Postgraduate Coursework News

Postgraduate coursework 2020 wrap-up: online learning, lockdowns, Zoom calls and wonderful students.

What an unexpected year 2020 has been for our postgraduate coursework students!

Little did we know that our lovely morning tea introduction in mid-February would be our last chance to meet as a group in person.  Looking back, I am so grateful that we could meet and welcome our new international students who had just arrived from China, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Taiwan. 2020 was particularly tough on this cohort who arrived in Sydney just in time for the Pandemic lockdowns! They have shown themselves to be a wonderfully resilient, pro-active and friendly group, and have made impressive contributions to our social Zoom calls (who knew we had recruited such musical talents!), and to the regular online PG Club while becoming well-integrated members of the School’s research groups.

postgrad group

In 2020, we bid goodbye to a handful of graduating MOptom students including Tashy Sherpa and Abdulla Altamimi who have returned to Nepal and Saudi Arabia respectively, and Sukanya Jaiswal who has begun her PhD journey. The School is very proud to add this group to our alumni.

In June 2020 we welcomed over 20 optometrists from all over Australia into our new online Graduate Certificate in Optometry, as part of the Australian Government’s Higher Education package. Recent and not-so-recent graduates have had the opportunity to upskill and obtain a taste of UNSW offerings in areas ranging from ocular disease and therapeutics to myopia management.

The Gradate Certificate in Ocular Therapeutics students faced some challenges this year due to the pandemic limiting clinical placements. We are hopeful that they will be able to complete these placements and have their certificates become therapeutically endorsed in 2021.

postgrad zoom

In 2021 I hand over the reins to Dr Vinod Maseedupally and Associate Professor Juno Kim, who will together coordinate postgraduate courses at the School of Optometry and Vision Science.  I am very pleased to stay connected with the School’s postgraduate community and will coordinate the MOptom research projects from 2021 onwards. On that note, I would like to extend a huge thank you to Associate Professor Michele Madigan, who has been a wonderful and very generous convenor of the coursework research projects for the past decade. The introduction to research provided by these projects and by A/Prof Madigan’s thoughtful guidance has started off many a research career.

Associate Professor Blanka Golebiowski,
Director of Postgraduate Coursework

Previous Visitors to the school

2019

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Academic staff at the School welcomed a number of visitors during 2019.

During February 2019 we welcomed to the School Professor Kiyofumi Matsuda from the Optical Information Processing and Systems Engineering Lab, The Graduate School for the Creation of New Photonics Industries, Japan and an Emeritus Professor at Tokyo Institute of Technology. Professor Matsuda was hosted by Dr Maitreyee Roy. He is a distinguished researcher in the field of optical imaging and processing and last year was presented with Conferment of a Decoration, by Japanese emperor and Prime minister Abe for his contribution to science. Professor Matsuda and Dr Roy are currently working on collaborative research on “Hard x-ray digital holography for visualising transparent phase objects”. 

Professor Matsuda and Dr Maitreyee Roy

In April 2019 Associate Professor Jennifer Craig, an academic from the University of Auckland visited SOVS. Associate Professor Craig is an international expert on dry eye disease having co-chaired the 2018 TFOS DEWSII Workshop. SOVS was honoured to have Associate Professor Craig visit us and present a Vaegan Seminar. During her visit she worked on a range of topics relating to dry eye disease and meibomian gland dysfunction and with a range of academics including Professor Eric Papas, Dr Maria Markoulli and Scientia Professor Fiona Stapleton. 

Dr Maria Markoulli and Dr Jennifer Craig

Dr Waleed Alghamdi visited SOVS in July 2019 as part of his sabbatical leave. Dr Alghamdi is the Head of the Department of Optometry at Qassim University, Saudi Arabia. He graduated with his PhD from UNSW in 2016 where he was supervised by Professor Eric Papas, the late Professor Brien Holden and Dr Maria Markoulli. Waleed's research revolves around dry eye disease and meibomian gland dysfunction. On his sabbatical visit he worked with Professor Eric Papas and Dr Maria Markoulli on understanding the impact that age has on the tear film. 

Dr Waleed Alghamdi, Dr Maria Markoulli and PhD Student Sultan Alotaibi

Dr Keiji Sugimoto, Manager at Menicon Japan and one of our longstanding research partners visited Scientia Professor Fiona Stapleton in October 2019 and toured the new biological science laboratories, clinical research facilities and myopia control clinic at the School of Optometry and Vison Science.

Dr Yukinobu Okajima from Toho University, Tokyo, Japan visited Australia in October 2019 to attend the ICCLC in Noosa and to visit speciality contact lens practices in Australia, particularly to learn about scleral contact lenses. He visited the biological science laboratories, clinical research and speciality contact lens clinics in the School of Optometry and Vision Science and met with our Japanese research fellows, Masahiro and Ritsue Nakagawa, Scientia Professor Fiona Stapleton, Dr Ajay Kumar and Dr Jackie Tan.

October was a busy month for visitors as Dr Nayuta Yoshioka, Dr Juno Kim and visiting researchers Masahiro and Ritsue Nakagawa hosted 16 students visiting from Meikei High School in Tsukuba, Japan as part of their international study tour. Topics discussed included an overview of the visual system, optometry as a profession and the difference in the eyecare system between the two countries. The importance of developing connections and abilities to collaborate with international partners was also emphasised. 

Meikei High School Students and Dr Nayuta Yoshioka

Dr Vijaya Gothwal from the LV Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad, India visited the School of Optometry and Vision Science during November 2019. She is working with Professor Lisa Keay on “Preventing falls in older people with vision impairment in India.”  Whilst here Dr Gothwal and Professor Keay also met with the Dr Michael Stevens from the Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering and Professor Stephen Lord and team from NeuRA to discuss investigating falls in older people. She also gave a workshop to staff and students on Rasch Analysis which was well attended

 

Dr Vijaya Gothwal, PhD Students and SOVS Staff

Dr Jacqueline Ramke from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine visited SOVS during mid-November 2019 to work on collaborative research in Public Health with Professor Lisa Keay and Associate Professor Isabelle Jalbert. Dr Ramke’s visit was funded through the Faculty of Science Visiting Fellowship scheme. Jacqui met with School of Optometry and Vision Science and UNSW collaborators in the School of Public Health and Community Medicine and gave a seminar on “How might we leave no-one behind in eye health?” 

Professor Lisa Keay and Dr Jacqueline Ramke

During the last week of November 2019 Year 10 students visited the Faculty of Science UNSW for ‘Work Experience Week’. The week included visits to various schools in the Faculty, including time at the School of Optometry and Vision Science. During this, the students visited the Optometry Clinic, enjoyed selecting frames and hands-on learning qualities of best-vision, comfortable glasses, visited the Sensory Processes Group and used virtual reality technology to understand how different senses work together, experienced how to do an eye test and looked at live eyes up close and magnified in the consulting room. They also engaged in some hands-on practical eye anatomy including checking pupil responses and tears and 'tear plumbing', very important for a healthy eye surface. To finish the week, the Faculty ran a Q&A and research panel, and each student presented a short talk and reflection on the week and overall experience at UNSW. The students all gave wonderful talks that highlighted how much they enjoyed a week of learning how exciting real-world science can be, meeting new people, and generally experiencing Science at UNSW. 

Year 10 Work Experience Students and A Prof Michele Madigan

2018

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School of Optometry, Makerere University visits SOVS

During July 2018 we were privledged to host our friends,Anguyo Dralega (Head, School of Optometry, Makerere University) and Godfrey Wanok (Student Representative) who visited our School and met with SOVS academics, students and UNSW representatives. The University of Makerere, Uganda, has developed a partnership with the Brien Holden Vision Institute and SOVS to establish an East African regional optometry program. During 2019 SOVS will send staff to Uganda to assist with teaching and curriculum development and in the future it is hoped that an exchange program will be initiated.

Geoffrey

ORLAB hosts the Colour Society of Australia, a UNSW Sydney Science Festival Event


On the 8th August, members of the Colour Society of Australia and general members of the public, attended an event called Colour and Vision, on the second day of the Sydney Science Festival. The evening opened with welcomes from the Director and Deputy Director of ORLAB (Dr Mei Ying Boon and Dr Maitreyee Roy) and the Chairperson of the Colour Society of Australia (David Briggs).

Next came a series of talks on the Nature of colour vision (by Dr Mei Ying Boon and Vanessa Honson), followed by the Occupational uses of colour and the colour vision Test Development activities of staff at ORLAB and the School (by Emeritus Prof. Stephen Dain). ORLAB has developed colour vision tests for railway workers and firefighters, and an ipad App which may be used to quantify reductions in colour sensitivity due to acquired colour vison deficiences, for example due to conditions such as diabetes, even in the absence of overt diabetic retinopathy or cataract in the eye. The final talk was on the multiple effects of "Blue-blocking lenses" on human physiology, and the variability of the blue filtering abilities of different brands of blue-blocking lenses currently avaialable on the market (by Dr Maitreyee Roy).

The attendees were treated to a tour of ORLAB facilities. Firstly, Muhammad Kalleem provided demonstrations of how traffic lights and other lights are measured. Next, Ash Ang and Olga Pitt demonstrated how spectral transmittance of eye wear is measured and how this information is used by Australian and International standards to calculate whether colours viewed through the eye wear are too distorted for viewing traffic lights and signals.

Next, attendees walked over to the UNSW Optometry clinic to learn how colour vision is assessed clinically, explained by Vanessa Honson. Attendees enjoyed testing their own vision against colour vision tests that pilots, electricians and railway workers have to pass prior to obtaining employment.  We all left learning something new. Some fun facts: it is difficult to enjoy a Portugal vs Mexico football match if the opposing teams are wearing red and green kits and you have a colour vision deficiency (as 8% of all males have), Isaac Newton and Thomas Young are giants in science, but also in our understanding of colour vision. Different wavelengths in the visible "blue" light spectrum have different physiological effects so be careful when you are choosing the tint of your eyewear, say the team from ORLAB, who love their eyewear.

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Clockwise from top left, Sydney Science Festival, Portugal vs Mexico as seen by people with normal trichromatic vision and people with dichromatic red-green colour vision deficiencies, the ORLAB team and three headforms used in the testing of eye protectors, measuring lights in ORLAB as demonstrated by M. Kalleem, Emeritus Prof. S. Dain speaking about occupational uses of colour vision, attendees testing their colour vision in the UNSW Optometry clinic and asking questions of staff.

Davood Kharaghani

Davood Kharaghani, from Iran, is a PhD student and research assistant at Nano Fusion Technology Research Group, Division of Frontier Fibers, Institute for Fiber Engineering (IFES), Shinshu University, Japan, working under supervision of Professor Ick Soo Kim. His research interests include biomaterials and their application in ophthalmic tissue engineering.

Davood visited Professor Mark Willcox and Dr Debarun Dutta at the School of Optometry and Vision Science, at UNSW Sydney earlier this year and his trip has been supported by Shinshu University. Davood worked closely with the researchers at the School on learning the domain of cell culturing and antibacterial testing. Davood has been collaborating with SOVS on the following projects: production and biocompatibility of artificial cornea, development of antibacterial bandage lens, and nanofiber scaffold for retinal applications. He is involved in designing and synthesis of composites for artificial cornea application which led to receiving a national patent and won the gold prize at the Seoul International Invention Fair (SIIF) in 2015.

Davood is confident that his visit will further strengthen strategic research collaborations between Shinshu University, Japan and UNSW Sydney.

Davood