Following nearly five years of service to the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry, Michael Twa, O.D., Ph.D., FAAO, received the Dean’s Distinguished Service Award in 2019. This award is given only when an individual rises to the occasion in an exceptional way.

Twa received the award during the 2019 commencement ceremony, which was also his last official UABSO event. He became dean of the University of Houston College of Optometry effective June 1, 2019.

At UAB, Twa was a professor in the School of Optometry, the Department of Ophthalmology, and the Department of Biomedical Engineering. He was also the associate dean for Research and Graduate Studies in Vision Science and the Vision Science Graduate Program director.

“I tapped Dr. Twa for the award due to his true love for being an educator and dedication to academia,” said Kelly Nichols, O.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., FAAO, dean of UABSO. “He views the opportunity to help share the future of vision science and vision care by training the next generation of leaders in research and clinical practice as a privilege. At the same time, he is well respected in the industry.”

Twa has been involved in teaching, research and clinical practice for more than 25 years. He has been the editor in chief of Optometry and Vision Science since 2016, and also has more than 100 published scientific articles related to medicine, optics, image processing, machine learning and biomedical engineering.

His research interests include biomedical imaging, soft tissue biomechanics, and glaucoma. Over the past 10 years, his work has focused on developing a new diagnostic imaging technology for use in the eye: optical coherence elastography. The goal of this work is to advance the understanding of tissue biomechanics and understand how structural degenerations influence health and function of the eye in glaucoma, keratoconus, and other diseases.

“His passion, knowledge and influence will be missed by the UABSO family,” Nichols said. “However, I am very proud of what he has accomplished by becoming a fellow dean.”