UAB - School of Optometry - News


Sam Pierce headshot.

What is your hometown?
Opp, Alabama

When did you graduate from UAB School of Optometry?

What would you say is your greatest accomplishment outside of the field of Optometry?
I was the first member of my family to get a college degree, and I was also the first one in my family to live most of my life outside the county where I was born.

Sam Pierce, Andrew Pucker, Hannah Greenfield, Mark Swanson

At the upcoming American Optometric Association conference, to be held June 20-24, in Denver, the UABSO family has a lot to be proud of, as Dr. Sam Pierce (’89) will be sworn in as AOA president, Dr. Mark Swanson (’85) will be given the AOA Educator of the Year award, faculty member Dr. Andrew Pucker will receive the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry Rising Star Award and Dr. Hannah Greenfield (’18) will be recognized as the first American Optometric Student Association Student of the Year.  

2018 School of Optometry Graduates with Dean.

UABSO celebrated the class of 2018 on Mother’s Day weekend. The young men and women who received the doctor of optometry degree brought the number of optometrists UABSO has graduated to 1,600.

Marina Gorbatyuk, PhD

A researcher at the UAB School of Optometry has been awarded a $1.25 million R01 grant from the National Eye Institute to study the regulation of protein synthesis in photoreceptors of mice with inherited retinal degeneration.

This research, led by Marina Gorbatyuk, PhD, associate professor of vision science, will not only lead to a better understanding of vision loss in humans, but will also promote the development of new strategies for stopping retinal degeneration.

Kelly Nichols and Jason Nichols headshots.

Kelly Nichols, O.D., MPH, Ph.D., professor and dean of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry, and Jason Nichols, O.D., MPH, Ph.D., professor and assistant vice president for Industry Research at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, have both been internationally recognized in two articles published in the peer-reviewed journal The Ocular Surface for their contributions as authors on multiple publications in the study of dry eye disease research.

Andrew Pucker

A UAB School of Optometry faculty member recently received national recognition for his work in optometric education.

Andrew Pucker, OD, PhD, assistant professor at the School of Optometry, is the 2018 recipient of the Rising Star Award, given by the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry, or ASCO.

Kim Duong with student patients.

Kim Duong, OD, MS, is no stranger to community service. The clinical assistant professor at the UAB School of Optometry has worked with children with Type 1 diabetes, provided vision screenings at volunteer events, and works with young girls in the Birmingham, Alabama, area, where she moved in July 2017 to join the School of Optometry faculty.

Third-floor renovations of the Henry Peters Building began in December.

Third-floor renovations are underway at the UAB School of Optometry’s Henry Peters Building.

The updates, which are part of an overall renovation to the building, began in December and aim to bring a greater focus to the School of Optometry student experience.

Janene Sims, OD, PhD

As the new director of Community Eye Care (CEC), Janene Sims, OD, PhD, is excited about past growth of the UAB School of Optometry’s community outreach arm.

CEC, which provides comprehensive eye care and vision screenings for underinsured residents at locations throughout the Birmingham metro area, increased its presence at Western Health Center in Midfield, Alabama, from three days a week to four in 2017. And at the annual Gift of Sight event in December, free eye care and glasses were provided to 260 patients.

Now, Sims is looking forward to what is to come in 2018. Her work with CEC began when she was a student at the School of Optometry and continued when she joined the School as a part-time faculty member in 1997. Now, Sims is an associate professor at the School of Optometry, supervisor of its Residency in Family Practice Optometry and also serves as an advisor for the UAB chapter of the National Optometric Student Association.

A student with the UAB School of Optometry examines a patient during the 2017 Gift of Sight event. Altogether, 260 patients received free eye care over four days.

The UAB School of Optometry and the Jefferson County Department of Health partnered for the fourth consecutive year to bring free comprehensive eye exams and glasses to low-income and underinsured Birmingham residents.

Altogether, 260 patients were seen during the Gift of Sight event, which was held Nov. 29 - Dec. 2 at the Western Health Center in Midfield, Alabama, and at UAB Eye Care, the School of Optometry’s clinical operation. Some patients will return for follow-up appointments for retina, glaucoma and specialty contact lenses, says Janene Sims, O.D., associate professor at the School of Optometry.

Jonathan Davis and Haley Hixon

The American Academy of Optometry Foundation named Jonathan Davis and Haley Hixon, both fourth-year students at the UAB School of Optometry, 2017 Practice Excellence Scholarship recipients.

The Foundation annually selects students from each North American college or school of optometry based on submission by each institution. Davis and Hixon are among 44 top-performing optometry students in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada who will receive awards totaling nearly $200,000.

Paul Brown

The American Academy of Optometry Foundation has named Paul Brown, a third-year student at the UAB School of Optometry, a recipient of the 2017 Johnson & Johnson Vision J. Pat Cummings Scholarship.

The Foundation awards the scholarship annually to a second- or third-year optometry student at each North American school or college of optometry who best demonstrates the ideal eye care standards of practice, achievement in both academic performance and extra-curricular activities, and participation with other professional pursuits such as involvement with patients through internships, community service and volunteer activities.

Brown received a $1,000 scholarship and a personalized plaque as part of the award, which is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson and named after a leader in optometry who died in a 2009 plane crash.

Shannon Kirchmer

After third-year optometry student Shannon Kirchmer achieved her longime goal of running her first marathon — the Mercedes Marathon in Birmingham, Alabama this past February — she realized she was just two minutes shy of qualifying for the 2019 Boston Marathon.

“I knew I could do it,” she says.

With her new goal of competing in the world’s oldest annual marathon, she sought the help of a coach through a Birmingham running group to help her with a training plan.

On Nov. 4, she ran a personal record of 3:20:25 (a 7:39 mile pace) in the CNO Indianapolis Monumental Marathon — qualifying her for the Boston Marathon.

Ten students at the UAB School of Optometry have earned the title of Student Fellow with the American Academy of Optometry.

The Student Fellowship program offered by the Academy encourages students to experience the Academy’s annual meeting in the hopes it will stimulate improved integration of all opportunities offered at the meeting, encourage future involvement and persuade students to become future fellows.

Mark Swanson, O.D., (left) professor at the UAB School of Optometry, was named Educator of the Year by the Alabama Optometric Association.

The Alabama Optometric Association has named Mark Swanson, O.D., professor at the UAB School of Optometry, its Educator of the Year.

Swanson was honored as the recipient of the 2017 award at the ALOA’s annual convention, held Nov. 3-5 at the Hyatt Regency in Birmingham.

“It’s an honor to receive this award from my colleagues, former students and friends in the state association,” Swanson says. “I couldn’t have asked for a better group to work with through the years.”

Christine Curcio, Ph.D. (left) and Kelly K. Nichols, O.D., M.P.H., Ph.D.(right)

Age-related macular degeneration was the topic at the UAB School of Optometry’s annual Springer Lecture, presented by the 2017 Springer Award Honoree, Christine Curcio, Ph.D., professor at the UAB Department of Ophthalmology.

Curcio gave her lecture, entitled “Age-related macular degeneration discovery through histologically validated multimodal clinical imaging,” to School of Optometry faculty and students on Sept. 28 in Volker Hall on the UAB campus.

UAB Eye Care to Host Annual Fall Eyewear Trunk Show

Friday, Oct. 20, 2017
9 am - 4 pm

Michael Twa, O.D., Ph.D.

A faculty member at the UAB School of Optometry brought the topic of precision medicine to the 2017 American Academy of Optometry meeting, held Oct. 11-14 at McCormick Place in Chicago.

The 2017 Monroe J. Hirsch Symposium, organized by Michael Twa, O.D., Ph.D., associate dean for research and graduate studies at the School of Optometry, was held Thursday, Oct. 12 at the meeting and entitled "Precision Medicine and the Future of Healthcare."

Vision Therapy Clinic

When the waiting list for an appointment at the Vision Therapy Clinic at UAB Eye Care reached nearly 50 patients, it was clear that more space was needed, recalls Kristine Hopkins, O.D., M.S.P.H., associate professor at the UAB School of Optometry.

The clinical service had outgrown the space used to provide weekly care for about 36 patients—mostly children—with conditions that affect eye teaming, visual tracking and focusing.

Fourteen UAB School of Optometry faculty, six residents, one postdoctoral fellow and one graduate student are presenting at the 2017 American Academy of Optometry meeting, which is being held Oct. 11-14 in Chicago at McCormick Place. The presentations include research, lectures and workshops on a variety of optometry and vision science topics.

The annual Academy meeting includes nearly 300 hours of lectures and workshops, symposia and scientific lecture and poster presentations. It offers a wide variety of clinically relevant continuing education courses and cutting edge research in the clinical and vision sciences.