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by Nathan Anderson

The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi has awarded Keyur Savla, Vision Science Program doctoral student at the UAB School of Optometry, a Dissertation Fellowship of $10,000. Not since 2016 has a UAB student received this honor.

“This award signifies that my work is not only important to me but a lot of other people out there,” Savla said. “Those that are rooting for me and who are willing to help me cross the finish line.”

Only 15 people in the country were awarded this honor, which supports students in the dissertation writing stage of doctoral study. The award is for 12 months of dissertation writing and assists with completing his dissertation titled, “Customizing Multifocal Contact Lenses for Myopia Control.” 

“Myopia is expected to affect half the world population by 2050,” he said. “Current treatment methods don't work on every single patient. It's a shot in the dark where we hope and pray that it works. My dissertation aims to understand certain aspects of the multifocal contact lens so that we can better design the lenses for our patients.”

Savlawas inducted into Phi Kappa Phi in 2018. Students among the top 10% of their programs are invited to be members. 

Also a student in the UAB School of Optometry’s Doctor of Optometry Program for International Students program, Keyur credits his success to the support received from his advisor and dissertation chair Andrew Pucker, OD, PhD, FAAO, FSLS. 

“Dr. Pucker is my advisor, and he gets all the credit for helping me with my research,” Savla said. “I don’t know if I would have received this award without his help.”

Pucker, a UAB School of Optometry clinical assistant professor, has been the principal investigator for a National Eye Institute-funded project related to myopia development and manages other research projects related to contact lenses, dry eye and refractive error development. He is also a British Contact Lens Association Fellow, Fellow and Diplomate of the American Academy of Optometry, and a Fellow of the Scleral Lens Education Society.