News

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.  

The year 2020 was marked by constant change due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Melendi Morton and Randle Tibbs proved to be exceptional during the most challenging time in the school’s history. For their efforts, the two were awarded the first-ever Dean’s Outstanding Staff Award at the 2021 Doctoral Convocation and Hooding Ceremony.

The Dean’s Distinguished Faculty Award recognizes exemplary leadership and service and is only given when an individual rises to the occasion in an exceptional way. During the 2021 Doctoral Convocation and Hooding Ceremony, the award was presented to Elizabeth Steele, OD, FAAO, associate professor and associate dean for clinical affairs.

by Janene Sims, OD, PhD, FAAO

Tuesday, April 27th, marked the 10-year anniversary of a historic deadly tornado outbreak in the South. This series of storms lasted several days and spread across more than 20 states. Alabama suffered the most tragedy with 252 Alabamians losing their lives during an 18-hour period. Sixty-two confirmed tornadoes ranging from EF-1 to EF-5 wreaked havoc for a 1200 mile range. The weather alarms blared almost continuously that Wednesday. This week, Governor Ivey ordered that flags be flown at half-staff for a “Day of Remembrance” for the lives lost.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham, consistently recognized for achievements in diversity, has been named America’s No. 4 Best Employer for Diversity by Forbes. Its diverse community brings connections both to social and ethnic groups and to individual life experiences.

Congratulations to Shervonne Poleon, who has been named the recipient of the 2021 Prevent Blindness Rising Visionary Award. 

Mai Nguyen
by Satina Richardson
 
Mai Nguyen, Vision Science Graduate Program student, is the first UAB School of Optometry student to receive an F31 Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award. This National Institutes of Health grant is for five years, totaling $189,180.

Research funding to the University of Alabama at Birmingham from the National Institutes of Health exceeded $325 million in 2020. The university received $325,573,502, according to the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research. That placed UAB 27th in the list of universities receiving funding from the NIH. Among public universities, UAB ranked 12th.

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Keshia Elder, OD, MS, FAAO, associate professor, has been named director of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) for the UAB School of Optometry (UABSO). This position is a new role within the school’s leadership.

UAB Eye Care, the UAB School of Optometry's clinical arm, has expanded its low vision services in response to the expected increased demand for low vision services. The clinic is one of few in Alabama to offer a telemedicine option to low vision patients who cannot travel or are located in rural areas.

John Laurent, OD, MS, PhD, traveled a storied path to becoming an associate professor at the UAB School of Optometry. Prior to joining the faculty, he spent 30 years on active duty in the US Army and US Navy. During that time, he gained the knowledge and experience needed to become an educator. After 10 years at the school, Laurent retired effective March 1.

Paul Batson, OD, class of 1998, has been named the 2020 Alumnus of the Year by the UAB School of Optometry Alumni Association. In addition to being an alumnus, he has been a part-time faculty member in ocular disease for nearly two decades.

Katie Clore, OD, has been named the 2020 Alabama Optometric Association (ALOA) Educator of the Year.