Greetings from the Head of School
It’s hard to believe that we are almost halfway through the year already! As you can see from our 2015 highlights we had a fantastic year. My thanks and congratulations to the dedicated team of academic and professional and technical staff at the School, our visiting committee and visiting staff who have done an outstanding job.
Highlights so far this year include the delivery of a remodelled Graduate Certificate in Ocular Therapeutics. This blended programme under the stewardship of Dr Alex Hui, offers flexible self-paced learning: pre-recorded lectures supported by regular live interactive webinars, facilitated online group discussions, and a face to face session for the final module with hands-on clinical skills development and interactive grand rounds.
We also offered for the first time this year a Clinical Doctorate. This postgraduate programme can be undertaken either part-time or full-time and is geared towards those in clinical practice.
Researchers at the School have been successful in gaining a number of external grants including Professor Mark Willcox and colleagues gaining an ARC Discovery Grant to research the effects of a novel immobilised antimicrobial peptide on bacteria; Associate Professor Michele Madigan with a MD Foundation award to understand immune mechanisms in AMD and a Retina Australia 2016 grant with her colleagues at ANU.
Dr Isabelle Jalbert was awarded a Blackmores Macular Disease Foundation Australia Research Grant. Dr Pauline Kang and Associate Professor David Pye were successful with the 2016 Orthokeratology Society of Oceania Scholarship to further their research methods of predicting the efficacy of myopic orthokeratology treatment. Kathleen Watt and colleagues were awarded the Victorian VOTE grant for analysing patient experience. We also congratulate staff who were successful through the internal UNSW grant schemes.
We also take this opportunity to thank Carl Zeiss Australia for donating Patriot head tracking units to the School. We are fortunate in the generosity of our stakeholders which supports the education of our students.
This year we welcomed Dr Pauline Kang who was appointed as Lecturer at the School. Pauline currently coordinates the Myopia Clinic at the UNSW Optometry Clinic and will contribute to undergraduate and postgraduate teachings in the areas of visual development and ocular diseases. We also welcomed back our Clinic Business Manager, Tracy Kane and farewelled Esther Lefas. We are delighted to welcome Debbie Huber to the UNSW Optometry Clinic team as she brings a wealth of experience to our Dispensing position and Katherine Wong who was appointed as a Research Optometrist into our Eye Research Team.
We farewelled Emeritus Professor Stephen Dain who stepped down as the Head of ORLAB to hand over the reins to Dr Mei Boon who has been appointed as Director and Dr Maitreyee Roy as Deputy Director. We thank him for his over-40 year service to the School and the profession and note we needed two people to replace him!
Since our last newsletter we were fortunate to have our staff acknowledged through a number of awards. Notably Professor Michael Kalloniatis and Ms Michelle Bonanno who were awarded Vice Chancellor Staff Awards from a very competitive field across the entire University and Sharon Oberstein who was highly commended in the category of Community Engagement and Vanessa Honson who was nominated. Dr Maria Markoulli was recognised with a Faculty of Science Staff Excellence Award: Recognition and Celebration of Excellence in Teaching.
Professor Mark Willcox was awarded a Doctor of Science and most recently Dr Pauline Kang was awarded the prestigious Jill and George Mertz Fellowship from the American Optometric Foundation. We also congratulate Dr Jerome Ozkan who was awarded a National Health and Medical Research Council Early Career Fellowship. Dr Edward Lum who was awarded a 2016 Endeavour Research Fellowship which he will undertake at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
We are also delighted to share that Dr Vinod Maseedupally and Dr Jenny Long gained their Fellowship of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) and I was successful in gaining my Diplomate for the Cornea, Contact Lens and Refractive Technologies Section of the AAO. Finally we have just been given the sensational news that two of our postgraduate students, Preeji Mandathara and Jack Phu were recipients of the American Optometric Foundation William C Ezell Fellowships. These are highly competitive awards and these students deserve our congratulations.
This month we celebrate the graduation of the Class of 2015 with 69 undergraduate students graduating. Following the official ceremony on 16 June, we will celebrate with them. Our graduates and other grade prizewinners will be recognised during a function at NIDA attended by our stakeholders and University leadership.
In Semester 2 of 2016 we welcome a further two higher degree research students to bring our total to 40. We are fortunate that our higher degree student community is well supported by Dr Blanka Golebiowski, as Postgraduate Director, Anne Barnes as Postgraduate Administrator and Praveen Yerramothu as Postgraduate Representative, which has allowed us to grow in this important area with huge success in granting of international scholarships, rapid student completions and excellent student progress.
Our next Alumni evening will be held mid-July where we will showcase our higher degree students who will update us on their research. These evenings are very popular with our Alumni and we encourage and invite you to attend. During semester we also hold Vaegan Seminars every second Friday from 4pm – 5pm. We are fortunate to attract speakers of a high calibre that present on their research in the vision science and optometric fields that I am sure will inspire you.
We hope that you enjoy our newly formatted e-newsletter and look forward to hearing your feedback or suggestions of what you would like to see in our future editions.
Professor Fiona Stapleton
Head of School, Optometry and Vision Science, UNSW Australia