Optometry PhD student performs scholarship hat trick

Vivek

Vivek Labhishetty, a PhD student, is on a mission to explore unanswered questions in the field of Vision Science. Inspired by his father, an optometrist himself, Vivek set out to become the best clinical optometrist he can be. His passion is reflected in his pursuits, including his latest research on children with myopia, commonly known as nearsightedness.

Since beginning work at the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, Vivek has distinguished himself from his peers. In 2015, he won the Day Tech Award for the best graduate student presentation at UWaterloo’s Vision Science research conference. During spring convocation that year, the Dean of Science then presented him with the Award for Best Master’s Thesis for his research on redesigning an instrument known as a photorefractor. 

It was quite challenging. The main goal was to build a high speed instrument that can accurately measure the focus response of the eye in children with a limited attention span.

On April 26, 2016, Vivek completed an optometry hat trick, by winning the Dr. Emerson Woodruff Scholarship in Paediatrics for the third time in a row. The graduate scholarship recognizes individuals whose research sheds light on the developing visual system in infants and children. This is an area that is of great interest to Vivek, who contributes his expertise and passion to a local start-up when he isn’t busy in the university labs.

I’m interested in teaching and educating people about the importance of eye care. I work as a part-time research consultant at EyeCheck, a startup company that aims to eliminate correctable blindness. They are building miniaturized optical technology easily accessible to everyone. It has been a great learning process so far; I am able to test myself in other areas of optometry rather than focusing merely on my research.

Before making his way to UWaterloo, Vivek completed his undergraduate degree in India. At the L V Prasad Eye Institute, he secured a perfect GPA – a feat of excellence that had never been achieved in the history of the institution.

For students thinking about further education, the entrepreneurial student leaves a few words of wisdom:

If you are really passionate about something, just go for it. Don’t do something just because you have to.

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