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Young optometrist first Australian to claim American research fellowship

An associate lecturer is the first Australian to receive an international research fellowship in its 95-year history, for his project on subtyping open angle glaucoma.

Dr Jack Phu, from the Centre for Eye Health, School of Optometry and Vision Science at the University of New South Wales, is the 2020 recipient of the Beta Sigma Kappa (BSK) Research Fellowship.

The American Academy of Optometry Foundation (AAOF) announced the fellowship on 29 September in collaboration with the BSK International Optometric Honor Society.

Phu, a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, will use the award to fund his project on phenotyping open angle glaucoma subtypes to determine disease prognosis.

A small group of optometrists in Illinois founded BSK in 1925; today it has student chapters in every school and college of optometry in the US, with two in Canada, and one in Puerto Rico.

The fellowship is designed to provide support for early career optometric and vision science faculty research.

Phu also received the AAOF’s 2016-2017 William C Ezell Fellowship when he was a PhD student, and his latest award continues the UNSW’s string of recent success, with UNSW Professor Mark Willcox recognised for his research on infection prevention and medical devices, receiving two awards from leading organisations nationally and overseas.

UNSW PhD candidates Sidra Sarwat and Rabia Mobeen have also been recognised, winning the AAOF’s 2020 Joe and Janet Barr Early Career Cornea and Contact Lens Research Award from the AAOF and the 2020 William C Ezell Fellowship, respectively.

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