Research | Southern College of Optometry
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SCO Summer Research Fellowship

In addition to our faculty members participating in academic and clinical research studies, SCO's summer research fellowship program was designed to offer talented students a chance 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
  • 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
  • Present their research results at a national optometric meeting

The Fellowship offers a $2,500 stipend plus an additional $500 reimbursement for conference travel to present results in either in a Poster or Paper format.


Research Topics Include

  • Pediatrics and Vision Therapy
  • Contact Lenses
  • Visual Perception
  • Anterior Segment
  • Dry Eye
  • Regulation of choroidal blood flow in animal models
  • Ocular Pharmacology
  • Other topics as developed with a faculty mentor

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


Recent Fellowship Presentations

2016 AOA (American Optometric Association)

Laura Brown ’18, Drs. Mike Christensen and Chris Borgman
A Comparison of Central Corneal Thickness Amongst Four Different Technology Devises

Laurel Roberts ’18, Drs. Paul Harris and Rachel Grant
A Comparison of Backlit ETDRS VA Chart to M&S Technologies Automated ETDRS VA Chart

2016 ARVO (Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology)

Sneha Bagavandoss ’18, Drs. Jeung Kim and Patricia Cisarik
Effect of Energy Drinks on Critical Flicker Frequency

Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald and Ryan Piche ’18
Age-related choroidal and retinal changes in Sprague-Dawley and Fischer 344 Rats


2016 AAO (American Academy of Optometry)

Drs. William Edmondson, Jennifer Snyder, Laura Brown ’18 and Dr. Earlena McKee
Comfort Comparison of Once-A-Day Anti-Allergy Ophthalmic Medications

Dr. Daniel Fuller, Jennifer Eng ’17, Drs. Brayden Lundquist and Christina Newman
Performance Comparison of Two Novel Daily Toric Contact Lenses



The summer after my first year of optometry school, I had the opportunity to participate in the Summer Research Fellowship at SCO. I worked with Drs. Mike Christensen and Christopher Borgman investigating the inter-instrument variability between four instruments that measure central corneal thickness. From the program, I gained valuable clinical experience using advanced technology and learned more about optometric research. The experience also allowed me to interact with and learn from some of the top optometric physicians in their fields. I would highly recommend this program to any student interested in expanding his or her knowledge of optometry through research. 

— Laura Brown ‘18  

During the summer break between my first and second year at the Southern College of Optometry, I had the privilege of being awarded a position in the Summer Research Fellowship program working with Dr. Paul Harris. I investigated the standardization of testing protocols for the application of color lenses in relief of various conditions including mTBI, migraine and seizure disorders using the Intuitive Colorimeter. This unique experience provided me with opportunities not afforded to most students. I was able to work with and learn from experts in the field and gained valuable experience using new technologies. The Summer Research Fellowship has helped me to stand out among my peers and grow as a future optometric physician, and I would recommend it to every first-year student that wants to be at the forefront of optometric practice.clinicians in the optometric community.

— Nicholas Sachse ‘18

View the 2017 Summer Research Fellowship Brochure (PDF)