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In honor of our centennial anniversary, we are featuring members of our optometry community — past and present — each day of 2023!

See below for this week’s profiles.

This Week, We Are Celebrating…

April 24th

Emily Cooper, PhD

Dr. Emily Cooper (PhD ‘12), is an assistant professor at the Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry and Vision Science. She is a member of the Vision Science Program and the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute. Dr. Cooper is also a co-Director of the Center for Innovation in Vision & Optics. Her research examines topics such as 3D vision, perceptual graphics, assistive technology, and visual encoding. In 2022, she received the Hellman Fellows Award, which supports early career faculty who have shown evidence of their promise for distinction in research.

April 25th

Sandhya Andrews, BA

Sandhya Andrews is the Optometry Program Coordinator in the Admissions and Student Affairs Office. Sandhya (she/her/hers) is originally from the Bay Area. In 2022, she received her BA in Sociology and Education Sciences from UC Irvine. During undergrad, Sandhya had the opportunity to work in the housing sector of higher education at UC Irvine and discovered her interest for the higher education field.

As the Optometry Program Coordinator, Sandhya assists in advising and planning events for Optometry and Vision Science students. In her free time, Sandhya enjoys spending time with her dog (Warrior), painting, and scouting out new food places.

April 26th

Xiaohua Gong, PhD

Dr. Xiaohua Gong is a professor of optometry and vision science at the Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry & Vision Science. His lab, by using experimental tools in genetics, molecular and cellular biology, biochemistry, and tissue engineering, investigates the underlying mechanisms of eye growth and disease development to understand how the eyeball focuses light and forms a clear image. Current research topics include: lens development and cataract formation, function and regulation of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), and Signal transduction in retinal and choroidal endothelial cells.

April 27th

Morton D. Sarver, OD, MS, FAAO

Dr. Morton Sarver (1922–1986) earned an undergraduate degree in engineering from The Ohio State University in 1943 and then served with the US Army Corps of Engineers in the Philippines at the end of World War II. He returned to school and graduated from Berkeley Optometry in 1947.

Dr. Sarver began teaching at Berkeley Optometry in 1954. In addition to his work at Berkeley, he operated a successful optometric practice on College Avenue in Oakland, which he started in 1947. In 1961, Dr. Sarver became Chair of the Contact Lens Curriculum Committee.

He made pioneering contributions in contact lens design and in the effects of soft contact lens wear on corneal physiology, including corneal edema. His early clinical research contributed to improved success rates with PMMA lenses. In the 1970s he turned his attention to the development of hydrogel contact lenses, and he also pioneered some of the first research on physiological responses to gas-permeable contact lenses, while also publishing important papers on optics and fitting characteristics. In 1975 Sarver was one of the first doctors of optometry to achieve academic (tenure) faculty status on the Berkeley campus.

Lastly, he was a devoted instructor, teaching courses in contact lenses and practice management. Perhaps the most well-mannered and best organized clinical instructor ever to teach at Berkeley Optometry, he directed or participated in the contact lens course for 25 years (more than 1,500 students) and presented over 150 CE lectures to practitioners, influencing an entire generation of optometrists through his insightful research and teaching. In 1970 Sarver wrote the school’s Contact Lens Syllabus, revising it repeatedly into the 1980s. In addition, over fourteen doctoral theses were completed under his chairmanship.

April 28st

Etchi Ako, BS

Etchi Ako is a vision science student from Fontana, CA, and graduated with her BS in Bioengineering from UC Riverside. She conducted research under Dr. Victor Rodgers in collaboration with Dr. Byron Ford. Her project investigated the molecular mechanisms of Neuregulin-1 (NRG-1), a potential treatment for ischemic stroke. They primarily focused on how NRG-1 treatment affects gene expression in rat models.

Etchi has always been interested in restoring vision. She was inspired by her grandmother who lost her vision to glaucoma, and she wishes more could be done to help her and others who are visually impaired. She would like to expand her knowledge of vision science to help others who can relate to her situation. Etchi would like to study gene therapies and treatments for retinal diseases. She aspires to create and improve treatments for degenerative ocular diseases. She would like to ultimately pursue a career in pharmaceutical engineering and educate communities on ocular diseases. Etchi’s hobbies include Muay Thai, cooking, anime, and fashion.

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