From travel grantee to leadership development
Checking in with Allen Cheong, PhD
Allen M. Y. Cheong, PhD, associate professor in the School of Optometry at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, remembers attending her first ARVO Annual Meeting in 2004. She had just started her postdoc in the U.S. at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University. “My first impression was that the meeting was huge,” she recalls. She remembers being particularly impressed with the breadth of researchers that were there from across different disciplines. Cheong, whose research interests include the psychophysical, behavioral and clinical aspects of aging and low vision, was studying mobility performance in low vision patients at the time.
One year later, she had moved on to a second postdoctoral position as a research associate at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Psychology. She received a travel grant through the ARVO Foundation to attend the ARVO Annual Meeting in 2006 based on her abstract, “Shrinkage of Visual Span Profile for People with AMD in Reading.”
As a junior researcher, receiving a travel grant served as validation of her work. “It not only supported my travel expense, but it also recognized my research contribution in my field, although I was still a junior researcher at that time,” she recalls. Attending the meeting was also an important opportunity to network, including connecting with senior investigators in her research field.
“It not only supported my travel expense, but it also recognized my research contribution in my field, although I was still a junior researcher at that time. Attending the meeting was also an important opportunity to network, including connecting with senior investigators in my research field."
Ten years after receiving her first travel grant, Cheong participated in another ARVO Foundation-supported initiative: the Leadership Development Program for Women in ARVO for early- to mid-career female vision scientists. She was in the first cohort of mentees to work one-on-one with a mentor in a year-long, intensive program aimed at developing leadership skills and facilitating leadership opportunities and networking within ARVO. Looking ahead, she’s planning to get more involved with ARVO through committee service. And of course, she “always looks forward to the ARVO Meeting each year as a place to meet old friends and make new ones.”