In the first week of August, an air of anticipation filled the hallways of the School of Optometry and Vision Science (SOVS). The clock was ticking towards a significant event that had become an annual tradition — the research progress review (RPR) by the higher degree research (HDR) candidates. These presentations weren't just any talks; they were a culmination of months, if not years, of dedicated exploration and hard work.
What made this year's presentations particularly special was the return to in-person sessions. After a period of virtual meetings and remote connections, being able to witness the presenters on stage brought a renewed sense of connection and energy. Transitioning from virtual to in-person presentation is like moving from a silent movie to a live performance. The palpable energy and real-time interactions inject a new level of excitement and, of course, a touch of stage jitters, proving that the heart rate of a PhD student is directly proportional to the number of eyes staring back.
As the event commenced on August 7th, the SOVS auditorium transformed into a hub of knowledge exchange. The candidates, armed with slides, data, and a palpable sense of excitement, took to the stage one after another. They revealed their findings, shared their insights, and answered questions from a diverse audience that included fellow students, mentors, and experts in the field.
During the five-day event, we were treated to a series of diverse research presentations, followed by individual interviews of HDR candidates. A remarkable total of 31 presentations left a significant impact. The first day set the stage with an intriguing range of topics. From exploring virtual reality to harnessing computer vision for human movement, unlocking retinal imaging's secrets, developing disease-specific item banks, and employing eye tracking for myopia control, showcased the diversity of tools and innovative methods used across these studies, all championed by our students. On the second day, the spotlight turned to the ever-engaging realm of myopia research, covering the pupillary responses, myopia control, predictive models, and circadian rhythms, and even the effects of air pollution and environmental factors on ocular health.
Continuing the intellectual journey, the third day explored neuroimmunology, support tools for retinal diseases, sex hormone effects, silicon quantum dots, and antimicrobial efficacy against coronaviruses. The fourth day brought life sciences into focus—microbiology, genomics, immunology, biomedics, and biochemistry on ocular health. The depth of translational research within the school left me truly impressed. Concluding the event, the final day's presentations offered a wide array of insights—global vision impairment, glaucoma prevalence, optical defocus, bionic eye, and online contact lens information. Each day highlighted our students' exceptional commitment and exploration as they unravelled intricate subjects.
Celebrating achievement, Sidra Sarwat won the best presenter award for her engaging talk on, “In-vivo labelling and bioimaging of the tear film using silicon quantum dots.” Sukanya Jaiswal received the runner-up prize for her impactful presentation on “Air pollution impact on ocular health.”
As a fellow student at SOVS, these presentations unveiled the exciting world of translational research within our school. I felt a strong sense of pride being part of this community. Those five days were a true delight, and I can imagine the relief the presenters must be feeling now after their intense efforts. To celebrate, the school organized a fun dinner event, a well-deserved break for everyone.
Congratulations to everyone's accomplishments!