Well, another strange year to be sure…. COVID-19 is still affecting all of our lives, but fortunately our research was not as affected as some of our colleagues in other universities in Australia or overseas. In fact, we had another very successful and productive year.

We also moved Faculties in 2021, from the Faculty of Science to the Faculty of Medicine and Health. We have kept our collaborations with colleagues from Science, but it has been exciting and rewarding to meet our new Faculty colleagues and start developing new research collaborations.


Expertscape published an analysis of expertise in contact lenses worldwide, based on 3,824 eligible articles published since 2011. We were very pleased to see that UNSW, led by our School, was the top-rated institution publishing in this field. Not only that but Scientia Professor Fiona Stapleton was 2nd in the world ranking for experts in this field, with Professor Mark Willcox, Associate Professor Nicole Carnt and Emeritus Professor Eric Papas named in the top 20. Many congratulations to SOVS Visiting Professor, Lyndon Jones who topped this list. We are also pleased to see that Associate Professor Nicole Carnt topped the global ranking for Keratitis.


January 2021 saw Professor Willcox awarded an ARVO Gold Fellowship and Visiting Professor Alison McDermott awarded an ARVO Silver Fellowship. To be bestowed an ARVO Fellow is an honour and it was established to recognise current ARVO members for their individual accomplishments, leadership and contributions to the Association.

In October 2021, Professor Konrad Pesudovs was awarded the American Academy of Optometry Foundation Glenn Fry Award and Lecture.  This award recognises a distinguished scientist or clinician for their current research contributions. The award is given annually to a distinguished scientist or clinician scientist in recognition of the quality, significance, impact, and relevance to optometry of his or her current research contributions.


We are really excited to say that in every category of grant funding – Category 1 (NHMRC, ARC grants), Category 2 (Other Public Sector Research Income) and Category 3 (private sector, philanthropic and international sources) – we exceeded our funding from 2020.

In October 2021 Professor Lisa Keay and colleagues were awarded funding from the Australian Federal Government, Road Safety Innovation Fund for a project titled Increasing older drivers’ competency and confidence in the use of advance vehicle technologies (AVT). Professor Keay was also awarded a National Health & Medical Research Council Ideas Grant with Associate Professor Julie Brown from The George Institute for Global Health, UNSW. Professor Keay is also an investigator on the Australian Eye and Ear Health Survey, with colleagues at Westmead Institute for Medical Research, University of Sydney, Macquarie University, The George Institute for Global Health and Brien Holden Foundation.

Associate Professor Juno Kim was awarded an ARC Discovery Project entitled “Unleashing the potential of VR: reducing sickness in head-mounted displays” with colleagues from the University of Wollongong.

Dr Sheela Kumaran, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at UNSW School of Optometry and Vision Science was awarded a Macular Disease Foundation Australia (MDFA) research grant at a ceremony at Admiralty House in Sydney on 20 May 2021 by his Excellency, the Honourable David Hurley, Governor-General of Australia.

In July 2021 Dr Jerome Ozkan, Lecturer and Research Fellow at UNSW School of Optometry and Vision Science was awarded the 2021 Macular Degeneration Grant from the Estate of the late Peter Anthony John Vild. Jerome is studying differences in the microorganisms on the conjunctiva (ocular microbiome) and proteins in the tears (tear proteome) of patients with dry-AMD compared to wet-AMD and healthy controls.

Also in July, Dr Shyam Tummanapalli was awarded the Diabetes Research Grant from the Elizabeth O’Beirne and Robert and Emmy Mather Trust Fund. Shyam will investigate the relationship of tear film nitric oxide with corneal and peripheral neuropathy in people with diabetes and assess whether tear film nitric oxide concentration can be used as a non-invasive biomarker for the development of peripheral neuropathy in diabetes.

Associate Professor Nicole Carnt was awarded a Rebecca L Cooper Medical Research Foundation Project Grant entitled Preventing Sight Loss from Cold Sore Infections of the Eye just as the last newsletter was being written, and so we congratulate her on this now as the grant spans 2020/2021. In 2021, Nicole was also awarded a PLuS Alliance Seed Funding Grant with colleagues at Kings College in London, investigating tear signals in keratitis.

The Eye Research Group (ERG) led by Senior Research Fellow Dr Jacqueline Tan and Scientia Professor Fiona Stapleton continues to grow from strength to strength. The ERG is an exemplar of industry collaboration and has grown in specialised equipment and personnel.


Ok, you know the story by now… we beat last year’s number of quartile 1 publications in 2021! We are proud to announce that we published a grand total of 328 papers for 2021. One of the highlights were the publication of the BCLA Contact Lens Evidence-based Academic Reports (CLEAR) reports published in April 2021 issue of Contact Lens that had contributions from many of our staff (Willcox, Vijay, Tan, Siddireddy, Stapleton, Maseedupally, Masoudi, Mobeen, Kang, Jalbert, Hui, Golebiowski, Carnt) and visiting academic staff (Debarun Dutta, Alison McDermott, Lyndon Jones, Philip Morgan, Ravi Bakaraju, Paul Gifford, Craig Woods, Padmaja Sankaridurg).

Here are some that are published as Open Access, and free for you to download and read:

  1. Burton et al. The Lancet Global Health Commission on Global Eye Health: vision beyond 2020. The Lancet Global Health Commission 2021; 9: E489-E551.
  2. Szczotka-Flynn et al. American Academy of Optometry Microbial Keratitis Think Tank. Optometry and Vision Science. 2021; 98: 182-198.
  3. Thomson et al. Lifetime Corneal Edema Load Model. Translational Vision Science & Technology. 2021; 10: 34.
  4. Sankaridurg et al. IMI Impact of Myopia. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. 2021; 62: 2.
  5. Khou et al. Review of referrals reveal the impact of referral content on the triage and management of ophthalmology wait lists. BMJ Open. 2021; 11: e047246
  6. Ali et al. The effect of blue light filtering lenses on speed perception. Scientific Reports. 2021; 11: 17583
  7. Yasir et al. Antiviral effect of multipurpose contact lens disinfecting solutions against coronavirus. Contact Lens and Anterior Eye. doi:10.1016/j.clae.2021.101513
  8. Erickson et al. TFOS: Unique challenges and unmet needs for the management of ocular surface diseases throughout the world. The Ocular Surface. 2021; 22: 242-244
  9. Jonas et al. IMI Prevention of Myopia and Its Progression. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science 2021; 62: 6.
  10. Tong et al. Topical Review: Assessment of Binocular Sensory Processes in Low Vision. Optometry and Vision Science. 2021; 98: 310-325


Professor Mark Willcox
Director of Research

Associate Professor Nicole Carnt
Deputy Director of Research

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