In 2023, our team at UNSW expanded to approximately 80 members, dedicated to enhancing our support for teaching, research, and social impact. Whilst celebrating our growth, we also bid farewell to some valued colleagues this year.

New Staff, New Roles & Farewell’s

This year our course convenors were greatly supported by our Associate Lecturer team: Sidra Sarwat, Rehana Khan, Fatima Iqbal, Rabia Mobeen, Parthu Kalaiselvan, Srikanth Dumpati, Meri Galoyan, Ashleigh Chandra, Sophia Zhang, and Azadeh Tavakoli.

We were fortunate to have Associate Professor Ann Webber join SOVS team in 2023 working closely with myself and Associate Professor Maria Markoulli.  Ann undertook a strategic review of our teaching curriculum which we will present to staff at the upcoming offsite retreat to be held in February 2024.  She also worked with our Public Health team on a research project in collaborative care and created our new Advanced Paediatric Eye Care short course.  This will commence in February 2024 with Ann as the Facilitator and course convenor.  We are now taking enrolments see here for further information.

We welcomed back Dr Daisy Shu to her alma mater from the Department of Ophthalmology of the Harvard Medical School at Schepens Eye Research Institute of Mass Eye and Ear.  Daisy was appointed as a Scientia Senior Lecturer through the highly prestigious "UNSW Scientia Program which has been established as a cornerstone of the UNSW 2025 Strategy, to attract and retain the highest research performers on a trajectory to being exceptional research leaders and mentors".  Her research is focused on understanding the role of mitochondria and metabolism in retinal eye diseases including age-related macular degeneration and proliferative vitreoretinopathy. 

Rene Cheung joined SOVS in December in a part time position as a Lecturer and has been appointed as the course convenor for the Graduate Certificate in Ocular Therapeutics.  She is also currently undertaking her PhD which explores barriers and facilitators to accessing retinal imaging and image processing techniques for enhancing OCT interpretation in outer retinal disease. 

Our friendly reception team in the UNSW Optometry Clinic, Melanie Hull and Dan Pua, came on board and we are excited to have them assist the Dispensing team. 

We were delighted to have long term staff member Jasmine Larden commence in a new position as an Administration Officer in the School Office.  Jasmine supports our School Manager and Director of Learning and Teaching.

During 2023, Dr Kath Watt took up the one-year NEXUS Fellowship within UNSW.  Kath was the first academic at UNSW to commence in this role which focuses on  teaching innovation projects.  The Nexus program is University-wide initiative to support the implementation of new teaching practices into Faculties and Schools.  During Kath’s secondment to this role, Scientia Associate Professor Nicole Carnt has taken on the role of Acting Director of Clinical Teaching in the UNSW Optometry Clinic. Nicole has been supported in this role by Katariina Pakarinen who was appointed earlier this year as the new UNSW Optometry Clinic Practice Manager.

We sincerely thank Associate Professor Maria Markoulli who has done an outstanding job this year as Acting Director of Learning and Teaching.  In January 2024, Dr Pauline Kang will resume back in this role following her return from parental leave.  

This year we farewelled longstanding staff members Associate Professor Blanka Golebiowski who was our previous Postgraduate Research Coordinator, Vision Science Honours Coordinator and Researcher.  We also farewelled Dr Ajay Vijay, Research Fellow and PC1&2 Lab Manager and Muhammad Kaleem from our ORLAB team.  We thank Blanka, Ajay and Muhammad for their outstanding contributions to the School and wish them all the best for the future. 

We bid goodbye to Akshay Rai, who worked in the Public Health team and Rajesh Kuppusamy, Minh Phan, Ha Duong, Cindy Karouta, Divya Ashari Kandy and Samrat Sankar who worked in our research teams.  We thank them for their contributions and service to the School.


During 2023 we were delighted to have Dr Vinod Maseedupally promoted to Senior Lecturer in July.

Dr’s Jackie Tan-Showyin and Maitreyee Roy were promoted to Associate Professor and Dr’s Jessie Huang-Lung and Sheela Kumaran promoted to Lecturer, all effective 1 January 2024.

Congratulations on these well-deserved promotions.

National and International Awards

This year we were excited to have our staff acknowledged with some national and international awards.

Scientia Professor Fiona Stapleton was honoured in the Australian Kings Birthday Honours List with an Officer of the Order (AO) “for her distinguished service to optometry as a researcher, mentor and role model, to tertiary education, and to national and international organisations”.

Conjoint Professor Arthur Ho, one of our longest serving academics was honoured with a Member of the Order (AM) in the Kings Birthday Honours List for his "significant service to optometry as a researcher, designer and educator".

The Late Richard Grills (one of our former Visiting Committee members) was posthumously honoured with a Member of the Order (AM) in the Kings Birthday Honours List for his “significant service to community eye health, and to the ophthalmic optics industry”.

Associate Professor Maria Markoulli received the American Academy of Optometry Korb-Exford Dry Eye Award

Fiona Stapleton (ranked # 2) and Mark Willcox (ranked # 7) as the top contact lens experts in the world by Expertscape  and UNSW SOVS was named the top institution in the world for contact lens research once again

Professor Mark Willcox was awarded a Doctor of Science (DSc) from the University of Waterloo, Canada. 

Emeritus Professor Eric Papas had a stellar year and came away with the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) Medal.  The British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) Medal is the highest honour and is bestowed to an individual for “outstanding achievement in the field of contact lenses and/or anterior eye.”

Eric also was bestowed with the Charles F. Prentice Medal Award from the American Academy of Optometry.  “This is awarded annually to a distinguished scientist or clinician scientist in recognition of a career-long record of advancement of knowledge in vision science.”

Dr Daisy Shu was recognised with a George K. Michalopoulos Junior Faculty Scholar Award from the American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP).  "The award recognizes the outstanding research being conducted by ASIP Regular and Next-Generation Scientist members who are employed as Junior Faculty at institutions around the world.” 

Our congratulations to Dr Jessie Huang-Lung and co-authors Blake Angell, Anna Palagyi, Hugh R Taylor, Andrew White, Peter McCluskey, Lisa Keay who have been awarded the Best Paper Award by The Sax Institute for the Annual Public Health Research & Practice Excellence Awards.  Their paper titled "The true cost of hidden waiting times for cataract surgery in Australia" took out the top prize this year.

UNSW Awards

At the start of December 2023, we held our end-of-year lunch with our staff and higher degree research students.  

Sydney put on some excellent weather for the day and we celebrated with the following School awards:

  • Juno Kim – Demonstrates Excellence 

  • Lisa Nivison-Smith – Drives Innovation 

  • Matthew Walker - Builds Collaboration 

  • Kathleen Watt - Embraces Diversity 

  • Jasmine Larden - Displays Respect 

  • Jerome Ozkan - Academic Excellence: Research 

  • Amanda Lea - Academic Excellence: Education 

  • Katariina Pakarinen - Social Engagement  

  • Vinod Maseedupally - Global Impact 

  • Wilson Luu - Student Experience 

We acknowledge our staff who were recognised with UNSW awards this year:

  • Deputy Head of School Sieu Khuu received an UNSW Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching. 

  • Dr Maitreyee Roy received a Faculty of Medicine & Health Educational Excellence Award: Academic Staff.

  • Michelle Bonanno was part of the Work Integrated Learning team who won the Enabling Educational Excellence Award (Professional and Technical staff) at the Faculty of Medicine & Health Awards.

  • Scientia Senior Lecturer Dr Lisa Nivison-Smith received a UNSW Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Higher Degree Research Supervision – Emerging Supervisor.

  • Associate Professor Blanka Golebiowski was honoured with an Arc Postgraduate Supervisor Award.

  • Amanda Lea and Dr Daisy Shu received Honourable Mentions in the UNSW Exemplary Teaching Practice Awards.


As we bid farewell to 2023, we reflect on a year marked by outstanding achievements and growth.  2023 has seemed like a year where we can divert our efforts to strategic goals rather than being reactive.  It certainly feels like we are emerging strong, post-pandemic.  Our team’s dedication and excellence have been recognised through numerous prestigious awards, underscoring our commitment to excellence. 

We are delighted to welcome talented new members who have joined our SOVS family, bringing fresh perspectives and energy to our collective vision.  Simultaneously, we express our heartfelt appreciation to those team members who have moved on to new adventures, carrying with them the indelible mark of their contributions.  We look forward to building on this momentum and to a successful 2024.