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Summer Research Fellowship

SCO Summer Research Fellowship

The summer research fellowship program was designed to offer talented students who have completed their first year an opportunity to participate in faculty-directed research. Each selected student will be paired with a clinical research optometrist who will guide the fellow’s research experience.

The program provides opportunities for:

  • Hands-on experience with ophthalmic research techniques and equipment
  • Interaction with accomplished mentors
  • Guidance for hypothesis development, research methodology and presentation of research results

Students are expected to:

  • Commit at least 20 hours per week for 10 weeks during the Summer semester
  • Attend the weekly noon lecture series provided by selected faculty
  • Present their research results at a national optometric meeting in poster or paper format

The Fellowship offers a $2,500 stipend plus an additional $500 reimbursement for conference travel to present results.

Summer Research Fellowship Program at Southern College of Optometry

Research Topics Include

  • Anterior Segment

  • Contact Lenses

  • Dry Eye

  • Ocular Pharmacology

  • Pediatrics and Vision Therapy

  • Regulation of choroidal blood flow in animal models

  • Visual Perception

  • Other topics as developed with a faculty mentor

All applications will be reviewed by the Research Committee. A minimum of six (6) finalists will be chosen for the program. Those students will be paired with faculty members in an area of interest.

Fellowship Presentations


Heart of America (Kansas City, MO) 2023

  • Squier K, Kao J (‘23) Ancillary Health Professionals’ Understanding of Services for the Visually Impaired.

  • American Academy of Optometry (San Diego, 2022)

  • Koonce D (‘23), Borgman C, Christensen M.  Comparing Central Corneal Thickness Measurements taken with the RTVue OCT and Cirrus 

  • Niederbrach L (’24), Haworth K. Contact Lens Associated Dry Eye and Therapeutic Dehydrated Amniotic Membranes

  • Vaughn A (’22), Kelley L, Wang Y. Visual Recovery after Artificial Tear Instillation in Soft Contact Lens Wearers 

  • Kampworth Jon-Erik (‘23) Cisarik P.  Effect of Pupil Size and Stimulus Size on Cone Contrast Sensitivity

  • Groves Z (‘24). Cisarik P.:  Full Spectrum Light Exposure: Effect on Critical Flicker Fusion Frequency

  • Kerr A (’22), Cisarik P:  Impact of the COVID-19 Lockdown on Vision:  A Retrospective Study in School-Aged Children

  • Cole AD 0’22),  Hogan C.  Neurotrophic Keratitis with Associated Filamentary Keratitis further exacerbated by corneal injury from Nail Glue:  A Potentially Vision-Threatening Outcome.


Heart of America Eye Care Congress (HOAECC) 2022

  • Sparrow S, Dix J (‘22).  Bilateral Band keratopathy in an Asymptomatic Patient.

  • Sparrow S, Rahhal J. (‘23) Filamentary Keratitis: A Review


American Academy of Optometry (Boston 2021) 

  • Heskett L (’23), Cisarik PM:  The effect of reverse contrast polarity versus normal contrast polarity on accommodative microfluctuations.

  • Wirt A (’22), Cisarik PM, Harris PA.  Relationship between reading comprehension score and reading eye movement parameters as measured by the Readalyzer in graduate level students

  • Douglass A (’22), Klick A (’22), Hobson A (’22), Cisarik PM.  Effect of ice water stimulation on pharmacologically-induced Horner’s anisocoria.

  • Fry M (‘23), Wang Y, Kelley L.  Comparison of S5 MiniTM Scleral Lens Insertion Device to Traditional DMV®Vented Scleral Cup TM.  

  • Squier K, Williams A (‘21), Drug C (‘21).  Does Grit Score Correlate to Persistence of Low Vision Device Use? A Pilot Study.  The poster won an award from Ocutec for young researchers.

  • Melissa Zarn, Janette Pepper, Lauren Watson (‘21): Using Interprofessional Education to Introduce Inclusivity Training in Pre-Clinical Students.

  • Morgan Ollinger, Taylor Edwards (22’), William Feriend (22’) bilateral optic nerve edema as a presenting sign of retinitis pigmentosa in twin pediatric patients 

  • Chao HA (’23) and Haworth KM. Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Omega-3 consumption in contact lens associated dry eye disease. American Academy of Optometry annual meeting, Boston, MA. November 2021. Paper.


2019 February  SECO

Alexis Williams-Smith (’21), Whitney Hauser and Mike Christensen had a Poster at SECO entitled: The Impact of Ocular Surface Disease Signs and Symptoms on Optical Remakes.


2019 April COVD

Patricia Cisarik, Kennedy Simmons (’19) and Jennifer Rider (’19) had a poster at the recent COVD meeting entitled: Effect of Monocular Blur on Basketball Free Throw Performance.


2019 May

Paul Harris, Torrie Garner (’20), Mehrdad Sangi, Peng Gao, Jason Turuwhenua and Ben Thompson presented a Poster at ARVO entitled: Visual Acuity Assessment in Adults using Optokinetic Nystagmus.

Patricia Cisarik and Johnathan Hoopes (’21) presented a poster at the Vision Sciences Society entitled: Effect of Magenta Filter on Cone Contrast Sensitivity.


2019 June

Alexis Williams (’21), Whitney Hauser and Mike Christensen had a Poster at the AOA entitled: The Impact of Ocular Surface Disease Signs and Symptoms on Optical Remakes


2019 Sept

Alan Kabat, Chris Lievens, Christina Newman and Jacob Weber (’20) published in Clinical Ophthalmology 2019:13. 1807-1813. entitled: Accuracy, speed and repeatability of the voice assisted subjective refractor (VASR).  


2019 October American Academy of Optometry Annual Meeting, Orlando, FL

Makayla Porter (’21) and Kristina Haworth. The effect of UV-absorbing contact lenses on conjunctival ultraviolet autofluorescence after short-term simulated daylight exposure.

Boehme J (’20), Brown L (’18), Cisarik PM.  Effect of Sleep Deprivation on Accommodation. 

Stakeley C (’21), Ramos G (’21), Cisarik PM. (2019).  CFF and History of Concussion:  Effect of Stimulus Sweep Direction.   

Ramos G (’21), Cisarik PM.  Comparison of Visual Light Sensitivity Survey and Macular Pigment Optical Density in Young, Healthy Adults. 

Karen Squier and Joseph LeMay (’21) presented a poster entitled: Does Visual function affect Scores of FES-1 Scales? A pilot Study

Julie Shalhoub, Shaleen Ragha, Lauren Watson (21’) and Melissa Zarn poster title was: Student Interprofessional Networking (SIP’n): Foundations of Student-Driven Interprofessional Education.

Morgan Ollinger and Natalie Nibert (’21) presented a poster: A comparison on Near Visual Acuity Optotype Validity within a Pediatric Population.


2020 July

Borgman, CJ, Follansbee, CJ (’20). Degree of excyclotorsion in an acquired trochlear nerve palsy. Clin Exp Optom. July 2020;103:550-551.


Feb 2021

Sparrow B. Dix J (22) Bilateral Band Keratopathy in an asymptomatic patient. Heart of America Conference in Kansas City, KS

Jones, J.  and Grycko A (22) Morning Glory Syndrome vs Optic Nerve Head Coloboma. Heart of America Conference in Kansas, City, KS

Carter E (22) and Jones, J. Neovascularization of the Disc vs Collateral Vessel Growth. Heart of America Conference in Kansas City, KS


2018 ARVO (Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology)

Drs. Chris Lievens, Christina Newman, Al Kabat and Jake Weber ’20
Comparison of the Vmax Voice Active™ Subjective Refractor (VASR) and Traditional Refraction in a Healthy Population

Drs. Christina Newman, Chris Lievens, Al Kabat and Jake Weber ’20
Repeatability of the Vmax Voice Activ™ Subjective Refractor (VASR) and Traditional Refractive Methods in a Healthy Population

Cori Jones ’20 and Dr. Kristina Haworth
Serotonin and Stress in Contact Lens-related Dry Eye



2018 AOA (American Optometric Association)

Dr. Patricia Cisarik and Lindsey Brise ’19
Evaluation of Anisocoria in Subjects with Dark Irides using a Custom-built Infrared Screening Device


2018 AAO (American Academy of Optometry)

Andrea Wester ’20, Drs. Michael Christensen and Christopher Borgman
Tonometry Measurements Over Soft Contact Lenses in Healthy Subjects

Kamil Hill ’19, Drs. Patricia Cisarik and Paul Harris
Exploring the Effect of a Notch Filter on Color Contrast Sensitivity in Color Normal and Color Deficient Young Healthy Adults – A pilot study

Dr. Kristina Haworth and Christianne Belair ’19
Comparison of Nasal and Temporal Conjunctival Ultraviolet Autofluorescence in Contact Lens Wearers

Drs. Morgan Ollinger, Jessica Lam, Sara Schwartz and Cori Jones ’20
Peripheral Visual Fields in Orthokeratology Patients