The unprecedented year of 2020, which was supposed to be a year of optometry and good vision, tested the postgraduate students at the School of Optometry and Vision Science, UNSW, who faced its challenges with smiles and emerged victorious. Staying six feet apart and physically distanced, yet closer than ever, postgraduate candidates ended the year with thesis submissions and awards, virtual conferences, papers published and national and international grants and awards.
Six postgraduates were awarded their PhDs and five others submitted their thesis this year.
Postgraduates attended over a dozen of major global conferences, most of them virtually, across a range of research focus including public health, imaging and applied optics, cornea and ocular surface, and microbiology in eye and vision science. In addition, postgraduates participated in several university, national and global events including U21 Global Citizenship 202O; Industry Mentoring Network in STEM (IMNIS); and UNSW Faculty of Science One-minute thesis.
Staying steadfast in their commitment to research, postgraduates published over two dozen papers in high-ranking journals and other media. The publications reflect the diversity of research and global collaboration at the School of Optometry and Vision Science, including in the areas of myopia, ocular surface, public health, ocular diseases, vision science, and microbiology, among others.
Several prestigious awards recognised students’ research and academic excellence. Five postgraduates were admitted to the AAO Fellowship this year. Postgraduates were also recognised for their contribution to equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts at UNSW Sydney. The awards from American Academy of Optometry; Cornea and Contact Lens Society Australia; Public Health Association of Australia; UNSW ARC Postgraduate Council; Optical Society of America; and UNSW Sydney highlight the student contribution to science and society during a seemingly fallow year.
In the annual postgraduate conference 2020, students presented their research projects across a range of topics. The PG-club, held every Thursday, provided a diverse learning opportunity in a wide range of areas of research and PhD life. The postgraduates selected their new representatives and had a year-end picnic to celebrate the end of a rather surreal year and welcome 2021.
Thesis Submissions and Awards
Thesis submissions: Mahjabeen Khan, Hind Alzahrani, Revathy Mani, Matthew Green, Sally Alkawajah
PhD awards: Ingrid Ornella Mekountchou Koumbo, Divya Ashari Kandy, Jessie Huang, Deepak Bagga
- Virtual British Congress of Optometry and Visual Science
- ARVO Baltimore 2020
- Australian Public Health Conference, Public Health Association of Australia 2020
- American Academy of Optometry, Annual Meeting 2020
- SHP Implementation Science Symposium
- 2020 IEEE Symposium Series on Computational Intelligence
- 2020 OSA Imaging and Applied Optics Congress
- Cornea and Ocular Surface Biology and Pathology Gordon Research Conference
- Microseq 2020, The Australian Society for Microbiology (ASM), Vic Branch
- Liu XN, Naduvilath TJ, et al. Sleeping late is a risk factor for myopia development amongst school-aged children in China. Sci Rep. 2020 Oct 14;10(1):17194.
- Jagadeesh D, et al. Posterior segment conditions associated with myopia and high myopia. Clin Exp Optom. 2020 Nov;103(6):756-765.
- Chiang JCB, et al. The impact of anticancer drugs on the ocular surface. Ocul Surf. 2020;18,403-417. 10.1016/j.jtos.2020.03.008;
- Issar T, Tummanapalli SS, et al. Associations between acute glucose control and peripheral nerve structure and function in type 1 diabetes. Diabet Med. 2020.
- Ambika S, Atiya A, Mani R et al., Visual profile of Acquired Brain Injury in Indian Cohort: A retrospective study. Brain Injury 2020.
- Gyawali, R et al. Quality of 2019 American optometric association clinical practice guideline for diabetic eye care. Ophthalmic Physiol Opt. 2020.
- Gyawali, R et al. Quality of the National Health Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Diabetic Retinopathy in Australia. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2020;61(7):1607.
- Shrestha GS, et al. Understanding clinical and immunological features associated with Pseudomonas and Staphylococcus keratitis. Contact Len Anterior Eye, 2020
- Kekunnaya, R., et al. Ocular structural changes in patients with Duane retraction syndrome: Does a correlation exist? Indian Journal of Ophthalmology 68, 2196-2198.
- Adhikari B, et al. Potential roles of medicinal plants for the treatment of viral diseases focusing on COVID‐19: A review. Phytotherapy Research. 2020 Oct 9.
- Yadav UN, Rayamajhee B, et al. A syndemic perspective on the management of non-communicable diseases amid the COVID-19 pandemic in low-and middle-income countries. Frontiers in Public Health. 2020 Sep 25;8:508.
- Chidi-Egboka NC, et al. Dry eye symptoms in children: can we reliably measure them? Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics 2020 Nov 22.
- Chidi-Egboka NC, et al. Dry eye symptoms in children: Can we reliably measure them? Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 2020; 61(7), 121-121.
- Golebiowski B, et al. Smartphone Use and Effects on Tear Film, Blinking and Binocular Vision. Current Eye Research, 2020; 45(4), 428-434.
- Trinh M, et al. Macula Ganglion Cell Thickness Changes Display Location-Specific Variation Patterns in Intermediate Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2020;61(3):2.
- Trinh M, et al. Modelling normal age-related changes in individual retinal layers using location-specific OCT analysis. [accepted 2020 Scientific Reports].
- Luu W et al. A holistic model of low vision care for improving vision-related quality of life. Clin Exp Optom. 2020;103(6):733-41.
- Kim J, Luu W, et al Multisensory integration and the experience of scene instability, presence and cybersickness in virtual environments. Comp Hum Behav. 2020;113:106484.
- Chen E, Luu W, et al. Virtual reality improves clinical assessment of the optic nerve. Front virtual real. 2020;1.
- The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) International Travel Grant, ARVO Baltimore, 2020 (Jeremy Chung Bo Chiang, Vincent Khou)
- Ezell Fellowship Travel Grant Award for 2020 ARVO, Baltimore (Revathy Mani and Rajendra Gyawali)
- Conference Registration Support, GRC, Italy, 16-21, February 2020 (Gauri Shrestha)
- UNSW Postgraduate Research Student Support (PRSS) to attend ARVO 2020, Baltimore (Ngozi Chidi-Egboka)
- 2020 William C. Ezell (Rod Tahran / Essilor) Fellowship from the American Academy of Optometry Foundation (Rabia Mobeen)
- Faculty of Science Writing Scholarships (Karen Lahav Yacouel, Divya Ashari Kandy)
- NSW Branch Scholarship for Australian Public Health Conference 2020, Public Health Association of Australia; (Jeremy Chung Bo Chiang)
- Best presentation in Optometry and Vision Science, UNSW Science 1 Minute Thesis Competition and Postgraduate Showcase, UNSW Sydney; (Jeremy Chung Bo Chiang)
- Best presentation in the Annual Postgraduate Conference, School of Optometry and Vision Science, UNSW Sydney (Jeremy Chung Bo Chiang)
- 2020 UNSW Arc Postgraduate Outstanding Higher Degree Research Student Award & 2020 HDR Thesis Completion Scholarship Award (Revathy Mani, Sidra Sarwat)
- 2020 OSA Student Award Finalist (Nahida Akter)
- Fellowship, American Academy of Optometry (Gauri S Shrestha, Melinda Toomey, Fatima Iqbal, Ngozi C. Chidi-Egboka)
- Joe and Janet Barr Early Career Cornea and Contact Lens Research Award from American Academy of Optometry Foundation (2020) (Sidra Sarwat)
- Dorothy Carlborg CCLSA Research Award 2020 (Fatima Iqbal)
- Faculty of Science, Equity Diversity and Inclusion Award 2020 (Fatima Iqbal, Eman Alzghoul, Ashleigh Chandra)
- U21 Global Citizenship, Common Purpose & Universitas 21, 2020 (Jeremy Chung Bo Chiang, Revathy Mani, Rajendra Gyawali, Fatima Iqbal, Ngozi Chidi-Egboka, Binod Raymajhee, Gauri Shrestha, Wilson Luu)
- Selected for 2020 ARVO Mentorship Programme (Revathy Mani, Sidra Sarwat)
- ACO Certificate in Public Health and Leadership in Eyecare (Melinda Toomey)
- Collaborative research grant from the University Grants Commission (UGC), Nepal for project on COVID 19. Role: Co-PI (Binod Rayamajhee)
- International Conference Organizing Committee Member, Society for Applied Microbiology, U.K. (Binod Rayamajhee)
- Little sister, NSW Women in Life Sciences, AusBiotech and Medicines Australia 2020 (Ngozi Chidi-Egboka)
- Mentee, UNSW International Student & Alumni Mentor Network 2020 (Fatima Iqbal, Ngozi Chidi-Egboka)
- HDR Peer Mentoring Program by Graduate Research School (Fatima Iqbal)
- Industry Mentoring Network in STEM (IMNIS) (Mentee) (Azadeh Tavakoli)
- UNSW Professional Development Program (Azadeh Tavakoli)
UNSW Faculty of Science One-minute thesis: 10 students participated in the faculty-wide one-minute thesis. The school’s winner was Jeremy Chiang (pictured below).
The Industry Mentoring Network in STEM (IMNIS): provides PhD student mentees the opportunity to increase their understanding of the industry sector, strengthen their skills to be successful within any part of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), including health and medicine sector, and extend their professional network in a one-year industry mentoring program. (Azadeh Tavakoli, Zahra Tajbakhsh, Rabia Mobeen, Madeeha Afzal)
Postgrad club continues to run weekly on Thursday's from 4-5PM. We started the year with face-to-face sessions but moved to virtual sessions in March 2020. This meant that our students currently overseas could also attend. A wide range of fantastic speakers and topics have been presented there this year including:
- How to answer questions following an academic presentation: Maria Markoulli
- Postgraduate fellowships: Mark Willcox
- The state of global eye health: Judith Stern
- Monthly statistical workshops: Nancy Briggs
- Pre-Beginner's Mini-Workshop on Monte Carlo Simulation: Arthur Ho
- Pitching your ideas to industry: Peter Simmons
- Xcel for postgrads: Fabian Conrad
- Studying overseas: Simin Masoudi
- UNSW entrepreneurial initiative for PhD candidates: Dina Titkova and Melissa Pye
- Coffee with an academic: Sieu Khuu, Fiona Stapleton, Mark Willcox, Isabelle Jalbert, Nicole Carnt, Craig Woods
- How to prepare a CV and cover letter: Vanessa Bakhos
- The importance and how-to of document, thesis and ppt slide formatting: Fabian Conrad
- Data visualization, data transformation, choice of statistical tests, statistical model building: Thomas John Navidulath
- 10 tips for structuring papers: Judith Flanagan
- How to use R: Jerome Ozkan
- Building a research career and making choices that lead down the pathway of success: Konrad Pesudovs
- How to use twitter: Nicola Kapo
- How to gain new skills post PhD: Ling Lee
- How to use Endnote: Alex Hui
- Ethical research: Leonne Thompson
- Ethical publishing: Ari Grant
- Tracking your research with Publons: Vincent Khou
- Welcome to Medicine: Vlado Perkovic
- What I wish I knew before starting my PhD: Jessie Huang and Divya Ashari Kandy
- ROC analysis: Nancy Briggs
- How to manage your supervisor: Fiona Stapleton
- How to review a paper: Eric Papas
We thank all those who volunteered their time to present at our Postgrad Club.
Annual Postgraduate Conference
The 2020 annual postgraduate conference was held on 10-14 August 2020 at UNSW Sydney. Thirty-four students presented their research findings across a range of topics including public health, myopia and glaucoma studies, dry eye disease, systemic disease and the eye, and a total of 41 were interviewed as part of the review process. The reviews are always a great opportunity to find out the array of research currently being undertaken by research students at the School of Optometry and Vision Science. Many thanks to the following members of the School of Optometry and Vision Science community who served as panellists:
- Eric Papas
- Mark Willcox
- Jackie Tan
- David Pye
- Nina Tahhan
- Judith Flanagan
- Barbara Zangerl
- Lisa Nivison-Smith
- Ajay Vijay
- Vinod Maseedupally
- Simin Masoudi
- Pauline Kang
- Isabelle Jalbert
Congratulations to the following students for their awards during the conference:
- Photo competition winner: Hari Peguda, Title: Amoeba love
- Highly recommended image: Rajendra Gyawali, Title: Barriers to diabetic eye care
- Video competition winner: Nahida Akter, Title: 3D ONH Large Vascular Anatomy
- Best presentation: Jeremy Chiang
New postgraduate representatives
This year we thanked Wilson Luu, Rabia Mobeen and Nicole Liu for their service as postgraduate representatives and welcomed Hari Peguda, Rajendra Gyawali, Praveen Bandela and Wilson Luu (reinstated) as the incoming representatives.
In 2020 the School of Optometry and Vision Science enrolled its first MPhil students. The MPhil is a 1.5 year degree that incorporates coursework and a research project. The completion of an MPhil equates to honours equivalency. You can learn more about that here: https://www.optometry.unsw.edu.au/sites/default/files/documents/conditionsMPhilpolicy.pdf
Are you interested in undertaking postgraduate research? Our school offers a structured postgraduate program consisting of in-house research seminars, developing students’ methodological, statistical and research skills, and access to the internationally recognised researchers, who provide their expertise, knowledge, advice and guidance. You can learn more about our postgraduate program here: https://www.optometry.unsw.edu.au/study/postgraduate-research
Associate Professor Maria Markoulli
Director of Postgraduate Research, and
Dr Anne Barnes,
Teaching Support Officer and
Postgraduate Research Student Representative