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UAB School of Optometry Vision Science Graduate program students Jessica V. Jasien, MEn and Priya M. Pitale, MS, have been named Ezell Fellows by the American Academy  of Optometry Foundation (AAOF). Out of 42 outstanding applicants, only 13 exceptional individuals were selected for this prestigious award.

The Ezell Fellowship program is named after the founding President of the AAOF, William C. Ezell, OD. It was established to provide talented post-doctoral students who are pursuing an advanced degree in optometric research and education recognition and support. To date, over 400 William C. Ezell Fellowships have been awarded since the inception of the program in 1949. 

Jasien, was named the  Rod Tahran-Essilor Ezell Fellow. Her PI/mentor is Dr. J. Crawford Downs, Professor of Ophthalmology, Biomedical Engineering, and Computer and Information Science at UAB.

“The Rod Tahran-Essilor Ezell Fellowship will enable me to become a strong leader of glaucoma research,” Jasien sad. “This fellowship will give me an invaluable foundation for my long-term goal of being a successful academic researcher, teach vision science, mentor, perform community outreach, and lead a laboratory capable of making impactful discoveries in the field of vision science.”

Pitale, was named an American Academy of Optometry Ezell Fellow. Her advisor is Dr. Marina Gorbatyuk, Associate Professor at Department of Optometry and Vision Science at UAB School of Optometry.

"I am honored and excited to be the recipient of the American Academy of Optometry’s 2018 Ezell Fellowship,” Pitale said. “I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the AAO Ezell Committee, Dr. Michael Twa, Dr. Marina Gorbatyuk, Dr. Alecia Gross, the Vision Science Graduate Program at UABSO and my family. This fellowship offers me opportunities to network and contribute to vision research and optometric education."

The 2018-19 Ezell Fellows will be honored at the AAOF’s Annual Celebration Luncheon on November 12th, 2018 during AAO’s Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

“Over the past few years, we have celebrated five Ezell Fellows in the UAB School of Optometry,” said Dean Kelly Nichols. “I’m very proud that Jessica and Priya join the ranks of this elite group of researchers that have received this prestigious award. It’s a great honor to serve as Dean to such an talented group of students. On behalf of all faculty and staff here at the UAB School of Optometry we say congratulations to these award recipients.”