Eye on Education

ASCO’s 2019 Special Recognition Awardees Announced

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Invited guests gathered for the ASCO Annual Leadership Luncheon to meet up with new and old friends alike and to honor and celebrate this year’s Special Recognition Award recipients.

In attendance were three award recipients:                                              

Dr. Arol Augsburger, president emeritus of Illinois College of Optometry (ICO), was given this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his exceptional leadership in ASCO and optometric education, his outstanding contributions to the optometric community and his exemplary commitment and dedication to the association.

“I am honored and proud to be named the ASCO 2019 Lifetime Achievement Awardee,” says Dr. Augsburger. “Indeed, it is recognition by colleagues in higher education who have revolutionized the profession of optometry during the last 50 years which is most gratifying. I have been fortunate to be an able part of that evolution of our profession during my career. Thank you.”

Sponsored by Oculus, the ASCO Rising Star Award is given to an outstanding faculty member or administrator with less than seven years of service. This year’s Rising Star awardee is Diane Russo, OD, MPH.

Dr. Diane Russo is an associate professor in the Department of Primary Care at New England College of Optometry, where she is Instructor of record for the public health course sequence. She is also an attending optometrist at the Codman Square Health Center in Boston, where she precepts second-, third- and fourth-year students.

“I am incredibly honored to be nominated and chosen for this award,” says Dr. Russo. “It has been an amazing privilege to be able to care for patients while also contributing to the profession by educating future doctors of optometry.”

The ASCO Ophthalmic Industry Leadership Award recognizes an individual from a current or past Corporate Contributor partner company who demonstrates exemplary support of ASCO and its member institutions. The individual serves as an example for his/her colleagues in industry and has made exceptional and meaningful contributions to the advancement of ASCO and optometric education.

ASCO’s 2019 Industry Leadership Awardee is Richard E. Weisbarth, vice president of professional affairs at U.S. Vision Care of Alcon. Dr. Weisbarth received his OD degree from The Ohio State University College of Optometry. He also attended the Contact Lens Practice Residency Program at the University of Alabama in Birmingham School of Optometry.

“Supporting optometric education today is the best investment we can make for the future. By working together, ASCO, academia and industry can create a better tomorrow in vision care,” says Dr. Weisbarth.

Not in attendance at the Annual Leadership Luncheon but deserving recognition are:

  • Drs. Mark Dunne and Bhavna Pancholi, winners of the Dr. Lester Janoff Award for Writing Excellence Award
  • Negar Sohbati, a junior from the Illinois College of Optometry, for winning the Student Award in Clinical Ethics

The Dr. Lester Janoff Award for Writing Excellence recognizes the outstanding writing of a research article published in the ASCO journal Optometric Education. The award is named in honor of Dr. Lester E. Janoff, editor of the journal from 2002 to 2005 and long-time member of the editorial review board, who was known as an exceptional optometric educator, administrator, contact lens clinician and researcher. Dr. Janoff was also a beloved mentor of young writers.

Drs. Mark Dunne and Bhavna Pancholi of Aston University won for their article Virtual Patient Instruction and Self-Assessment Accuracy in Optometry Students. Their article was published in the Winter-Spring 2018 (Volume 43 Number 2) of Optometric Education.

The Student Award in Clinical Ethics was given to Negar Sohbati. This annual award, sponsored by Alcon, is available to optometry students during any point in their professional program at an ASCO-affiliated school or college of optometry in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada.

The application consists of an essay of up to 1,500 words describing any one of the following scenarios:

  • A patient-based case-study that the student encountered as part of their clinical learning experience
  • A research-based case scenario that the student has encountered during their clinical or didactic learning experience
  • A professional ethics-based scenario that the student has encountered during their clinical or didactic learning

Negar is a student at ICO and is expected to graduate with her doctor of optometry degree next year. Her winning essay, Optometrist as Mandatory Reporter: What is Our Obligation to Keep the Roads Safe for All? will be considered for future publication in Optometric Education.


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