Tell us a little about yourself and why you decided to undertake a PhD at the School of Optometry and Vision Science, UNSW?
After graduating from my undergraduate studies in Optometry, I worked for one and a half years in Parramatta in corporate optometry. During my undergraduate studies at UNSW, I had admired my Lecturers’ knowledge, wisdom, and insightfulness. So, it was a natural choice to undertake my PhD at UNSW.
Who or what inspires you in life?
In his speech to Stanford University, Steve Jobs said, “You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward, so you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
As a PhD candidate, you go into your candidature not entirely sure what life after graduation looks like or even whether the PhD project plan will work out, but you press forward knowing that future-you will be able to figure it out.
Tell us about your research and why you decided to go into this area?
My PhD research at the Centre for Eye Health (CFEH) – supervised by Associate Professor Gordon Doig, Professor Michael Kalloniatis and Dr Angelica Ly – involves improving health literacy for patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is a leading cause of irreversible central vision loss in Australia, affecting one in seven people over the age of fifty.
I was motivated by the disappointing observation that, although there are many interventions are available for patients with AMD, these interventions are often poorly understood because of low health literacy. Each instance of health literacy represents a missed opportunity for medical knowledge to benefit patients. This is why we will be developing and evaluating an educational program to improve health literacy with respect to AMD.
What are your career plans once you graduate?
The PhD programme is teaching me how to be a scholar, and from what I have learnt so far, I believe that I would love to continue working as a scholar in an academic environment.
Do you have any advice for anyone who is thinking about undertaking a research degree?
Research takes a lot of time and patience. Doing research work is a very different pace compared to working as an optometrist. You need a lot of time to think as a researcher. While there are things which you may need to tick off your “to-do” list that you hope to finish within a certain time frame, sometimes things may take longer than you expect to complete something. It’s all part of the learning process.