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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…

July 10th

Benjamin Harwood

Ben is the Director of Foundation Relations & Strategic Initiatives for Development & Alumni Relations (DAR). He was born in New Jersey but grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a successful development leader with extensive experience in securing funds for conservation, education, youth and recreation programs, parks and other public lands, community outreach programs serving diverse audiences, and partnerships between public and private sectors.

Prior to starting his current role with the Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry and Vision Science, for 14 years he worked for the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, the official nonprofit partner to the GGNRA (National Park Service). His previous work has been primarily focused on securing grants for operations and programs, principally from institutional funding sources (foundations, corporations, and government). Ben is thrilled for the opportunity to help achieve the major campaign goals of The Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry and Vision Science.

Ben actively enjoys our region’s extraordinary coast and open space, and loves spending time with his family.

July 11th

Henry B. Peters, OD, MA, FAAO

Henry Peters graduated from Berkeley Optometry with highest honors in 1938 and received an MA in Educational Psychology from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He became a part-time instructor at Berkeley Optometry, working in ophthalmic optics, anisekonia and public-health optometry.

In 1962, he decided to sell his private practice and join the faculty full-time, with an academic appointment as Assistant Dean and Associate Professor of Optometry, plus a concurrent position as Associate Professor in the School of Public Health. In 1969, Peters left Berkeley to become founding Dean at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Optometry (1969–1986). While there, he established the first optometric clinical teaching program in the Birmingham VA Medical Center.

Dr. Peters is well known for coauthoring the celebrated Orinda Study, a statistical survey of 1,221 students (grades 1–8) in Orinda, California. He worked together with other optometrists, ophthalmologists and health officers to complete, in 1959, one of the most important vision screening research experiments ever completed. The study design became a model for testing the visual health of school-aged children, leading to refinements and the development of vision screening programs throughout the United States.

July 12th

Matangi Kumar, BS

Matangi is a vision science student from Artesia, California. She finished her undergrad at UC Davis in 2021, majoring in Genetics and Genomics and minoring in Psychology. During undergrad, she got the opportunity to research under Dr. Megan Dennis studying Human Specefic Segmental Duplications, and she got to intern under Dr. Evan Snyder and Dr. Sandra Leibel studying the vascularization of lung organoids. She has always wanted to be a scientist, and being able to apply what she has learned through research in undergrad had been so exciting! She has always been fascinated about the molecular mechanisms of degenerative and age-related diseases, especially in the context of the eye, and the multi-disciplinary nature of UCB’s vision science program allows her to pursue all of her research interests and will help her grow to be a well-rounded scientist.

She is currently researching in Dr. Karsten Gronert’s lab where she is studying how lipid mediators can be neuroprotective in neurodegenerative diseases such as glaucoma. Currently, she is interested in understanding the mechanism of muller glia and it’s reactivity in the pathology of glaucoma and whether lipid mediators have any affect on this effect. Her goals are to take the various skills she will learn from this program: from benchwork to scientific writing, to grow as a better and more refined scientist. She also hopes to research better therapeutic tools to treat glaucoma. Her hobbies include crocheting, painting, crafting, reading, going to the beach and being in the sun, and music.

July 13th

Jeanette Lee, OD

Dr. Jeanette Lee graduated from UC Berkeley, Class of 1994. This was the first optometry class that broke the barrier of over 50% more females than males entering optometry school at UC Berkeley. In her 4 th year, she had an externship at Atlanta Eye Surgery Group where she gained extensive experience with corneal diseases, corneal transplants and refractive surgeries. Dr. Lee received her optometry license in Georgia first after graduation so she could continue to practice therapeutics in Atlanta since California did not pass a therapeutic bill until 1996. Dr. Lee worked with Dr. Daniel Gottlieb at Gottlieb Vision Group, a vision rehabilitation and vision therapy practice in Stone Mountain, Georgia. There, she served as an adjunct professor to three schools of optometry and developed a glaucoma and dry eye clinic within that practice. Dr. Lee returned to California to get married and worked for Turner Eye Institute in 1997. She was an optometrist performing primary care, glaucoma and cataract consultations. Later, her role transitioned to performing consultations for LASIK and refractive surgery.

In 2000, Dr. Lee established a practice in the heart of Silicon Valley, 20/20 Optometry of Silicon Valley in San Jose with her classmate. She has been now a solo practitioner for over 20 years. As a dry eye sufferer, this pain point became a passion and she has been successfully treating dry eyes her entire career. Dr. Lee launched the 20/20 Dry Eye Spa clinic within her practice over 5 years ago; she offers solutions to the root cause of the problem and not just the symptoms. The 360-approach in eye care where diet, exercise, hydration, lifestyle along with a holistic approach is vital to leading a healthy lifestyle. Dr. Lee lives, breathes and teaches this approach to her patients. Anyone that gets an eye exam will see over 100 medals hanging from runs that she has finished, from 5K’s to full marathons. She has competed as a triathlete, a modern pentathlete, a Spartan Trifecta race finisher, a Tough Mudder, and an Alcatraz swimmer too.

Active in the community, Dr. Lee launched Sight 4 Kids, an annual outreach effort to ensure children from disadvantaged backgrounds across the Bay Area receive high-quality eye care and glasses. Outside of work, she loves playing volleyball, tennis, working out, running, swimming and trying out new activities. Dr. Lee’s favorite pastime is dining out and trying new cuisines. In 2022, Dr. Jeanette Lee was recognized as one of the most influential Women Entrepreneur in Healthcare for Healthcare Insights Magazine. Dr. Lee believes the honor represented a positive shift for women entrepreneurs and she hopes to inspire the next generation of female OD’s. Go Bears!

July 14th

Jorge Otero-Millan, PhD

Jorge Otero-Millan is Assistant Professor of Optometry and Vision Science at UC Berkeley. He is also affiliated with the Department of Neurology at Johns Hopkins University. He aims to understand how and why we move our eyes and how eye movements affect visual perception. He focuses on the small eye movements we make when we try to keep them still or when we tilt our head. Because of these movements, images on the retina continuously move, rotate, and jump.

Dr. Otero-Millan studies how the brain maintains a stable perception despite this motion. He is also interested in how eye movements can be used to diagnose patients with various disorders. He has developed new methods to better measure and analyze eye movements. He received his BSc in Telecommunication Engineering from University of Vigo in Spain in 2006 and his PhD in Neuroscience from University of Vigo in collaboration with the Barrow Neurological Institute in 2013. Following a postdoc at Hopkins, he joined the UCB School of Optometry in 2020.

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