental Hygiene Alumni Award at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry.

The Distinguished Dental Hygiene Alumni Award  is an honor given annually to outstanding alumni in recognition of exceptional achievement. Candidates must be a graduate of any program of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry and are judged based on their participation, service, and leadership in the advancement of dentistry and dental health, their public service, community service, and/or civic affairs, and their dedication to continuing education.

The School of Dentistry Alumni Society Honors Task Force chose Danielson based on her service to the community, her commitment to education and her research expertise.

“I remember sitting in a dental hygiene pre-clinic lab many years ago as a student, before I was even in the BSDH program, and thinking about how much I might enjoy teaching dental hygiene,” Danielson reflected as she received the award during Alumni Weekend. “And I’m happy to say that, yes, it worked out.”

Danielson is a dental hygienist and clinical professor in the Division of Periodontology at the School of Dentistry, where she has taught in various positions since 1999. She has also taught at the University of Colorado and Normandale Community College. Danielson is a member of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, the American Dental Education association, the Minnesota Dental Hygienists’ Association, the Minnesota Dental Hygiene Educators’ Association and the Omicron Kappa Upsilon Dental Honor Society.

Danielson is a dedicated educator whom students and colleagues trust to be a mentor and a confidant. She currently co-directs the Periodontology Technique course at the School of Dentistry with Elham Akhlaghi, DDS. In addition to her excellence in teaching and mentoring, Danielson makes it a point to engage her students in active learning, ensuring no one is left behind or disengaged. She has worked clinically and has advanced the field in research, including her involvement in a 2021 research study at the School of Dentistry to explore aerosol mitigation during ultrasonic instrumentation.

“Danielson goes above and beyond her responsibilities. She is patient and thorough in what she does,” reflected Akhlaghi, who nominated her for the award. “She has a big heart, and I’ve learned a lot from her during these years working with her.”

Though Danielson has a lot to be proud of, she takes the most pride in how she’s helped shape the next generation of oral health care providers.

“In my career, I’m most proud of the small part I’ve played in educating and preparing clinicians for the real world,” she said. “I’m especially overwhelmed when I see a dental student, or dental hygiene or dental therapy student, provide extra kindness and care to a patient in need.”

Get to know Danielson in the video below.