News

by Caleb Jones

Seth D. Fortmann, a dual degree MD/PhD student enrolled in the Vision Science Graduate Program (VSGP), has been awarded an F30 research grant from the National Institute of Health’s National Eye Institute (NIH/NEI). The total grant amount is $208,840 and marks the first time in UAB School of Optometry (UABSO) history that a VSGP student has been awarded an F30 grant.

by Satina Richardson

A professor dedicated to treating young patients and training future optometrists, Kristine Hopkins, OD, MSPH, FAAO, was named the 2021 Alabama Optometric Association (ALOA) Educator of the Year.

Hopkins joined the UAB School of Optometry faculty in the summer of 1998  working in pediatric clinical services and founded UAB Eye Care’s Vision Therapy Clinic. UAB Eye Care is the clinical arm of the school. She left to work in an Atlanta-area private practice in 2012. However, her love for teaching influenced a return to UAB in 2015.

Safal Khanal, OD, PhD, FAAO, has joined the UAB School of Optometry as a tenure-track assistant professor. In his new role, Khanal will lead an independent research program, in addition to teaching professional and graduate courses and contributing to professional service.

By Caleb Jones

The UAB School of Optometry (UABSO) recently kicked off its new Faculty-Student Mentoring and Social Program (FSMS), organized by assistant professor of optometry Andrew Pucker, OD, PhD, FAAO, FSLS. The program is intended to foster student relationships with faculty members and students from other optometry classes.

By Caleb Jones

Keshia S. Elder, OD, MS, FAAO, associate professor of optometry and an attending in the UAB Eye Care Primary Care clinic, has been selected to participate in the Health Leadership Academy (HLA). She will be a member of the 2022 cohort, which includes a select few from a cross-section of individuals from UAB schools, the UAB Health System and UAB Medicine.

by Satina Richardson

 

Candice Turner, OD, discovered her passion for teaching while working with fourth year optometry students during her career in private practice. She ultimately changed paths and became a full-time educator. Her decision has been rewarding. Turner received the 2021 UAB President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

by Satina Richardson

Jason Nichols, OD, MPH, PHD, FAAO, has been named UAB’s senior associate president for research. Nichols’ existing responsibilities include leading entrepreneurial and clinical trial initiatives in the Office of Research, serving on the Center for Clinical and Translational Science Executive Committee, and ongoing return to research operations planning. He will now also assume leadership duties of the merged offices of Research Development & Internal Programs as well as Research Engagement & Partnerships. 

by Caleb Jones

Yuqiang (Bob) Bai, PhD, a researcher in the lab of Jason Nichols, OD, MPH, PHD, FAAO, has been awarded an NEI/NIH R21 grant to develop an interferometry system with unprecedented sub-micron resolution to understand tear film structure and function in dry eye disease. The grant is for two years, totaling $370,101.

by Caleb Jones

UAB School of Optometry alumnus Walter Jackson, OD, has been named National Optometric Association Student of the Year. The Class of 2021 graduate--who also currently serves as the national president of the National Optometric Student Association (NOSA)--has also received the Dr. Marvin R. Poston Leadership Award. The honor recognizes outstanding optometry students and members of NOSA. All award recipients chosen embody the entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to diversity of Poston, a founding member of Vision Service Plan (VSP).

by Satina Richardson

Deanna Jones’ 19-month-old son, Sammy, was being clumsy. She thought this was because he is a toddler, or because she thought he had a lazy eye. Jones began seeking medical help for him and her efforts ultimately saved his vision.

by Satina Richardson

Four of the six UAB School of Optometry deans have served as president of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO). Following in their footsteps, UAB School of Optometry Dean Kelly Nichols is ASCO president for 2021-22.

Nichols is the first ASCO president who also served as president of the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA).

As the summer comes to an end, parents of school-aged children may find themselves questioning what they need to do before the first bell of the 2021 school year rings. Experts from the University of Alabama at Birmingham recommend four things that need to be on parents’ checklists to ensure their child is ready to hit the books. 

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Vision screenings have long been a part of the School of Optometry’s community service offerings. In 1974, two optometry students screened two young children for vision issues.

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Demetric Jones took a nontraditional path to optometry school. After earning his undergraduate degree from Middle Tennessee State University, he established a career at Unilever-Covington in Memphis, Tenn., to reduce the financial hardship of his single-parent home. Improved circumstances signaled that he could finally pursue his goal of becoming an eye doctor.

With encouragement from his wife, he applied to multiple optometry schools, interviewed at three schools, and became an officer in the newly formed Black Eyecare Perspective Pre-Optometry Club to begin building a professional network in the field. Jones will attend the UAB School of Optometry’s OD/MBA dual degree program as a member of the 2025 class. Here is Jones' story in his own words.  

Drs. Shad Wheatley and Warren Gwynn

Shad Wheatley, OD, and Warren Gwynn, OD, have won a UAB Excellence in Business Top 25 Award given by the UAB National Alumni Society. The two graduated from the UAB School of Optometry in 2002 and 2014, respectively, and are owners of Eye Care on the Ridge.

by Satina Richardson

Janene Sims, OD, PhD, FAAO, has won the Odessa Woolfolk Community Service Award. This award was established by UAB to recognize one of its faculty who has rendered outstanding service to UAB’s community.

by Kim O'Sullivan, ASCO director of communications 

During ASCO’s Board meeting in June, ASCO swore in a new President for the upcoming 12 months. This year, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Board meeting was held remotely, and Dr. Kelly Nichols was sworn in as ASCO’s president virtually.

by Satina Richardson 

UAB School of Optometry faculty and staff will do one action daily to further their understanding of power, privilege, supremacy, oppression, and equity during the 21-Day Diversity and Equity Challenge. The challenge began on June 19 in recognition of Juneteenth.

Kelly Nichols, OD, MPH, PhD, FAAO, UAB School of Optometry dean, has been elected secretary of the board of directors for each the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) and the Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (AEVR) for the 2021-2023 term.

Andrew D. Pucker, OD, PhD, UAB School of Optometry assistant professor, has successfully completed his fellowship in the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA). Only about 200 contact lens professionals from the international community of contact lens industry and practice have achieved this distinction since it was introduced in 2006.