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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…

June 26th

Andrea Antonelli, OD

Dr. Andrea Antonelli holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Georgia where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with Honors. She received her Doctorate in Optometry from the University of California, Berkeley where she was awarded the Gold Retinoscope for academic and clinical achievement. Dr. Antonelli completed her residency in Primary Care with an emphasis in pediatrics at SUNY College of Optometry. She has been a faculty member at SUNY since finishing her residency in 2011.

She is an Assistant Clinical Professor and teaches at Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center in the pediatric eye clinic. She also works in private practice in Wyckoff, New Jersey where she specializes in ocular disease, specialty contact lenses and works closely with ophthalmologists on surgical cases. She has been a member of the American Academy of Optometry, American Optometric Association and The New Jersey Society of Optometric Physicians.

Dr. Antonelli was born in Bogota, Colombia and is a native Spanish speaker. In her free time she enjoys cooking, traveling, running, gardening, and spending time with her friends and family.

June 27th

Karen Springer Kronick, OD

Dr. Karen Springer Kronick grew up learning about the profession of Optometry, and about the School of Optometry at Cal, from her father, Dr. Harry Springer (class of 1942) and his close friends, Drs. Ed Mehr, Ben Nerenberg, and Irving Weissman. They were all classmates at the UC Berkeley School of Optometry, and were like uncles to her. They all loved their profession, and were in the vanguard in those early days. All four of them became clinical professors at the Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry & Vision Science, and active leaders in the California Optometric Association (COA), American Optometric Association (AOA) and American Academy of Optometry (AAO).

Dr. Kronick worked in her father’s office during the summers when she was in high school but didn’t initially think about optometry as a profession for herself. She came to Cal as a freshman in 1967 and became a history major, graduating with her BA in 1971. During that last year of college, she started thinking about career options and the positive role models that her father modeled for her. She had only taken a few science classes as an undergraduate, but she realized that becoming an optometrist was still a realistic goal. She spent the next 18 months completing the pre-med/optometry curriculum and applied to UCBSO. She was accepted and started classes in September 1972, as one of the 12 women students in her first-year class of 58 students.

The next 4 years were packed with intense hard work, with a wonderful group of fellow students and impressive, dedicated faculty. After graduation, she went on to be the first optometrist working in the Eye Clinic at the San Jose Hospital Medical Center, and then left to join her father in practice in Sunnyvale. They brought Mark Ichikawa, another Berkeley Optometry grad, into the practice a few years later as the practice grew. She also served for 10 years as an Associate Clinical Professor in both the Contact Lens and the Binocular Vision Clinics at Cal.

Dr. Kronick loved her work, and her patients, but made the decision to retire in 2005 to allow her to travel. Since then, she has kept busy with several community projects and boards and have continued her deep ties to Berkeley Optometry over all these years.

“I am so very proud of the tremendous growth and world-wide recognition of the school – my father and his friends would also be so proud!” – Dr. Karen Kronick.

June 28th

Frances Tsai, OD

Dr. Frances Tsai is a Class of 2023 graduate from the Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry & Vision Science. Dr. Tsai is currently an ocular disease and refractive surgery resident at Omni Eye Services in New Jersey and New York. She received her Doctor of Optometry degree from the Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry & Vision Science in 2023 as a member of the centennial graduating class, and is the first in her family to receive a doctorate in a healthcare profession. Dr. Tsai currently serves as a Student Liaison & Representative on the California Optometric Association Social Media Committee and runs an active optometry Instagram, where she documents her optometry journey and provides advice and student life insight for prospective and current optometry students.

During optometry school, Dr. Tsai fostered her interest in ocular disease through various clinic rotations at San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Eastmont Wellness Center with Alameda Health System, Travis Air Force Base, John Muir Health/UCSF Berkeley Outpatient Center, Meredith Morgan Eye Center, and University Health Services Tang Center. She previously served as Academic Liaison for her class, as a Teaching Assistant for the core clinical skills courses, and as a Gold Key Optometric Honor Society member. She also served as an Optometry Student Representative on the Faculty Search Committee; a Student Ambassador of the Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry & Vision Science; a Board Member of EyeChat; and an NEI research fellow, collaborating with Associate Dean McNamara and Dean Flanagan to design a clinical study analyzing the optometrist’s role in early chronic disease detection in an aged population.

Prior to optometry school, Dr. Tsai was a Receptionist and later, an Insurance Authorizations Specialist at the University of California San Francisco Ophthalmology and Optometry Clinic for over two years. She graduated cum laude from California State University Los Angeles and earned a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry with College and Departmental Honors and a Minor in Biology after joining the university at the age of 14 through Cal State LA’s Early Entrance Program.

Dr. Tsai is the daughter of immigrant parents from Taiwan and grew up in the suburbs of Seattle, Washington. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, socializing her previously feral cat Felix, and attending K-pop concerts.

June 29th

John (JT) Pirog, BS

JT is a vision science student at the Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry & Vision Science. He was born in New Hartford, NY and was raised in San Antonio, TX. He completed his BS in Optics from the University of Rochester where he worked with Geunyoung Yoon studying long term neural adaptation to highly aberrated vision in Keratoconus. Thereafter, he worked a few months at Clerio VIsion Inc., a startup developing a non-invasive refractive surgery with femtosecond laser technology. After his brief stint in industry, he returned to Geunyoung Yoon’s lab where he began development of a in-vivo Brillouin microscope for a previously developed corneal biomechanical model.

Past research experiences at The L V Prasad Eye Institute and Geunyoung Yoon’s physiological optics lab have introduced and hooked him on the unique interdisciplinary approach in vision science. After he became set on vision science there was only one place he could end up – Berkeley! His research is in optical methods for visual psychophysics. He hopes to benefit at least one person’s vision with his research. He also hopes he can make optics more interesting by teaching it in an approachable way. He enjoys biking, reading, hiking, camping, basketball, cooking, woodworking, movies, traveling, and golf. He plays guitar, bass and piano and is learning how to play drums.

June 30th

Gerald Westheimer, OD, PhD, FAAO

Gerald Westheimer was born 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 joined the faculty at Berkeley Optometry in 1960 as a full-time visiting associate professor and was given tenure at Berkeley in 1961 and achieved the rank of full professor in 1963. Dr. Westheimer remains to this day the only optometrist to have received the honor of being elected to the Royal Society.

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. 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).

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