Celebration Profiles – October 9-13
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…
Alisa Braun, BSAlisa is a vision science student, from Bozeman, Montana. She received her BS in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Denver. After graduating, she lived in Thailand and Kazakhstan for two years as a Princeton in Asia fellow. She always knew that she wanted to be a neuroscientist, and she believes that vision is one of the best ways to learn about how we experience and interact with the world. While the visual system is incredibly complex, we can often easily experimentally manipulate our perception to better understand the way it is organized. Her excitement for this process is what has brought her to pursue her PhD at Berkeley.
She is interested in visual perception and how our brain’s processing of visual information can affect our visual experiences. In the past, she worked with Dr. Tim Sweeny doing psychophysical studies on perception and awareness. Her goals are to learn as much as she can about vision and contribute to our quickly evolving knowledge about how we process our experience of the world. Her hobbies include skiing, hiking, camping, attempting to surf, and hanging out with her cat, Halvi.
Robert Lester, OD, FAAORobert Lester (1916–2000) graduated from Berkeley Optometry in 1941. At the onset of World War II, and unable to serve in the military due to his myopia, he opened a private optometric practice in San Francisco, first in a jewelry store and then in a medical building. (He practiced alone in this office until 1973 when his second child, Dr. Stephen Lester, ‘73, joined him in a partnership.) In 1947 Bob Lester joined the full-time clinical faculty at Berkeley Optometry, where he would go on to teach several generations of student interns until his retirement in 1996. Those who worked with and learned from him remember Lester as a highly skilled, influential, and caring mentor.
Encouraged by the dean, Kenneth Stoddard, Dr. Lester established the Contact Lens Clinic at Berkeley Optometry in 1949. He would serve as Chief of Contact Lens Services until 1962. That same year Lester also took over the Contact Lens Laboratory (Optometry 401A, taught previously by fellow Hall of Fame member Meredith Morgan). Lester was largely self-taught, as this was a time when knowledge (mostly anecdotal) about contact lenses was in its infancy and corneal lenses were just being developed. Lester read the scant literature and participated in the few meetings devoted to contact lenses, and he took a course on the fitting of scleral lenses through the University’s Extension Division. Some of the seminars he attended were revelations, including lectures given by such pioneers as Theodore Olbrich and Kevin Tuohy (the latter demonstrated his newly discovered corneal lens patented in 1948).
As an early educator in contact lenses, Dr. Lester demonstrated impressive foresight, emphasizing their importance for future optometric practice. He was also a forerunner in realizing the limitations of soft contact lenses in correcting vision for astigmatic or irregular corneas. Dr. Lester later became the head of the Contact Lens Committee of the California Optometric Association.