Here’s what some of our recent participants had to say about the NEI Summer Research program.

“I have been learning a lot about research this summer. I’ve learned to extract important information from literature and how we can design a research strategy. I also think that exploring different experimental parameters such as field size and imaging wavelength, as well as method used for measuring cone density is a great learning experience My project this summer is challenging because I wasn’t a physics or engineering major, but everyone has been generously helping me understand the system and the concepts, making my overall experience very fun and rewarding.”
“The NEI Summer Research program (T-35) was my first experience with working on an independent project — exploring changes in corneal innervation in the presence and absence of IL1-B, a major mediator of ocular surface disease in dry eye. By the end of my experience, I had gained experience in analyzing various articles, setting up and optimizing a protocol, and extracting useful data to build a promising story. Looking back, I would highly highly recommend applying for this program. As a first year in Optometry school, it is easy to get enveloped in coursework and lose sight of real time medical advancements as they come. Research allows you to stay grounded and up to date with how treatments and pathophysiology are changing for the topics that we learn about. T-35 allows you to pave your own way into the field of research while teaching you how to do so-providing the right tools and mentorship. As a result of my T-35 experience, I am now better able to understand those patients that present with symptoms related to the research topics I have explored.”
“The [best part] was being surrounded by a group of forward-thinking, intelligent, and down-to-earth researchers who were never too busy to answer my questions and guide me in the right directions as I was doing my own project.”
“What I was working on was very cool… Learning about diabetes and electrophysiology was a great experience. Also I’ve never been this involved in research before. I’ve learned so much about what goes into being a research scientist.”
“Exploring the unknown. It was a great intellectual vacation from learning things in the classroom that has been known for decades.”
“This unique experience opened my eyes to vision research. My appointment put me in the forefront of retinal imaging and 3D research. I had the unique opportunity to work with the AOSLO (Adaptive Optic Scanning Laser Ophthalmoscope) in Dr. Austin Roorda’s lab to image cones within 1 degrees eccentricity: a technique that is critical in retinal disease detection in the future. At the same time, I was introduced to stereo vision research, which is fast becoming the backbone of 3D technology in cinema and other entertainment venue through my mentorship with Dr. Martin Banks. My experience had both been intellectually stimulating and enjoyable.”
“I’ve learned so much from [my mentor]; not only about what it takes to be a good researcher but also what it takes to be a good clinician. I’ve had research experience before but only as a lab assistant contributing to a large project. This summer I had my own project to work on and I felt that I learned so much more about what research was all about.”
“It was a great way to practice patient interaction. I feel more confident in being able to make my patients feel comfortable and also build rapport. It was great early exposure to what lies ahead in the clinic.”
“I never stopped having fun. The challenges of running my own project with my own experiments were awesome, conversing with students from other optometry programs was interesting, and spending the weekends exploring San Francisco and Northern California.”