Associate Professor Maria Markoulli
Associate Professor

Associate Professor Maria Markoulli

PhD MOptom GradCertOcTher FBCLA FAAO

Medicine & Health
School of Optometry and Vision Science

Dr Maria Markoulli is an Optometrist and Associate Professor at the School of Optometry and Vision Science at UNSW. Her research interests lie within tear film biochemistry and the ocular surface. In particular, her research goals are to:

  1. understand the impact that systemic disease, such as diabetes, can have on corneal nerves and tear film biochemistry
  2. characterise the impact of dry eye disease and meibomian gland dysfunction on the ocular surface and identify effective treatments
  3. minimise contact lens-related adverse events








  • 2022 Australian Council of Graduate Research Excellence in Graduate Research  Leadership: Special Commendation
  • 2021 UNSW Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Higher Degree Research Leadership
  • 2019 UNSW ARC Postgraduate Supervisor Award
  • 2019 UNSW Women in Maths and Science Champion
  • 2019 UNSW School of Optometry and Vision Science Research Excellence Award
  • 2017 UNSW Vice-Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence
  • 2016 Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation travel grant
  • 2015 Certificate for Teaching Excellence (Faculty of Science, UNSW)
  • 64th Meeting of the Nobel Laureates, Lindau, Germany: Selected by the Group of Eight and the Australian Academy of Science to attend, 2014
  • UNSW Early Career Researchers grant 2013
  • William C. Ezell Fellowship (American Optometric Foundation), 2009 & 2010
  • OVRF-Maki Shiobara Scholarship, 2010 
  • Tear Film and Ocular Surface Travel Award, 2010
  • Cornea and Contact Lens Society of Australia Scholarship, 2010
  • Postgraduate Research Scheme Scholarship, 2010
  • Australian Postgraduate Award (Australian Government), 2008-2011
  • Ciba Vision Pty Ltd Prize for Excellence in Contact Lenses, 2004
  • David Bard Scholarship (University of New South Wales), 2002
  • Faculty of Science Scholarship for 4 years (University of New South Wales), 2000-2003


  • OPTM6400: Course convenor for 'Optometric Preclinical Practice' in Term 1 (MClinOptom students)
  • Academic lead for the UNSW Dry Eye Clinic
  • Dry eye lectures

Engagement and Leadership

  • Director of Learning and Teaching
  • Postgraduate Coordinator 2017-2022
  • Deputy Editor: Clinical and Experimental Optometry
  • Board member: The Optical Foundation
  • Tear Film and Ocular Surface (TFOS) Young Investigator committee member
  • TFOS International Workshop on Contact Lens Discomfort Subcommittee member
  • TFOS Dry Eye Workshop II Subcommittee member
  • TFOS "A lifestyle epidemic: ocular surface disease" Steering Committee member and Sub-committee chair

Professional memberships

  • Optometrists Association of Australia
  • Ezell Club, American Optometric Foundation
  • Fellow and Member of the American Academy of Optometry
  • Fellow and Member of British Contact Lens Association
  • Member and Councillor of the International Society of Contact Lens Researchers
  • TFOS
  • Association for researchers in vision and ophthalmology

Research Groups

Research Topics

  • Dry eye: contact lens wear, innervation and symptoms
  • Ocular surface disease: biomarkers, diabetes, obesity and nutrition, multiple sclerosis, migraines, chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy
  • Tear film biochemistry, ocular homeostasis and pathology
+612 9065 7355
School of Optometry and Vision Science, University of New South Wales Level 3 North Wing Rupert Myers Building, Gate 14 Barker Street, UNSW Sydney NSW 2052 Australia

My research program exploits the accessibility of the tear film and the transparency of the cornea to research ways to better characterise, diagnose and monitor ocular and systemic diseases. Specifically, my research program aims to: 

  1. understand the impact that systemic diseases such as diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, chronic kidney disease and treatment with chemotherapy have on corneal nerves and tear film biochemistry, and to use these findings to produce improved diagnostic markers that will help monitor progression of disease and the effect of therapy.
  2. characterise the impact of contact lenses, dry eye disease and meibomian gland dysfunction on the ocular surface and identify effective treatments to minimise these changes.