Growth and Development

by Nathan Anderson

Match Day is an exciting time for optometry students, as it is the day future residents find out if they did or did not match with their residencies. Abigail Witmer, OD, a graduate of The Ohio State University, received an email notification on March 27th notifying her that she had been matched with the UAB School of Optometry’s pediatric optometry residency. 

by Cary Estes

When it comes to research faculty recruitment and research grants, 2022 was a very good year for the UAB School of Optometry.

The Doctor of Optometry Program for International Students (DOPIS) welcomed three internationally trained students to the inaugural cohort in the summer of 2022.

The UAB School of Optometry’s ground through fifth floor renovations received a 2022 People’s Choice Award from Birmingham’s American Institute of Architecture. Managed by the architecture firm Birchfield Penuel & Associates (BPA), the renovations began in 2018 and the latest phase was completed in December 2021.

Yuchen Wang, PhD, has joined the UAB School of Optometry as an assistant professor in research. Wang is fascinated by how neurons communicate with each other, and his long-term career goal is to understand how synapses in sensory systems, particularly visual systems, achieve and maintain fast and reliable signal transmission, which enables a seamless and accurate perception of our environment.

The UAB School of Optometry has welcomed Edmund Arthur, OD, PhD, FAAO, as an assistant professor, tenure-track. Arthur’s research interests pertain to diabetes and dementia, two public health crises in the United States that are associated with huge health-care related costs and societal burden. 

by Satina Richardson

A new residency in ocular disease with an emphasis in refractive and ocular surgery is available through the UAB School of Optometry. Based at the Eye Center of Texas in Houston with four positions available, the program affiliation begins in June 2022 and is accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education.

by Satina Richardson

A gift from CooperVision will advance the study of myopia management and contact lenses at the UAB School of Optometry by endowing a faculty scholar position and providing scholarships to students earning OD/MS dual degrees or practicing optometrists pursuing doctorates in vision science. 

By Caleb Jones

Drs. John and Catherine Amos, former UAB School of Optometry (UABSO) Dean and alumna, respectively, have established the Dr. John F. Amos Endowed Faculty Scholar in Optometry. This is the first named faculty endowment in the School’s 52-year history.

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 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.

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.

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.

by Satina Richardson

The UAB School of Optometry has welcomed Natalie West, OD, and Keisha Brown, OD, as assistant professors.

With 60 new students and two returning students, the UAB School of Optometry’s class of 2024 is the largest class in the school’s 51-year history.

A residency at the Vanderbilt Eye Institute (VEI) in Nashville, TN, has launched, bringing the total number of residency programs available at the UAB School of Optometry to seven, with a total of 12 positions. This is one of two pediatric residencies available. The other is in-house at UAB Eye Care, the clinical arm of the UAB School of Optometry. 

The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry (UABSO) has launched a student exchange program with the University of South Wales School of Optometry and Vision Science (UNSW). Two UAB optometry students will have eight-week externships in the UNSW clinic, while four UNSW students will be hosted in four-week clinical rotations at UAB Eye Care, UABSO’s clinical arm.

This fall, the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry (UABSO) proudly celebrates its 50th anniversary, a tremendous milestone that cements the school’s legacy as one of the premier programs in the nation.

The Heersink Family Foundation has endowed four scholarships at the UAB School of Optometry. The Heersink Family Foundation Scholarship Endowment in Optometry is a gift of $100,000 which will support up to four recipients who plan to serve the Southeastern Alabama region after graduation.

The Worrell Building, a significant part of the UAB School of Optometry’s history, was demolished in February 2019 to make way for the modernization of the university campus. The building housed the Department of Vision Sciences, the Vision Science Graduate Program, and the Vision Science Research Center (VSRC) for the school from 1988 to 2013.

For years, there has been a room on the third floor of the Henry B. Peters Building that reminded Dean Kelly Nichols of “the lost luggage section at the airport.” Large rolling bags were scattered across the floor, creating an obstacle course that students had to traverse in order to retrieve their optometry equipment.

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.

Front of UAB Eye Care building

The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry received accreditation for the next eight years by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education—the longest time period permitted by ACOE policies.

The School of Optometry was visited by the ACOE in April 2017 and received a final report in July 2017. The next on-site visit will occur in April 2025.

Sommer Thompson smiling

The UAB School of Optometry announced that its new senior director of development will be Sommer Thompson, a development professional with more than nine years of experience at UAB.

Thompson, who most recently served as director of development at UAB’s Collat School of Business, will join the School of Optometry on July 10.

Robert and Sandra Wilson standing and smiling.

Improved eyesight is invaluable, but the cost for some can be prohibitive. With this in mind, Robert G. and Sandra Nichols Wilson have made a legacy gift to establish The Robert G. and Sandra Nichols Wilson Endowed Support Fund in Optometry.

HPB Second floor floor plan

Construction is underway for the Henry B. Peters Building exterior renovation project.