Celebration Profiles – May 8-12
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.
Christine F. Wildsoet, OD, PhD, FAAO, FARVODr. Wildsoet is a Professor of Optometry and Vision Science at the Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry & Vision Science. Her research interests are mainly centered around refractive development and myopia (short-sightedness), although her interests extend beyond this to include intraocular pressure regulation and glaucoma therapy, and ocular public health issues.
Dr. Wildsoet says that, “I have on-going collaborations, both within and outside the USA, both in myopia research and outside it. The etiology of human myopia is poorly understood; while genetic factors once were considered the main determinant, the current epidemic of myopia in some populations (near 90% in some Asian university student populations!), suggests that the picture is far more complex. Visual experience appears to be an important factor, with near work being apparently provocative although not everyone appears equally susceptible. There are currently as many unanswered questions and answered ones in terms of what aspects of the visual experience are important, the nature of myopia growth signals, and how eyes enlarge. As an ocular condition, myopia is very common and has significant ramifications in terms of health costs, be it in relation to its management with spectacles, contact lens or refractive surgical correction, or the treatment of associated complications, high myopia being a leading cause of blindness. My recent work has been mainly animal-based, using the chick as an animal model for myopia although there are many questions ripe for answering in human myopia research as well. This field of research is both exciting and fast moving.”
Kenneth B. Stoddard, OD, PhDKenneth Stoddard completed his BS Physics-Optometry at Berkeley in 1936. He then joined the faculty at Berkeley Optometry, serving as Assistant Professor (1938 – 1943), Associate Professor (1943–48), and Professor (1948–61). He spent the summers of 1939 and 1940 at Dartmouth Eye Institute, where he qualified as an Aniseikonic Clinician. Although he was a faculty member, he also served as a physicist on the Manhattan Project during World War II.
Dr. Stoddard became the second dean of Berkeley Optometry in 1946. It was Stoddard (after consultations with the first dean, Ralph Minor, in the early 1940s) who became an enthusiastic advocate for the expansion of research within the school and was largely responsible for establishing the Graduate Group Program in Physiological Optics in 1946 (the forerunner of today’s Vision Science Graduate Program).
Although Stoddard was instrumental in setting up the graduate program, he always viewed academic/research pursuits and clinical optometry as equal endeavors at Berkeley Optometry. He required every member of his faculty to spend time teaching in the clinic, and he worked tirelessly to make the clinical program an outstanding component within the school.
Ciel MahoneyCiel has been with Berkeley Optometry since 2014, having previously served as the Senior Director of Philanthropy, and as Interim Assistant Dean. Leading up to her promotion to Assistant Dean of Development and Alumni Relations, Mahoney significantly accelerated Optometry’s fundraising momentum by leading one the most successful Big Give efforts in the school’s history. She also led the way in identifying and engaging Dr. Herbert Wertheim, for whom the Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry & Vision Science has since been named.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to serve our alumni and community and inspire philanthropic investments in support of research and scholarship, and the clinical teaching and learning that enables optometry to have such an impact on Cal and in the world. We’re also looking forward to celebrating the school’s centennial in 2023!”
Mahoney holds a B.A. in Economics and Political Science from the University of the Philippines, and was a fellow at the Goldman School of Public Policy through her work with the Office of the President of the Philippines. She and her husband, Phil — who has worked at the Haas School of Business since 1996 — have two grown daughters, and Mahoney is a passionate advocate for girls’ participation in sports.
In her current role, Ciel leads the school’s Development and Alumni Relations team, which is responsible for fundraising, alumni engagement, and for working with loyal alumni and friends to ensure the success of the school’s $100 million campaign: “Our Vision. Our Future.”
Daniel Harvitt, OD, PhDDaniel Harvitt graduated from UC Berkeley with both a PhD in Physiological Optics (1997) and and an OD degree (2000). He is a New Jersey native, and received his undergraduate degree in Optics Engineering from the University of Rochester in New York.
Dr. Harvitt’s graduate research was in the laboratory of Joe Bonanno (UCB OD class of 1981, PhD class of 1987). Together they developed a non-invasive measurement of tear oxygen levels with contact lens wear in order to better understand corneal oxygen metabolism with daily and overnight contact lens wear.
After Dr. Harvitt completed his OD degree, he joined the Berkeley faculty and also worked in private practice and public health settings, as well as in the contact lens industry. At Berkeley, Dr. Harvitt has taught first year optics, ophthalmic optics, low vision optics, primary care clinic, and first year pre-clinic laboratory.
Dr. Harvitt remains convinced that his optometry class of 2000 was the best class ever, or at least it had the most fun. Although he has recently moved to Idaho, he’s excited about the future of Berkeley Optometry and the clinical care and research that we continue to produce.