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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…

August 28th

Taishi Painter, BA

Taishi is a PhD student at the Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry & Vision Science. He was born in Japan, and grew up in the Bay Area. He finished his undergrad with a BA in Molecular Cell Biology at UC Berkeley. During his undergraduate studies, he worked in the Gong Lab studying cataractogenesis in different mice models. He used different imaging tools such as OCT and confocal microscopy to study cataract morphology and development in different genetic backgrounds. Taishi joined Berkeley Vision Science to gather a greater understanding of high-resolution imaging techniques that can be applied to uncover and observe all different kinds of molecular processes. He would like to study cataractogenesis and uncover mechanisms behind lens calcification through the use of different imaging techniques. Taishi’s goal is to become a vision scientist in the areas of lens development and cataract prevention.

August 29th

Ursula Moonsamy, OD

Dr. Ursula Moonsamy (OD ‘97), is the owner of two Optometry practices, Eye Care Optometry and Eye Care For You, both located in Oakland, CA. She was recently featured in the Berkeley Optometry Magazine (Page 24) where she talked about growing up in South Africa, the hardships of living under Apartheid, the joy of casting a vote for Nelson Mandela, the instinct to make a difference, and her favorite books. On her choice of career she says, “I had the strong urge to be in a profession where I felt I could make a difference in people’s lives. I feel so fortunate that Berkeley more than adequately equipped me to make that difference.”

August 30th

Michael G. Harris, OD, JD, MS, FAAO

Dr. Michael G. Harris graduated from the UC Berkeley School of Optometry where he received his Master of Optometry (1965), Doctor of Optometry (1966, as one of the first four graduates to receive the School’s newly established OD degree), and Master of Science in Physiological Optics (1968) degrees. He is Clinical Professor Emeritus and Senior Lecturer Emeritus at the School of Optometry, where he has served as a faculty member for over 50 years. Dr. Harris received a Juris Doctor degree from John F. Kennedy University School of Law in 1985 and began lecturing, writing, and consulting on legal and ethical issues in health care, especially optometry, an area in which Dr. Harris is recognized as a leading legal expert in vision care and optometric jurisprudence.

Dr. Harris, always a dedicated educator, trained thousands of optometrists, taught over 50 different courses in the curriculum, supervised 80 OD theses, and mentored 33 optometric residents. He served as Assistant/Associate Chief and then Chief of the Contact Lens Clinic for over 30 years. Dr. Harris was Director of the School of Optometry’s Residency Program (1993–95) and Associate Dean for Student Affairs for nearly a decade. A noted lecturer and researcher in cornea physiology and contact lenses, Dr. Harris is the co-discoverer of the osmotic theory for contact lens adaptation (1968–69) and co-author of the first scientific paper that proved gas-permeable contact lenses produced less corneal edema than hard (PMMA) contact lenses (1977).

He has lectured worldwide and has authored or coauthored over 200 scientific papers and articles on contact lenses, corneal physiology, optometric jurisprudence, and other topics. Dr. Harris has also published four texts on contact lenses and contributed chapters on contact lenses and vision care law in numerous books. Dr. Harris has served as a consultant on optometric jurisprudence, standard of care, ethics, corneal physiology, optometric procedures, contact lenses, and hypnosis to educational, professional, industrial, and governmental organizations, including the FDA. Michael Harris has also been active in civic and community affairs. He has served three terms as Mayor of the City of Pleasant Hill, California where he has been a Councilmember for over 11 years, Past-President of the East Bay Division of the League of California Cities, and Chair of the Contra Costa County Mayors’ Conference.

Among his many honors and awards, Dr. Harris was named the Max Schapero Memorial Lecturer (1995) by the American Academy of Optometry, and Alumnus of the Year (1999) and Peters Memorial Lecturer (2000) by the Optometry Alumni Association of the University of California. Dr. Harris has been a generous benefactor to the School of Optometry and the profession. He is the grantor of the Michael G. Harris Family Scholarship Fund (1999), a Professional Student Support Fund (2006), an Excellence in Leadership Professional Student Support Fund (2008), and the Dr. Michael G. Harris Cornea and Contact Lens Residency Graduate Student Support Endowed Fund (2009) at the School of Optometry, as well as the American Optometric Foundation’s Michael G. Harris Family Award for Excellence in Optometric Education (2001), and the American Academy of Optometry’s Student Leadership Travel Fellowship (2002) and Harris Ezell Fellowship (2010).

August 31st

Celia Gong, OD

Dr. Celia Gong is an assistant clinical professor at the Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry & Vision Science. She specializes in myopia management, specialty contact lenses (orthokeratology, gas permeable, multifocal, and scleral lenses), and corneal pathology (keratoconus, post-surgical corneas, irregular corneas). Dr. Gong is currently a sub-investigator for two clinical trials investigating the efficacy and safety of low-dose atropine drops for myopia control. She is also a native to the San Francisco/Bay Area and enjoys spending time testing new recipes and exploring hiking trails.

September 1st

Lauren King, BS

Lauren King is a Class of 2025 optometry student, and a Little Rock, Arkansas native. Lauren completed her undergraduate studies at Loyola University in New Orleans where she graduated with a BS in Biological Sciences Pre-Health, and a minor in African American Studies. After graduation Lauren moved across the country to begin her optometric journey at Berkeley Optometry!

Lauren has always had a passion for assisting others within and even outside of the healthcare field. As a leadership-driven student, passionate about building connections, diversifying the optometric field, and equitable patient care; Optometry was a clear choice for Lauren after seeing firsthand the impact of ocular disease through familial experiences. These experiences have compelled her to become an optometrist who focuses on improving outcomes in underrepresented populations, while at the same time having an opportunity to serve a greater community holistically.

Lauren is proud to be an Optobear because she values the close knit community. Lauren served as a 2022-23 Berkeley Optometry Student Ambassador, where she assisted others in learning more about the optometric field and what Berkeley Optometry has to offer. She is also Vice President of the University of California Optometric Student Association (UCOSA). Click here to watch Lauren’s “Day in the Life” video.

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