Sharing vision research with new audiences

Last year, ARVO launched its one-year Science Communication Training Fellowship (SciCommTF) program to train Members-in-Training from the U.S and outside the U.S. to become more effective communicators of vision research to various audiences. As one of their requirements, each fellow is responsible for developing and implementing an advocacy or outreach activity. Are you thinking about how you can share your research with patients, investors or others? Take tips from some of the 2017-2018 SciComm fellows who made an impact in a number of innovative ways.


Krista Kelly, PhD
Krista Kelly, PhDPostdoctoral Fellow
Retina Foundation of the Southwest, USA

Kelly’s research focuses on assessing daily activities, such as reading and fine motor skills in pre-school and school-age children, with amblyopia. For her outreach event, she spoke with educators of young children at the Highland Park Methodist Church Day School to make them aware of what amblyopia is, how it can be detected and treated, and how it affects a child’s daily life. She described hidden signs of vision problems that teachers can watch out for, including squinting, rubbing the eyes, eye turn and tilting the head. “If even one child is detected and treated because of this event, it will have been worth it!" says Kelly.


Daisy Shu
Daisy ShuGraduate Student
University of Sydney, Australia
As a contributor to The Peer Review, podcast series, Shu chose to examine the process of crowdfunding for one of her episodes. After talking with several research groups that successfully raised money from members of the public on websites like, Daisy launched her own crowdfunding campaign to fund her research on cataract formation. She raised over $2,000! "I received many emails from academics who were intrigued by the concept of crowdfunding and wanted to crowdfund their own research,” says Shu. “I also received many comments from backers who showed genuine interest in my research, and they shared their stories about close family members who had cataract."

Himal Kandel, MSc PHEC, B. Optom

Himal KandelGraduate Student
Flinders University, Australia
On World Sight Day (Oct. 11), Kandel setup a booth on Flinders campus to share his PhD research. Using hand-drawn cartoons, flyers, posters and papers, he made his work on refractive error readily accessible to the general public. Many of the people who engaged him at the booth were happy to learn more about their own refractive-error issues. And while he was the only optometry student at Flinders to share his research with the public in 2017, Kandel’s example has inspired the Flinders Optometry Program to organize multiple outreach booths in 2018.


João Barbosa-Breda, MD
Joao Barbosa-Breda, MDMedical Resident
Centro Hospitalar São João, Portugal
For his outreach project, Barbosa-Breda led a small team in discussing vision loss in front of an attentive audience at an assisted-living home for senior citizens near Lisbon, Portugal. The panel of medical professionals, two ophthalmologists and a nurse, reviewed the signs and symptoms behind the most common age-related eye diseases. The speakers discussed what can be done to prevent and/or treat the diseases and answered many questions in the process.


Lauren Cornell
Lauren CornellGraduate Student
United States Army Institute of Surgical Research
Working in a military hospital, Cornell sees an urgent need for her research to advance to the clinic. Yet, there are few systems set up to ensure success outside of the laboratory. To help speed the bench-to-bedside process, Cornell shared a potential product stemming from her research with MBA students at the University of Texas Stan Antonio. Following the presentation, she received offers from several MBA students to create a business plan and write a provisional patent for her product.