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Presenting My Research at ARVO 2018 in Hawaii!

Hannah in front of poster

After a year of data collection and analysis for my Master’s project at NECO, I finally got a chance to show the research community what I’ve been working on at the annual Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) conference. This year, ARVO was held in Hawaii and drew an internationally diverse crowd of researchers and clinicians. Not only did I get to interact with researchers from different optometry and medical schools in the US, but I also met researchers from countries such as Singapore, China, Australia, and Germany. It was such a rewarding experience to see all of the impressive work that’s being done all over the world for the advancement of eye care and vision science.

As an OD/MS student at New England College of Optometry, I appreciated the wide variety of poster sessions and talks ARVO offered, ranging from myopia and binocularity, to diabetic retinopathy, AMD, and dry eye. I felt that ARVO really expanded my scope of understanding for my research area of interest, which is myopia control, and educated me on the emerging treatments and technologies being studied. It was an empowering experience to be a part of a community of researchers and clinicians, diversified by varying interests, but united by the goal of overcoming the current challenges that optometry, ophthalmology, and vision science face.

Hannah talking to someone about her posterMy favorite day of the week-long conference was the day I presented my poster! My poster was selected as a “Hot Topic,” which ARVO describes as the “newest and most innovative research being conducted in the various specialties.” Because of this distinction, I was lucky to get a lot of traffic at my poster. For almost 2 hours, I explained our experiment’s findings and the clinical implications of the results. To make a long story short, the poster discussed the work I’ve been doing with Dr. Francis Rucker and I creating a novel light condition that shows a decrease in eye growth, which seems to indicate a slow down in the progression of myopia. The results are exciting because something as simple as installing a light in school classrooms and homes could potentially provide an inexpensive and non-invasive method of slowing myopia development. 

Because it was my first time attending a conference, I was completely star struck by some of the researchers that came up to my poster because I recognized their names from research papers I’ve read since the start of my Master’s journey. Putting faces to the names of highly regarded researchers in the field of myopia was definitely another highlight of the conference. I look forward to continue networking at future conferences to come!

Beach and ocean in HawaiiAttending an internationally renowned conference like ARVO as a second year student is definitely something that I will never forget. Many thanks to Dr. Rucker and Chris Taylor, BSc, PhD, for their continual mentorship, Dr. Gwiazda and the Master’s program for helping send four students to the ARVO conference this year, and to my parents who have supported me every step of the way. 

I’m back in Boston now, getting ready to finish OD2 with a week of final exams. This summer, I will continue working on my Master’s project, motivated more than ever to hopefully present new data at next year’s ARVO conference in Vancouver!

Hannah is a third year Korean American student who is originally from Rochester, NY. She is a 2016 graduate of Boston College, where she studied Behavioral Neuroscience and minored in Medical Humanities. Some of her most formative experiences at BC include volunteering weekly at a children’s hospital, traveling to Nicaragua on a service and cultural immersion trip, and studying the neurobiology of eating and eating disorders through an undergraduate research fellowship. Hannah's decision to pursue optometry wasn’t completely made until the summer before her senior year at BC. Despite this relatively late start, she believes that her Jesuit education at BC has cultivated a deep sense of social responsibility to serve communities as an optometrist, perhaps by participating in vision science research adapted towards treatments for rare ocular conditions or by providing basic eye exams to underprivileged communities in the US and Latin America. She is thrilled to be spending another 4 years in the historically rich city of Boston, but this time, as a graduate student and living in the heart of Boston with 2 other roommates! She cannot wait to see where the next four years at NECO will lead her, as well as her classmates in the class of 2020!