Vaegan Seminars

The Vaegan lecture series is an invited collection of seminars hosted by Associate Professor Juno Kim at the School of Optometry and Vision Science. The series is named in memory of a colleague and friend of the school, Vaegan, who passed away in 2008.

Vaegan was a long-standing academic at the school and world-renowned physiologist and clinical electrophysiologist. Our Vaegan seminars mostly continued in the new online delivery format during 2021, which has brought together speakers and audience members from across the globe. These events continue to be an excellent opportunity to learn about and discuss the work of colleagues in a wide range of areas in vision science and health.

We kicked off the year with Professor Levon Khachigian from School of Medical Sciences (UNSW Sydney) who showed how his team recently developed a small molecule approach that suppresses retinal vascular permeability in preclinical models relevant to AMD/pDR.

In March, Dr Kevin C. Chan (New York University) presented a seminar about his recent research on the development of novel methods for characterising and monitoring chronic glaucoma in the visual system can potentially lead to more timely intervention and targeted treatments.


In April, Associate Professor Kelvin Tsoi (Chinese University of Hong Kong) illustrated how quantifying the structure in line drawing produced by patients can be informative about Alzheimer’s disease.


In June, Associate Professor Stuart Perry (UTS) gave our first face-to-face Vaegan Seminar in the Rupert Myers Theatre at UNSW in the window between our Sydney COVID-19 restrictions and the end of June lockdown. His Vaegan seminar explains what happens behind the scenes in the governance of the JPEG image format and future standards for 3D visualisation data.


In July, Dr Vinay Aakalu (University of Illinois at Chicago) presented a Vaegan seminar on the development of new peptide-based strategies for addressing ocular surface diseases and injuries.



In August, Dr Sheela Kumaran (SOVS) presented a Vaegan seminar on better practices for the inclusion of patient-reported outcome measures and answered questions on how to develop, select and interpret questionnaire items based on scientific literature.

getting it right

In September, Professor Mark Willcox (SOVS) gave a Vaegan seminar on his team’s setup of a coronavirus testing facility in the microbiology laboratories at the School of Optometry and Vision Science (UNSW). He outlined how the laboratory designed new antivirals, as well as tested different disinfectants for their ability to kill the virus and ways of reducing transmission.


In October, Dr Shyam Tummanapalli (SOVS) presented a Vaegan seminar showing the importance of studying alterations in the concentration of tear film neuropeptides in relation to both corneal and peripheral neuropathy in people with diabetes.

In November, Professor Michael Bach presented a Vaegan seminar on the assessment of visual acuity and the many psychometric challenges involved.


You can view the abstracts and speaker biographies for all of these Vaegan seminars on our website (under previous events).

Please reach out if you are an alumnus who is interested in giving a presentation to our staff and students on your area of expertise.

Associate Professor Juno Kim, Vaegan Seminar Coordinator

What's happened



 The Vaegan lecture series are seminars coordinated by Associate Professor Juno Kim at the School of Optometry and Vision Science and are named in memory of a colleague and friend, Vaegan who passed away in 2008.

Vaegan was a long standing academic at the School and was an accomplished physiologist and clinical electrophysiologist. As with most things, our Vaegan seminars went online this year. We held seven seminars on Zoom which hosted academics from Australia, Canada, Japan and the United States. These events continue to be an excellent opportunity to learn about and discuss the work of colleagues in a range of areas.

Our first seminar was presented by Dr Hua-Chun Sun, a Postdoctoral Research Associate from UNSW’s Psychology school. She presented on the perception of surface properties’ material and texture and how fMRI can identify where these processes occur in the brain.

Hua Chun

In June, we hosted Dr Riccardo Natoli from the ANU medical school and the John Curtin School of Medical Research. He spoke about his laboratory’s studies of retinal microRNA and their role in retinal degeneration with the hope to develop novel therapeutics and diagnostics for treating retinal diseases like Macula Degeneration.

Riccardo Natoli

In the same month, Dr Murat Dogru, a practicing ophthalmologist and researcher at Keio University School of Medicine in Tokyo, presented on the environmental factors associated with oxidative stress – a factor in dry eye.

Dr Jason Charng from the Lions Eye Institute Australia at the University of Western Australia presented a fascinating talk titled "Analysing Stargardt Disease Progression via Deep Learning" in August.


Jason Charng

Dr Zoey Isherwood presented in July on the visual processing of natural statistical properties, especially the 1/fa amplitude spectrum which is common in nature. With data collected from fMRI scans, she suggests that the visual cortex is tuned to process stimuli with the natural 1/fa frequency.

In September, we hosted Dr Daniel Joyce a Postdoctoral Scholar in Psychology at the University of Nevada, Reno. He spoke about his research on recently discovered non-image forming visual pathways and the interactions between these pathways.

Professor Stuart Anstis from the University of California, San Diego, joined us in October. He presented findings from his study on the effects backgrounds have on our perception of objects’ motion and size.

Stuard Anstis

Finally, in November, Dr Jennifer Campos from the University of Toronto, spoke on multisensory self-motion perception in younger and older adults. Her research aimed to quantify the way in which inputs from multiple sensory modalities are integrated in the brain to support standing balance, walking, and driving.

Jennifer Campos

You can view the abstracts and speaker biographies for all of these Vaegan seminars on our website (under previous events).

Please reach out if you are an alumnus who is interested in giving a presentation to our staff and students on your area of expertise.





Our School had great representation at the most recent Association for Vision in Research and Ophthalmology (ARVO) Conference with 43 staff, visiting staff and students attending.

Klaus Blanka Fiona

Held for the first time in Vancouver, Canada, the school had a number of poster presentations and oral presentations.

Highlights from the conference include strong contributions from our early career researchers. PhD student Divya Jagadeesh was awarded an oral presentation and presented her recent work on predicting the progression of myopia in children. Dr Simin Masoudi was also invited to give an oral presentation and presented her work on hydrogel contact lenses, demonstrating differences in protein deposition between different lens types. Dr Lisa Nivison-Smith presented her work on using the new technology, OCT angiography to detect vascular changes in early age-related macular degeneration during the Retina poster session and her poster was flagged as a hot topic and selected for media release.

ARVO 2019 Group photo

Our new Head of School, Professor Lisa Keay also attended, presenting her work on the reducing the incidence of falls post cataract surgery. Dr Nicole Carnt also present work relating to the impact of visual impairment on patients, giving an oral presentation on her research developing predictors for poor quality of life amongst Acanthamoeba keratitis patients. Dr Carnt’s work which aims to help inform clinicians and lead to better coping strategies and was part of a session on Quality of life and patient experience also co-moderated by Dr Carnt.  

Lisa NS conference photo

As usual, SOVS also had a strong representation in the anterior eye and contact lens research field with poster presentations from Dr Ajay Kumar Vijay, Professor Fiona Stapleton and Dr Jacqueline Tan on the antimicrobial efficacy of multipurpose disinfecting lenses solutions, cosmetic contact lens-related corneal infections in Asia and the effect of Manuka eye drops on the tear film.

See here for a link to some of the posters which were presented.

Conference Posters



ARVO 2018 Wrap up

In April and May, 2018, the School of Optometry and Vision Science, UNSW, sent its largest delegation to date, to present at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) Annual Meeting in Honolulu, USA. Thirty-nine staff and students of the School took the opportunity to reconnect with research partners, industry collaborators, and friends from the far flung corners of the world, including at other medical, university and hospital and research institutes. 

Staff were involved in moderating and chairing scientific sessions, and presented to their peers in a wide variety of areas, including contact lenses, dry eye, presbyopia, novel diagnostics, visual fields, colour vision, immunology, ocular microbiome, amblyopia, visual electrophysiology, binocular vision and referral models.

The conference was in a location of great natural beauty, and many staff and students were fortunate enough to experience the Aloha culture and view the volcanoes, birds and sparkling waters and fish (the latter through a scuba mask) when the conference had closed. Quite dramatically, the end of the conference coincided with the first fault lines opening up in Kilauea in the big island of Hawaii.  




Vaegan Seminar Series

The Vaegan Seminar Series will commence again at the start of Semester 1, 2018. These seminars are held throughout the teaching year with guest lecturers from around Australia. The seminars are open to the general public, alumni, staff and students.

Topics vary from clinical research to hot topics in Optometry and Vision Science. Dates, timing and location for these seminars (which are held on the UNSW Kensington campus) will be posted via our website, the UNSW Faculty of Science website and through our social media channels, facebook and twitter (@UNSWOptomvsci). Follow and like us to be kept up to date of seminar details.

2018 Alumni Events Schedule

Please take some time to fill out the monkey survey to give us some feedback on what topics you would like our 2018 Alumni Evenings to feature. In 2017 we have had a great response to our alumni evenings and would like you to spread the word to your colleagues and fellow alumni. These evenings attract CPD points, are held on Tuesday nights after work, usually commencing around 6pm.