Honours Projects

For T1, 2021

Vison Science Honours involves full-time research (with supervision) in the School of Optometry and Vision Science. The course runs over 3 terms (with no coursework) and involves developing a research hypothesis, aims and project and then undertaking the research, with supervision.

Advanced training will be provided in selected areas of vision science, emphasising understanding and application of specialised techniques relevant to the research area (for example laboratory-based, sensory/virtual reality, clinical or public heath techniques and applications).

During the Honours year, you will also research and write a literature review and research proposal, undertake an ethics application (as appropriate) and prepare a final written research thesis. You are also required to regularly attend (on-line) Vaegan Seminars and other seminars. During the Honours year, students will present their work in two research seminars in the School of Optometry and Vision Science.

Vison Science Honours students can enrol to start in either T1, T2, or T3.

Applications are now open for VISN4016 Vision Science Honours T2 2021.

The closing date via the site below is April 7th 2021. 

Late applications: please contact Blanka Golebiowski (b.golebiowski@unsw.edu.au) or Science Student Services for late applications.


Prior Study: 3-year full-time bachelor degree specialising in Vision Science. (144 units of credit (UOC))

WAM: Minimum credit (65) weighted average mark (WAM)

Project/Supervisor Allocation 

You are responsible for arranging a supervisor and project before applying for Honours. Please see the School of Optometry and Vision Science for details on research groups: https://www.optometry.unsw.edu.au/research

Potential VISN4016 Honours Projects for 2021

Please find a list of potential projects following. There may be other projects available via direct contact with SOVS Research Groups.

Supervisors: Scientia Professor Fiona Stapleton (SOVS) Associate Professor Blanka Golebiowski (SOVS) Dr Minh Phan (SOVS) Dr Martin Bucknall (MWAC) 

Summary: This project seeks to develop novel methods to measure levels of a variety of sex hormones in human tears, serum and in tissue culture, using quantitative nano-LCMS stable isotope dilution. In one of their many roles in the human body, sex hormones (incl. androgens and oestrogens) are involved in production of the tear film which protects and nourishes the front of the eye. Funded by the Australian Research Council, our group is conducting research to understand how sex hormones regulate tear film production and thus maintain a healthy ocular surface and enable clear vision. Only small volumes of tears can be collected from human subjects, and currently available methods are not sufficiently sensitive to quantify sex hormone levels in tear samples. Our group has pioneered methods to detect sex hormones, and this honours project will help us to improve the sensitivity of these methods in order to analyse individual tear samples and extracts from tissue culture. The project will involve work in the School of Optometry and Vision Science (SOVS) and in the Mark Wainwright Analytical Centre (BMSF Laboratory), under joint supervision, and will collaborate with world-leading experts in both basic and applied science. Training in tandem mass spectrometry, nano-flow liquid chromatography and tear collection will be provided. The project would suit an enthusiastic student with an analytical background, chemistry / biochemistry wet lab skills and good attention to detail. A stipend will be available to the successful candidate.

For further information please contact Dr Minh Phan: m.phan@unsw.edu.au

We are taught the importance of frequent handwashing, but how well do we wash our hands? Currently, we lack an accessible tool for quantifying how well the hands have been washed, and we instead have been primarily relying on subjective observation or tests that do not provide immediate feedback. This project aims to validate and further develop an automated tool using augmented reality (AR) to measure the effectiveness of different handwashing procedures. The research will have widespread implications for improving community hygiene and health outcomes globally. 

For further information, please contact Dr Nayuta Yoshioka (n.yoshioka@unsw.edu.au

Supervisors: Dr Lisa Nivison-Smith, Dr Mohit Shivdasani 

Retinal prostheses or “bionic eyes” aim to restore vision to those blinded by photoreceptor dystrophies. However, the level of vision provided by present devices is poor. A possible reason is bionic eye implants are designed based on normal retinal anatomy. However, in the blind eye, retinal anatomy is significantly altered and may not be able to transmit signals from bionic eye devices properly.

This project uses detailed immunohistochemistry in an animal model of retinal degeneration to understand the biological factors that influence the efficacy of a retinal prosthesis. This will allow us to develop new stimulation strategies with the ultimate intention to provide blind retinal implant recipients with improved artificial vision which will significantly improve their quality of life.

This project is a collaboration between Dr Lisa Nivison-Smith and Dr Mohit Shivdasani at the Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering.

For further information please contact Dr Lisa Nivison-Smith: l.nivison-smith@unsw.edu.au

Hypercholesterolaemia is associated increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Lack of clear symptoms however means most people with the disease remain undiagnosed.

Cholesterol also plays an important role in the retina and abnormalities in cholesterol is associated with eye diseases such as macular degeneration.

This study looks at the retinal structure of individuals with hypercholesterolaemia to see if there is evidence of changes similar to macular degeneration. This could possibly lead to eye-based detection methods for hypercholesterolaemia.

This project is a collaboration between Dr Lisa Nivison-Smith and Dr Helen Williams at Westmead Hospital.

For further information please contact Dr Lisa Nivison-Smith: l.nivison-smith@unsw.edu.au


Supervisors: Dr Lisa Nivison-Smith, Dr Nicole Carnt

A number of studies have demonstrated gender imbalance in female authorship in academic publications in ophthalmology. This has been associated with the overall gender imbalance reported within both academia and the ophthalmology profession.

In the optometry profession, female registration currently exceeds male registration in Australia. Academic leadership in optometry (i.e. Heads of university optometry departments) is also reported to be female-dominated. There is a paucity of literature however on female authorship in academic optometry.  

This project will assess female authorship in three main optometry journals over several decades to determine the relative gender balance in publications over time and compare this to trends in ophthalmology. This project is a collaboration between Dr Lisa Nivison-Smith and Dr Nicole Carnt.

For further information please contact Dr Lisa Nivison-Smith: l.nivison-smith@unsw.edu.au

Supervisors: Dr Lisa Nivison-Smith, Professor Michael Kalloniatis

Summary: Macular neovascularisation is a major reason for vision loss in age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and target of the only effective treatment. Several clinical trials show patients have better outcomes if we detect and treat neovascularisation early.

Evidence of choroidal changes in early AMD is conflicting with some suggesting thinning at the fovea and others suggesting no change. This may be due to assessing the choroid using thickness which will miss subtle changes in blood vessel architecture.

This project will assess the choroid in AMD using a novel tool - the choroidal vascularity index (CVI). CVI can indicate subtle changes in the size and shape of choroidal vessels not possible with thickness measurements. CVI will be quantified across the macula to create a map of the choroid angioarchitecture which can be used to detect those at greatest risk of vision loss.

For further information please contact Dr Lisa Nivison-Smith: l.nivison-smith@unsw.edu.au

Supervisors: Dr Jack Phu and Prof Michael Kalloniatis

Summary: Clinicians are confronted with a wealth of data obtained in an examination to make decisions on diagnosis and management plans. The requirement to integrate large volumes of data, especially in modern practice, can specifically confound the diagnosis of glaucoma, the leading cause of irreversible vision loss, from non-glaucomatous optic disease. By applying statistical and pattern recognition analysis, the project aims to develop models to explain these differences with the goal of not only directly guiding clinicians' behaviour in practice, but also to better understand the underlying pathophysiology of glaucoma and eye disease.

For further information please contact Dr Jack Phu: jphu@cfeh.com.au

Supervisor: Dr Juno Kim

Summary: You will join the Sensory Processes Research Laboratory to undertake research in the field of virtual reality and multisensory integration. You will be responsible for leading a research project examining how we rely on multisensory integration to perceptually infer the physical properties of real and simulated environments. The application of outcomes from this research will have broad implications for industries spanning health and entertainment. If you desire, you may also have an opportunity to engage with industry on collaborative research. This competitive research opportunity directly builds on your learning in the OPTM3201 course.

For further information please contact Dr Juno Kim: juno.kim@unsw.edu.au

Supervisors: Dr Jerome Ozkan, Prof Minas Coroneo

Cataract surgery is one of the most frequently performed surgical procedures in the world. Use of antiseptics and antibiotics as part of cataract surgery is necessary to minimise the risk of postoperative bacterial endophthalmitis. However, following successful cataract surgery, studies have reported an increase in post-operative dry eye syndrome and cataract surgery to be associated with dry eye. What impact the use of ocular antisepsis/antibiotic treatment during cataract surgery has on the ocular microbiome and the development of post-operative dry eye syndrome is currently not known. 

Using DNA gene sequencing, this study will address what effect ocular antisepsis/antibiotic use associated with cataract surgery has on the ocular surface microbial composition and whether any antibiotic induced perturbation in the ocular microbiota is correlated with changes in dry eye symptoms in patients.  

For further information please contact Dr Jerome Ozkan: j.ozkan@unsw.edu.au

Supervisors: Dr Parthasarathi Kalaiselvan, Dr Ajay Vijay, Prof Mark Willcox

Summary: As we all know, during COVID-19 there has been increased awareness of the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 via aerosol. Healthcare workers and the general public have been asked to wear face masks to try to limit the extent of transmission of the virus. There are been claims that simply wearing glasses can protect your eyes from infection.

Face masks have been made by many manufacturers, often ones that have no previous experience in this area, and most of these have not been investigated thoroughly. The claims of glasses helping to protect your eyes from infection with viruses has not been systematically investigated.

You will learn how to grow a mouse version of coronavirus, one that cannot infect humans. This virus is recognised by regulatory authorities and scientists as an appropriate surrogate for SARS-CoV-2. You will aerosolise the virus in a closed chamber. Using a mannequin head, you will examine whether glasses of various shapes and sizes can protect the eyes of the mannequin from the virus. You will also use a custom designed test rig that aerosolises the virus and allows you to test whether face masks can prevent the transmission of the virus in the aerosols through them.

For further information please contact Prof Mark Willcox: m.willcox@unsw.edu.au