Summer Vacation Research Scholarships will be accepting online applications from 23 July 2019 for students in second year or above of an undergraduate program in the Faculty of Science or a science-related discipline at UNSW or another Australian university.

This scheme enables students to gain valuable research experience, supervised by our international team of academics at state of the art research facilities at UNSW School of Optometry and Vision Science. Visit the scholarships site for more information including application details. 


Current 2019 Summer Vacation Research Projects Available

  • This project will investigate the application of contact lenses for drug delivery properties.  The ability of available contact lens materials will be evaluated for drug uptake and release properties in the laboratory and novel methods to manipulate these drug-material interactions will be explored.

    Supervisor: Dr Alex Hui

  • A randomised, non-dispensing study to evaluate the effect of NovaTears® on tear film characteristics, compared to Hylo-Forte® and preservative-free unit dose saline, up to one hour post-instillation.

    Supervisors: Dr Maria Markoulli and Dr Jacqueline Tan

  • This project aims to explore knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) of people with macular degeneration in Australia.  This project has received ethics approval. A pre-designed KAP survey will be administered to a sample of people with macular degeneration in Australia using paper-based (reply post mailout) scannable questionnaires. The student will be expected to proactively participate in the recruitment of people with macular degeneration. Total and individual domain KAP scores will be summarised using descriptive statistics. Multivariable logistic regression analysis will be performed to assess the effect of factors such as age, gender, location, macular degeneration stage etc. on the overall and sub-domain KAP scores of people with macular degeneration. The student will be involved in data entry, data analysis and interpretation of the research findings.

    Supervisor: Associate Professor Isabelle Jalbert

  • In the eye, the choroid, ciliary body and iris form a vascular pigmented uveal layer between the outer sclera and the inner eye tissues.  in these tissues, the pigmentation comes from the melanocytes, an abundant heterogeneous melanin-containing population within these tissues. melanocytes are especially obvious at the interface between the choroid and sclera, and clearly seen when the choroid is dissected away from the sclera of the eyecup.

    We will examine the scleral interface of formalin-fixed human eye cups to investigate the organisation and patterns of melanocytes at the lamina fusa, particularly related to the blood vessels and nerves in this area.  This will involve using digital imaging and image analysis.

    The project will provide hands-on experience in human eye gross anatomy (dissecting, macrophotography, and imaging), and microscopy.  A greater appreciation of human eye anatomy and cell biology is a further aim of this project.

    Supervisor: Associate Professor Michele Madigan

  • Acanthamoeba causes a rare but severe corneal infection in mainly contact lens wearers.  These patients tend to be of working age and with otherwise good health.  our research has shown that 50% of these patients have treatment for more than 12 months and 1 in 5 require a corneal transplant.  Worryingly, an increasing number of children are being prescribed contact lenses to correct and retard myopia In this study, you will use a large data set of clinical and quality of life data on patients with Acanthamoeba corneal infection to demonstrate the economic cost and lifetime burden of this severe disease. This will hopefully provide impetus for contact lens practitioners, industry and regulators to invest in strategies to mitigate this disease.

    Supervisors: Dr Nicole CarntProfessor Lisa Keay, Dr Nina Tahhan

  • Herpes Simplex Keratitis is a chronic, relapsing infection of the clear, refracting surface of the ye, the conrea.  To maintain the regular strucutre of the cornea for precise vision, it is devoid of blood vessels.  Only in recent years has  a population of tiessue resident antigen presenting cells (APCs) been identified in the cornea.  The roles of these APCs, how they interact with inflammation, the immune system and other cells int he cornea in patients is not well understood. 

    In this project, you will use an explant model of herpes Simplex corneal inflection to determine the tissue response to primary infection, using techniques such as immunofluorescence histology, flow cytometry and protein analysis. In this collaboration between the School of Optometry and Vision Science, UNSW, Centre for Virus Research and Centre for Vision Research at Westmead Institute for Medical Research, you will work with world leading experts in Herpes virus and eye infection research.

    Supervisors: Dr Nicole Carnt, Dr Damien Hunter, Associate Professor Andrew Harmen

  • Contact lens (CL) wear has been recently recognised as a cause of failure of the stem cells of the eye's surface. Poor vision and ocular discomfort follow ocular surface (limbal) stem cell failure. This project is one of the first to examine contact lens wearers for dysfunction of limbal stem cells or damage to their specialised 'niche' environment. With the increasing prevalence of contact lens wear and the use of contact lenses for stem cell replacement therapies, investigation of stem cell damage with contact lens wear has the potential to save sight, improve contact lens design and optimise stem cell replacement therapies.

    In this study, we aim to assess a group of CL wearers in parallel with a group of non-lens wearing healthy 'negative' controls to investigate changes that may suggest limbal stem cell dysfunction. Specialised imaging techniques will be used, and anatomical patterns will be compared to the reported signs in established limbal stem cell deficiency.

    Supervisor: Dr Nicole Carnt