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Date: Friday, June 9, 2023
Time: 9:00 AM – 7:30 PM
Location: Sutardja Dai Hall, Banatao Auditorium

Introducing our one-day vision science research symposium, highlighting the outstanding research being done by school faculty and alumni. See below for the program outline.



9:00 AM – John G. Flanagan, PhD, DSc, FCOptom, FAAO
Welcome Message

9:15 to 10:00 AM

9:15 AM – Karla Zadnik, OD, PhD
A PhD degree in Patient-Oriented Research

9:30 AM – Gerald Westheimer, OD, PhD FAAO, FRS
Twin Missions of Berkeley Optometry: Teaching Eye Care and Vision Research

9:45 AM – Martin S. Banks, PhD
The Vision Science Program since 1985

10:00 AM – BREAK

10:25 AM – W. Rowland Taylor, PhD
Introduction to the Sessions

10:30 AM to 12:30 PM

10:30 AM – Yvonne Ou, MD
From Mouse to Primate: Retinal Circuit Disassembly and Reassembly in Glaucoma

11:00 AM – Meng Lin, OD, PhD
A New Focus on Human Meibomian Glands Through the Eyes of AI

11:30 AM – Karsten Gronert, PhD
The Hidden World of Lipid Mediators in Ocular Health and Disease

12:00 PM – T. Rowan Candy, MCOptom, PhD
Providing Typical Visual Experience to Young Infants

12:30 PM – LUNCH

1:30 PM – KEYNOTE: Dennis M. Levi, OD, PhD
Learning to See in 3D

2:30 PM to 4:30 PM

2:30 PM – Nancy McNamara, OD, PhD
Recent Trends and Discoveries in the Management of Dry Eye

3:00 PM – BREAK

3:15 PM – Teresa Puthussery, OD, PhD
Resolving the Functions of Novel Primate Retinal Ganglion Cell Types: A Multimodal Approach

3:45 PM – Michael Webster, PhD
Enduring Mysteries of Color Perception

4:15 PM to 5:45 PM

4:15 PM – John G. Flannery, PhD
Gene Therapy for Blinding Retinal Disease

4:45 PM – Andrew (Beau) Watson, PhD
Modeling and Mitigating Visual Discomfort Due to Flashing Lights in Video

5:15 PM – Austin Roorda, PhD
25 Years of Adaptive Optics for the Eye


6:00 to 7:30 PM – Reception at Faculty Club


Keynote Speaker: Dennis M. Levi, OD, PhD
Professor of Optometry, Vision Science, & Neuroscience, UC Berkeley

Dr. Dennis Levi is a Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, with appointments in the Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry and Vision Science, and the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute. His research focuses on how we see form and depth, and how these are impacted by abnormal early visual development, particularly amblyopia and strabismus. Dr. Levi’s research has been funded by the National Eye Institute (NEI) since 1976. He has received numerous awards including the Glenn Fry Award, the Garland Clay Award and the Prentice Medal from the American Academy of Optometry, and most recently the 2016 Edgar D. Tillyer Award from the Optical Society of America, for his groundbreaking work on treating amblyopia.

You can learn more about Dr. Levi’s research on amblyopia and how virtual reality is being used to treat amblyopia and improve stereo vision by listening to the interview on the BroadEye Podcast at:

Karla Zadnik, OD, PhD
Dean, Ohio State University College of Optometry

Dr. Karla Zadnik is the first woman dean of The Ohio State University College of Optometry, the first woman dean of a state/public school or college of optometry, and a prominent patient-oriented researcher in the field of optometry and vision science.

Dr. Zadnik is also the Glenn A. Fry Professor of Optometry and Physiological Optics, an Ohio State Distinguished Scholar, and the interim dean of The Ohio State University College of Public Health. She serves as the lead dean for the seven health science colleges and chairs the Biomedical Sciences Institutional Review Board. She is a past president of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry and President of the National Board of Examiners in Optometry.

Dr. Zadnik received her OD and PhD degrees from the University of California, Berkeley School of Optometry and was the school’s Alumnus of the Year in 2006. Professor Zadnik is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and a Diplomate in its Section on Cornea, Contact Lenses & Refractive Technologies. She served as the Academy’s President in 2011-12. She received the Glenn A. Fry Award from the American Optometric Foundation in 1995 and the Academy’s Charles F. Prentice Award in 2020. Dr. Zadnik was the Study Chairman for the National Eye Institute-funded Collaborative Longitudinal Evaluation of Ethnicity and Refractive Error (CLEERE) Study for 20 years and chaired the first-ever NEI-funded multicenter study based in optometry, the Collaborative Longitudinal Evaluation of Keratoconus (CLEK) Study. Her research funds from the National Institutes of Health total $40 million across her career.

Gerald Westheimer, OD, PhD FAAO, FRS
Clinical Professor Emeritus of Optometry & Professor of Neurobiology, UC Berkeley

Dr. Gerald Westheimer was born on May 13, 1924 in Berlin, Germany, and emigrated with his family to Australia in 1938 in the wake of the Nazi uprising. He received degrees from Sydney Technical College (Optometry Diploma, 1943); University of Sydney (BSc in mathematics and physiology, 1948); Sydney Technical College (Fellowship Diploma, FSTC, 1950); and The Ohio State University (PhD in Physics, Physiological Optics, 1953), where he was the first Jewish faculty member with tenure.

Dr. Westheimer’s first faculty appointments were at the University of Houston School of Optometry (1953), where there was virtually no support for research, and at The Ohio State University School of Optometry in 1954. After completing a sabbatical year (1958–59) of postdoctoral research at the University of Cambridge, England with an illustrious group of vision researchers, Westheimer joined the faculty at Berkeley Optometry in 1960 as a full-time visiting associate professor. He brought with him two NIH grants, one in collaboration with Fergus Campbell and the other with Cyril Rashbass (both visiting faculty from the research group at Cambridge). All three would later be elected to the Royal Society; Westheimer remains to this day the only optometrist to have received this honor (FRS, 1985). He was given tenure at Berkeley in 1961 and achieved the rank of full professor in 1963.

Inadequate facilities and greater opportunity for expanded neuroscience research attracted Westheimer to the Department of Physiology/Anatomy in 1967, where he was appointed Professor of Physiology (1968-1989). In 1989 Dr. Westheimer established and became the first head of UC Berkeley’s Division of Neurobiology, when he also became Professor of Neurobiology (1989-1994). He later became Professor of the Graduate School, Division of Neurobiology (1994-present). Dr. Westheimer is also Adjunct Professor of Neurobiology, Rockefeller University, NY (1994–present).

From the time of his dissertation research in 1951–53, Westheimer applied linear systems analysis to the study of saccadic and smooth pursuit eye movements. After he transferred to Physiology/Anatomy he continued research in this area, producing papers considered landmarks that are still cited today. Throughout his career Westheimer worked to attain a deeper understanding of human vision. He elucidated the neural control of eye movements and ocular accommodation by using the systems approach to map motor responses in the human, and later employed neurophysiological techniques to outline midbrain and brainstem circuits in the nonhuman primate. Measurement of the optical image of the eye led to the investigation of the retinal and cortical circuitry involved in the processing of spatial visual information, including the analysis of acuity, stereopsis and contextual effects.

Dr. Westheimer has authored of over 250 articles in optical, ophthalmological, optometric, physiological and neurobiological journals and chapters on the eye, ocular motility, and visual optics in handbooks, textbooks, and symposium volumes, including Mountcastle’s Medical Physiology and all editions of Adler’s Physiology of the Eye.

Dr. Westheimer has received many honors, including the Tillyer Medal (Optical Society of America, 1978), the Proctor Medal (Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, 1979), Fellow of the Royal Society of London (1985), International von Sallman Prize in Vision and Ophthalmology (1986), Prentice Medal (American Academy of Optometry, 1986), Bicentennial Medal (Australian Optometric Association, 1988), and Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1994). He was awarded honorary doctorates from the University of New South Wales (1988), the State University of New York (1990), and the University of Tuebingen, Germany (2005).

Martin S. Banks, PhD
Professor of Optometry and Vision Science, Affiliate Professor of Psychology and Bioengineering, UC Berkeley

Dr. Martin S. Dr. Banks was born in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1948. His family moved to California in 1957. He was raised Mormon, but left the church at age 20 and never looked back. He received his Bachelor’s degree at Occidental College in 1970, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Physics. After spending a year in Germany teaching in their school system, he entered graduate school at UC San Diego where he received a Master’s degree in Psychology in 1973. Dr. Banks then moved to the graduate program at the University of Minnesota where he received his Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology in 1976 (once he paid off his library fine). Hoping to never experience winter again, he moved to Texas where he was Assistant and Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin from 1976 to 1985. He moved to UC Berkeley School of Optometry in 1985 where he has been Associate and Full Professor of Optometry and Vision Science until the present. He was Chairman of the Vision Science Program from 1995-2002, and in 2012. He has been an affiliate professor of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Bioengineering since 1986.

Dr. Banks worked initially on the development of human vision. Having grown weary of the difficulty of doing research on human infants, he turned to work on human adults. He has studied spatial vision, perception of self-motion, binocular vision, picture perception, visual displays, oculomotor behavior, and binocular vision. He has also investigated the manner in which information is combined across the senses. He has been very fortunate to be able to work in collaboration with a string of superb graduate students and post-docs.

Dr. Banks has received many awards for his basic and applied research. These include the Young Investigator Award from the National Research Council, McCandless Award from the American Psychological Association, Koffka Medal from Giessen University, Prentice Award from the American Academy of Optometry, Schade Prize from the Society for Information Display, and Tillyer Award from the Optical Society of America. He has also been appointed Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences, Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Fellow of the American Psychological Society, Holgate Fellow of Durham University, WICN Fellow of University of Wales, Honorary Professor of University of Wales, Fellow of the Society for Experimental Psychology, and Borish Scholar of Indiana University. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2019.

W. Rowland Taylor, PhD
Chair, Vision Science Graduate Program & Professor of Optometry and Vision Science, UC Berkeley

Dr. Rowland Taylor is a professor of optometry and vision science and is the chair of the Vision Science Graduate Program. He earned his PhD from the Australian National University and completed postdoctoral training at Stanford, UCSF, and the Max-Plank-Institute in Germany. The goal of Dr. Taylor’s research is to understand how neural circuits within the mammalian retina encode and transmit information about the visual environment. By advancing our understanding of retinal neurobiology, both in the healthy and diseased retina, Dr Taylor hopes to contribute to the development of treatments for visual disorders.Rowland explains that, 'ultimately, understanding circuit function in the healthy and diseased retina will aid in the development of treatments designed to restore sight. To this end, it is essential to understand how the neurons encode visual information, and how the biophysical characteristics and neural architecture constrain the performance of the system. The experimental work emphasizes quantitative measurements of neural responses to natural stimuli in the intact retina. We also perform immunohistochemical studies to localize transmitter receptors and channels within specific neural circuits. Additionally, we construct computer models of neurons and circuits, based on realistic morphologies and neural connectivity, and run simulations of circuit function to further test our understanding, and to generate experimentally testable predictions.'

Yvonne Ou, MD
Ophthalmologist, Glaucoma Specialist, Glaucoma and Cataract Surgeon, Vision Researcher, & Professor of Ophthalmology at UCSF School of Medicine

Dr. Yvonne Ou is Professor of Ophthalmology, Vice Chair for Postgraduate Education, and Academic Director of the Glaucoma Division in the Department of Ophthalmology at UCSF. She is also the Co-Director of the UCSF-Proctor K12 Clinician Vision Scholars Program. Dr. Ou received her B.A. and M.D., both magna cum laude, from Harvard. She underwent residency training at the Jules Stein Eye Institute, UCLA, and then completed both clinical and postdoctoral fellowships at Duke University. She is the recipient of the Young Investigator Award from the Alcon Research Institute and the Dr. Douglas H. Johnson Award for Glaucoma Research from the BrightFocus Foundation.

Dr. Ou specializes in the treating glaucoma with medical, laser, and surgical therapies, the latter including cataract surgery, minimally invasive procedures, filtering surgery, and drainage implant surgery.

The research interests of the Ou laboratory are in the area of neurodegeneration, circuit disassembly and reassembly, and neuronal plasticity. The team is studying the cellular and synaptic mechanisms of retinal ganglion cell degeneration and identifying specific types of ganglion cells and circuits that are particularly susceptible, with an eye for improving diagnostic and treatment modalities for patients. The group also has developed translational applications from the team’s laboratory findings, specifically novel clinical ERG paradigms and virtual-reality based oculokinetic perimetry for glaucoma diagnostics. Most recently, the Ou lab is part of an Audacious Goals Initiative team tackling barriers to retinal ganglion cell transplantation as a vision restoration strategy.

Meng Lin, OD, PhD
Director, UC Berkeley Clinical Research Center (CRC); Chief, Ocular Surface Imaging Clinic; Co-Chief, Dry Eye Clinic; Professor of Clinical Optometry & Vision Science, UC Berkeley

Dr. Meng Lin is known for her clinical research investigating ethnic/racial differences in ocular surface physiology and tear film stability. Her current research focuses on mechanisms responsible for tear film stability in healthy and dry eyes, contact lens discomfort, and ocular surface changes due to topical ophthalmic interventions (such as traditional/specialty contact lenses and topical ophthalmic medications). Dr. Lin has also studied the interplay between morphological changes and functions of Meibomian glands using the application of machine learning. In addition to her own research, she has received federal and private-sector funding for collaborative clinical trials, many of which focus on diagnosis, treatment, and management of contact lens discomfort and dry eye disease. Professor Lin provides direct and personalized care to patients who suffer from dry eye symptoms. With more than two decades of clinical research and patient-care experience, Dr. Lin has extensive knowledge to manage the most challenging dry eye cases.

Dr. Lin received her OD from the Ohio State University in 1996 and completed her residency in Anterior-segment diseases and Specialty Contact Lenses at the University of Alabama in 1997. Dr. Lin received her PhD at the Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry & Vision Science in 2002 and received her Post-Doctoral training at Public Health and Chemical Engineering at UC Berkeley in 2005.

Karsten Gronert, PhD
Professor of Optometry and Vision Science, UC Berkeley

Dr. Karsten Gronert joined the University of California, Berkeley Faculty in 2007, was tenured in 2011 and promoted to Professor in the School of Optometry in 2014. He was Chair of the Vision Science Graduate Program (2014-2018). He is also a member of the Infectious Diseases and Immunity Program at UC Berkeley. His research interests are focused on elucidating the role and regulation of intrinsic lipid circuits that control healthy & routine execution of ocular surface immune responses and maintain homeostasis & neuroprotection in the retina.

T. Rowan Candy, MCOptomm, PhD
Executive Associate Dean for Academic Affairs; Professor of Optometry, Indiana University

Dr. Rowan Candy earned her Membership of the British College of Optometrists after completing her BSc in Optometry at the University of Wales, Cardiff. She then earned her Ph.D. in Vision Science from the University of California, Berkeley and completed her postdoctoral work at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco. She is now Professor of Optometry and Vision Science at the Indiana University School of Optometry with an adjunct appointment in Psychological and Brain Sciences and membership of IU’s Neuroscience and Cognitive Science programs. Dr. Candy mentors graduate students, postdocs and undergraduates in her research laboratory and currently serves as the Executive Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the IU School of Optometry.

The focus of Dr. Candy's research program is on studies of both normal and abnormal visual development with a view to preventing common conditions including amblyopia and various types of strabismus. Funded by the National Institutes of Health since 2003, this research has modified technical methods based in optics, neuroscience, and experimental psychology to give researchers and clinicians an understanding of how the developing brain coordinates its own visual experience through its ocular motor responses. Dr. Candy is part of the Vision Sciences Society and is a fellow of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.

Nancy McNamara, OD, PhD, MS
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Chief; Professor of Optometry; UC Berkeley Sjogren’s Clinic; Co-Chief, UC Berkeley Dry Eye Clinic

Nancy McNamara, OD, PhD, MS is currently the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of California Berkeley, Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry and Vision Science. She graduated from the Michigan College of Optometry and completed a cornea/contact lens residency at UC Berkeley in 1992. Following residency, Dr. McNamara earned her Ph.D. in Vision Science at UC Berkeley and embarked on a research career at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) where she studied the cellular and molecular mechanisms of ocular inflammation, infection, and dry eye disease. She returned to UC Berkeley to establish and co-direct the University Eye Center, Dry Eye Clinic and recently completed a Master of Science in Health Policy and Law at UCSF/UC Hastings School of Law.

Dr. McNamara continues an active translational research program that includes both basic science studies to define the mechanisms underlying dry eye disease development at UCSF and clinical studies to test innovative new therapies for clinical care at UCB. She established and currently directs UC Berkeley’s Sjogren’s Clinic, a multidisciplinary care center for Sjogren’s patients. Most recently, she joined UCSF and several top research institutions in the United States to form the Sjogren’s Team for Accelerating Medicines partnerships, an NIH funded partnership aiming to integrate deep clinical phenotypic and systems biology data to identify precise therapeutic targets for Sjogren’s patients.

Teresa Puthussery, OD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Optometry & Vision Science, UC Berkeley

Dr. Puthussery received her Bachelor of Optometry and PhD in Neurobiology from the University of Melbourne before completing postdoctoral training in the Department of Ophthalmology at Oregon Health & Science University. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Optometry & Vision Science in the Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry and Vision Science and the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute. She is the recipient of a Hellman Fellows Award, a Glaucoma Research Foundation Shaffer Award and the UC Berkeley Faculty Award for Outstanding Mentorship of Graduate Student Instructors.

Dr Puthussery’s research combines optical imaging, electrophysiology and molecular methods to understand the structure and function of cell types and circuits in the normal retina. Her work also seeks to determine how retinal circuits are altered by neurodegenerative diseases that cause photoreceptor degeneration. Her research is funded by grants from the National Eye Institute (NEI), including an Audacious Goals Initiative Grant focused on testing cell-based therapies for vision restoration after photoreceptor degeneration.

Michael Webster, PhD
Professor of Psychology, University of Nevada at Reno

Dr. Michael Webster studies the neural and cognitive mechanisms that underlie color and form perception. His research is primarily focused on understanding how adaptation calibrates our perception for properties of the visual environment or the observer (e.g. during aging or visual deficits). He has discovered a number of novel forms of adaptation that have an impact on how we perceive colors, how we adjust to blurry vision, and how the perception of faces depends on the faces we have seen previously.

Dr. Webster earned his BA from UC San Diego in 1981 and his Ph.D, in Psychology at UC Berkeley in 1988. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Cambridge for 6 years prior to joining the faculty at the University of Nevada, Reno in 1994, where he is currently a foundation professor. His research has been funded by NIH since 1989. At UNR he also established and co-directs both the undergraduate and graduate programs in Neuroscience, and directs the university’s Center for Integrative Neuroscience (supported by a $25 million NIH COBRE award). He received UNR’s Outstanding Researcher Award in 2011 and the Verriest Medal from the International Colour Vision Society in 2019, and is a fellow of Optica and a former member of the board of directors for the Vision Sciences Society.

John G. Flannery, PhD
Professor of Neurobiology, Dept. Molecular & Cell Biology, UC Berkeley & Assoc. Director, Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute

Dr. John Flannery is a Professor of Optometry and Vision Science at the Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry & Vision Science, and Professor of Neurobiology, in the Department of Molecular & Cell Biology. Dr. Flannery writes that “our lab seeks to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying diseases of the retina as well as develop novel therapies for their treatment. Retinal Degeneration and blindness result from the loss of rod and cone photoreceptors due to mutations in these cells or in their closely interacting and supportive retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), from environmental or poorly defined age-related factors, or the actions of other retinal neurons, glia or vascular elements.

Relatively little is known about precisely why photoreceptors die in many of the different retinal degenerations, and virtually no effective therapy exists for most of these diseases. One of the major goals of our laboratory is to develop therapeutic approaches that will slow or prevent the loss of rods, cones, RPE and other cells in retinal degenerations. The approaches we are using include the development of next-generation adeno-associated viral vectors for therapeutic gene delivery, gene editing technologies, and the expression of genetically encoded light-sensitive molecules to restore light sensitivity to the retina.

Andrew (Beau) Watson, PhD
Chief Vision Scientist, Apple

Andrew B. Watson is the Senior Vision Scientist at Apple, Inc. Previously, he was Senior Scientist for Vision Research at NASA Ames Research Center in California. He attended Columbia University for his undergraduate studies, the University of Pennsylvania for his PhD in Psychology, and the University of Cambridge in England for his postdoctoral work. Dr. Watson has written more than 100 papers and received seven patents on subjects related to vision science and imaging technology. He established the Journal of Vision in 2001 and held the position of Editor in Chief. Dr. Watson is a Fellow of the Society for Information Display, the Optical Society of America, and the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. He serves as the International Committee on Display Measurement's Vice Chairman for Vision Science and Human Factors.

Dr. Watson leads the application of vision science to Apple technologies, applications, devices and displays. His work focuses on the use of vision science in imaging technology and computational models of early vision. He is the recipient of several awards, including the Edgar D. Tillyer Award, the H. Julian Allen Award from NASA, the Otto Schade Award from the Society for Information Display, the Special Recognition Award from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, and the Gilles Holst Award from Philips Research and The Technical University of Eindhoven. Dr. Watson received the Presidential Rank Award from the President of the United States in 2011. He is a Fellow of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the Society for Information Display, and Optica.

Austin Roorda, PhD
Head Graduate Advisor, Vision Science Program & Professor, Vision Science Program, UC Berkeley

Dr. Austin Roorda has pioneered applications of adaptive optics and ophthalmoscopy, including mapping of the trichromatic cone mosaic, designing and building the first adaptive-optics scanning laser ophthalmoscope, tracking and targeting light delivery to individual cones in the human eye, and being part of the first team to use adaptive-optics imaging to monitor efficacy of a treatment to slow retinal degeneration.

He is a member of UC Berkeley’s Vision Science, Neuroscience and Bioengineering graduate programs. He is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America and of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. Notable awards are the Glenn Fry Award from the American Academy of Optometry (2009), John Guggenheim Fellowship (2014), Alcon Research Institute Award (2016) and a Leverhulme Visiting Professorship at Oxford University (2020).