Andrew M M. Archila,O.D., MBA, FAAOClinical Professor
Associate Dean for Clinical Operations
Dr. Andrew M. Archila grew up in the Chicagoland area before moving to South Texas. There he obtained his Bachelor of Science and Doctorate in Optometry from the University of Houston College of Optometry. Dr. Archila went on to enjoy a 22-year Naval career attaining the rank of Captain, where he was able to use his administrative and clinical talents. While in an out service Navy program he was able to earn an MBA in Health Care Administration from the City University of New York while concurrently earned a Fellowship in Clinical Administration and Optometric Management at the State University of New York College of Optometry. Dr. Archila has held several naval leadership roles in clinical practice environments, such as Officer in Charge, Executive Officer, and Commanding Officer, which encompassed all aspects overseeing daily operations, budget, and patient care of these healthcare facilities. He was selected as the Navy’s Junior Optometrist of the Year in 2003 and the Armed Forces Optometric Society’s Navy Optometrist of the Year for 2014. In addition, Dr. Archila has earned several Navy service medals.
Dr. Archila recently joined the University of Houston College of Optometry as Associate Dean for Clinical Operations and as a Clinical Professor.
Area of ResearchClinical Translational Research Ocular Biology
contact lens designs and materials, effects on the ocular surface, ocular histopathology
Jan P. Bergmanson,O.D., Ph.D., FAAOProfessor
Jan PG Bergmanson, OD, PhD, PhD h.c., DSc, is the Brien A. Holden Professor of Optometry at University of Houston College of Optometry, founding Director of the Texas Eye Research and Technology Center, is licensed in Texas as a Therapeutic Optometrist and an Optometric Glaucoma Specialist. He is a Fellow of American Academy of Optometry (AAO), where he is a Diplomate in the Cornea, Contact Lens and Refractive Technologies Section and a Fellow of the Scleral Lens Education Society. He is a Lifetime Honorary Member of the Swedish and Dutch Optometric Associations, was elected 2013 to Life Fellowship of The College of Optometrists, United Kingdom. Awards received include British Contact Lens Association’s Gold Medal (1998), Texas Optometric Association’s Educator of the Year Award (2002), AAO Max Schapero Lecture Award (2006), 2014 American Optometric Association Legend Award, IACLE America’s Contact Lens Educator of the Year Award (2017), 2018 Joseph Dallos Award presented by Contact Lens Manufacturers Association and 2019 Pioneer Excellence Award by International Summit of Specialty Contact Lenses. Scholarship encompasses over 160 clinical and scientific publications, 9 chapters in texts, one book, now in its 29th edition and one patent.
Area of ResearchClinical Translational Research Biomedical Optics
myopia, contact lenses, and aberrations of the eye, clinical research
David A. Berntsen,O.D., Ph.D., FAAOAssociate Professor
Department Chair, Clinical Sciences
Golden-Golden Professor of Optometry
David A. Berntsen, OD PhD is an Associate Professor and the Golden-Golden Professor of Optometry at the University of Houston College of Optometry where he teaches in the graduate and professional programs. He is the Chair of the Department of Clinical Sciences and conducts research on myopia, contact lenses, visual performance, and aberrations of the eye. He completed his Doctor of Optometry degree at the University of Houston and a Cornea and Contact Lens Advanced Practice Fellowship, MS, and PhD at The Ohio State University. He conducted the Study of Theories about Myopia Progression (STAMP), a two-year clinical trial evaluating theories of juvenile-onset myopia progression, and is the Principal Investigator of the University of Houston clinical site for the Bifocal Lenses In Nearsighted Kids (BLINK) Study and the BLINK2 Study, a multicenter study sponsored by the National Eye Institute evaluating contact lenses for myopia control. Dr. Berntsen serves on the American Academy of Optometry’s Scientific Program Committee.
Area of ResearchClinical Translational Research Biomedical Optics Visual Neuroscience
Noninvasive functional and structural evaluation of the visual pathways under normal and pathological conditions
Han Cheng,O.D., Ph.D.Clinical Professor
Dr. Cheng earned both her PhD and OD degrees from the University of Houston, College of Optometry. After graduation, she became an associate in a private practice at Sugarland, Texas. She joined the MacGregor Medical Association in 1999 and practiced optometry there until she became a faculty member at the UH College of Optometry in 2002.
Kim Duong,O.D., M.S., MPHClinical Assistant Professor
Dr. Duong received her Bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia. She then received her Doctor of Optometry and Masters in Vision Science from The State University of New York. She subsequently taught at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and completed her Master's in Public Health with an emphasis on Maternal and Child Health there. Prior to her time at UHCO, she worked at Rady Children’s Hospital. Currently, she is a Clinical Assistant Professor at UHCO and is a clinical attending in the Pediatric and Binocular Vision Service as well as the Contact Lens and Family Practice Service. Here clinical interests include infants and preschool children, children and adults with neurodevelopment disabilities, and pediatric contact lenses. Her research Interests include eye care accessibility and contact lens-related quality of life. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry.
Meron Fitta,O.D.Clinical Asst Prof
Dr. Meron Fitta was born and raised in Silver Spring, MD. She was in the Honors Humanities College at the University of Maryland, College Park, where she obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in General Biology and minor in Global Poverty in 2015. She received the College of Optometrists in Vision Development Award for Excellence in Vision and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University in 2021. While at Pennsylvania College of Optometry, she was the President and Founder of the D.C/Maryland/Virginia (DMV)Optometric Student Association, served as Class Council Vice President, and held leadership roles in the National Optometric Student Association and the College of Optometrist in Vision Development. After graduation, she pursued a residency in Ocular Disease at Seidenberg &Protzko Eye Associates in Havre De Grace, MD. Dr. Fitta is a Beta Sigma Kappa International Optometric Honors Society member and a Student Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry.
Amber Gaume,O.D., FAAOClinical Professor
Dr. Gaume Giannoni is a 2001 graduate of the University of Houston College of Optometry (UHCO), where she also completed a Fellowship in Cornea and Contact Lens Research with the Texas Eye Research and Technology Center. She is currently a Clinical Professor at UHCO and is the Director of the Dry Eye Center at the University Eye Institute. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, she recently added the role of Director of Infectious Disease for the College.
Dr. Gaume Giannoni teaches in all aspects of the optometry program, including the didactic curriculum, clinical laboratories, and direct patient care, and is a clinical examiner in the NEI-sponsored BLINK2 study (Bifocal Lenses in Near Sighted Kids). She has received numerous teaching awards, including the prestigious UH System’s Provost Award for Teaching Excellence (2015), the Women’s Gender Resource Center Distinguished Clinical Faculty Award (2016), the Cora and J. Davis Armistead Teaching Excellence Award (2017) and ten “Outstanding UHCO Faculty” Awards, determined by the student body.
She is a Stage III Diplomate of the American Board of Optometry and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry. She serves on the Editorial Boards for Advanced Ocular Care and the Journal for Dry Eye and Ocular Surface Disease and has been the co-editor for Ocular Surface News and a columnist for Contact Lens Spectrum since 2008.
Anita Gostovic,O.D., M.S., FAAOClinical Assoc Prof
Dr. Anita Ticak received her combined O.D./M.S. degrees from Ohio State College of Optometry (OSU) in 2008 and completed a Residency in Cornea and Contact Lens at the University of Houston College of Optometry the following year. She is a Clinical Associate Professor devoting her time between didactic teaching, clinical teaching, and translational clinical research. Didactically, she is the course master of two courses that directly target transition of student classroom education into clinical application (Clinical Integration and Contact Lens Theory II). Clinically she is the co-founder and an attending faculty in the Dry Eye Service and is the interim Director of the Cornea Contact Lens Service. Dr. Ticak has a passion for evidence-based practice and prioritizes research that can help answer questions and optimize care to her patients. Her previous research was set in the VOI Lab creating custom wavefront-guided scleral lens solutions for the keratoconic population and for the last 7 years she has been the primary clinical examiner for the BLINK studies which focus on myopia management for children.
Dr. Ticak is certified in Texas as an Optometric therapeutic and Glaucoma Specialist and is a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry. Dr. Ticak is also the appointed student faculty liaison for the American Academy of Optometry for the University of Houston. She serves as a Topical Associate Editor for Optometry and Vision Science (OVS), and a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Dry Eye and Ocular Surface Disease (JDEOSD).
Beth Harper,O.D.Clinical Assoc Prof
Director of Residency Programs
Dr. Harper is a Clinical Associate Professor with interests in ocular disease, pediatric eye care, and in improving the educational process for future optometrists. She is a native of upstate New York and moved to Texas in 2017. She completed her undergraduate degree in Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester in western New York. Dr. Harper received her O.D. degree from the State University of New York, College of Optometry (SUNY) in 2007, and completed a Residency in Ocular Disease and Primary Care with the Veterans Administration’s Boston Healthcare System the following year. She spent six years as a clinical educator and administrator at the New England College of Optometry, and also held leadership roles in the Massachusetts Society of Optometrists. For her work in membership and advocacy for the profession, she was awarded the Massachusetts Society of Optometrists’ Young Optometrist of the Year Award in 2012. Currently, Dr. Harper is a member of the Texas Optometric Association and the American Optometric Association. She joined the faculty at UHCO in 2018, serving first as adjunct faculty and joining full-time in 2020. Dr. Harper serves as UHCO’s Director of Residency Programs and is the Director of the Family Practice Service.
Area of ResearchClinical Translational Research Ocular Biology
Structural and functional changes in diabetic eye disease
Wendy Harrison,OD., Ph.D., FAAOAssociate Professor
Dr. Wendy Harrison completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology at the University of Notre Dame and went on to be the first student to complete a joint OD and MS in Vision Science at Indiana University in four years. Following a residency in Cornea and Contact Lenses, also at Indiana, she completed PhD in Vision Science at the University of California Berkeley. She is currently an associate professor at the University of Houston College of Optometry. Her research focuses on diabetic eye diseases and prediabetes and she runs the electrodiagnostic testing in the clinic. She is a member of ARVO, and a fellow in the American Academy of Optometry. Within the Academy she is the current President of the American Academy of Optometry Foundation and part of the leadership of Fellows Doing Research.
Hong Ho,O.D., FAAOClinical Asst Prof
Dr. Dieu-Hong Ho is a clinical assistant professor at the University of Houston College of Optometry. She serves as a clinical attending for 2nd, 3rd and 4th year optometry students in the Family Practice Service and Specialty Pediatrics and Binocular Vision Service. Additionally, she sees patients at TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital. She is also the course director for the Pediatric Optometry I laboratory course and co-course director for the Primary Optometry course.
Dr. Dieu-Hong Ho grew up in Houston, TX. She graduated from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Arts in Developmental Psychology in June 2012 and received her Doctorate of Optometry degree, summa cum laude, from the University of Houston College of Optometry in May 2016. She continued her optometric training with a residency in pediatric optometry and binocular vision at the University of Houston College of Optometry.
Prior to joining UHCO, Dr. Ho was an associate optometrist at a private practice, primarily seeing pediatric patients, for three years. Dr. Ho received her fellowship from the American Academy of Optometry in 2017.
Nicole Hooper,O.D.Clinical Assoc Prof
Dr. Nicole Hooper received her Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology from University of Wyoming and earned her Doctor of Optometry from Southern California College of Optometry. She completed a Residency in Low Vision Rehabilitation at University of Houston College of Optometry and is currently an Adjunct Assistant Professor.
Dr. Hooper has clinical interest in all facets of low vision rehabilitation, with an emphasis on multi-disciplinary collaborative care. She enjoys teaching and learning, and finds working in low vision rehabilitation is both challenging and rewarding, but what she values most is the relationships she has with her patients. She has acquired a particular affinity for working with students with multiple impairments, serving as a board member of the Pediatric Cortical Visual Impairment Society, and is part of a multi-disciplinary collaborative work group on PCVI. She is an Advisor to the Executive Committee for the Houston Area Visually Impaired Network (HAVIN), serves on the Center for Students with DisABILITIES Advisory Board at the University of Houston, and also participates in the Elder Service Provider Network facilitated by the United Way of Greater Houston.
Lucy Kehinde Darnell,O.D., Ph.D., FAAOClinical Assoc Prof
Assistant Dean of Student Affairs
Dr. Lucy Kehinde attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she earned her B.S. in Integrative Biology with a minor in Chemistry in 2005. She then went on to earn her Ph.D. in Vision Sciences in 2009 and O.D. Degree in 2013 from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry in Birmingham, AL. Following the professional program, she completed a Primary Care residency with an emphasis in cornea and contact lens in 2014 at Indiana University School of Optometry in Bloomington, IN.
Dr. Kehinde is now a Therapeutic Optometrist and Optometric Glaucoma Specialist in Houston, TX. After working in private and corporate practice settings, she joined the faculty at University of Houston College of Optometry as Assistant Clinical Professor in 2015. Dr. Kehinde is involved in research studies focusing on ocular surface and dry eye disease, teaches in lecture and laboratory courses, and serves as a clinical attending in Family Practice Service, Dry Eye Center, and the Cornea and Contact Lens Service.
Tonya Ketcham,O.D., Ph.D., FAAOClinical Assistant Professor
Dr. Tonya Ketcham received her Doctor of Optometry degree from Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. Her first job out of optometry school was serving in the United States Air Force and then the Air Guard. After completion of her military service, Dr. Ketcham went back to the Medical Sciences Department of Indiana University and completed a PhD in Pharmacology. Her research interests were in diabetic retinopathy and oxidative stress. While working on her PhD, she was involved in didactic and classroom teaching at the Indiana University College of Optometry. With completion of the PhD, she moved to Houston, TX and became a full time faculty member at University of Houston College of Optometry. Currently, she is on the clinic floor with third and fourth year optometry students in both family practice and medial specialty clinics and has class room responsibilities in Pharmacology and Ocular pathology courses.
Jung-Sun Kim,O.D., Ph.D.Clinical Asst Prof
Dr. Jung-Sun Kim is a clinical optometrist with interests in primary care, ocular disease, and translational research. Dr. Kim received a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Baylor College of Medicine and completed post-doctoral fellowship training in Epigenetics at Houston Methodist Research Institute. After her biomedical research experience, Dr. Kim decided to pursue her dream of becoming an optometrist. She received her Doctor of Optometry degree, Magna cum laude, from the University of Houston College of Optometry. In addition, Dr. Kim continued her clinical training by completing Family Practice residency at the University of Houston College of Optometry.
Area of ResearchClinical Translational Research Biomedical Optics Visual Neuroscience
Development of vision, Anomalies of Binocular Vision, Refractive Error, and Vision Screening Clinical research
Ruth Manny,O.D., Ph.D., FAAOCharles R. Stewart Professor
Dr. Manny received her OD, MS and PhD from the University of Houston, College of Optometry. While earning her graduate degrees she worked part-time in a private practice in Clear Lake, TX. Her clinical expertise is pediatric eye care with an emphasis on infants and preschoolers and those with differing abilities. She has served as the principal investigator for a variety of multi-center studies funded by the National Eye Institute and industry. These studies included clinical trials investigating the development, progression and treatment strategies for myopia (COMET, COMET2, ACHIEVE, CLIP), large collaborative observational studies of myopia (CLEERE, COSMICC), and collaborations with the Pediatric Eye Disease Investigator Group (PEDIG) on treatment strategies for amblyopia and strabismus. She has served on the PEDIG executive committee and as Vice Chair. Additional interests include improving methods to identify young children with or at risk for vision problems. She has served as Chair of the Clinical Science department, and Service Director for the Pediatric Specialty Clinic. Dr. Manny has been on the editorial board of Optometry and Vision Science and served as a topical editor for the journal. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, and the Association for Research in Vision in Ophthalmology and is active in shared governance through the faculty senate serving on the executive committee and many senate committees.
Danica Marrelli,O.D., FAAOClinical Professor
Assistant Dean for Clinical Education
Danica Marrelli received her Doctor of Optometry degree from the University of Houston College of Optometry (UHCO), and completed a residency in hospital-based optometry at the Baltimore VA Medical Center in Baltimore, MD. She is a Clinical Professor at UHCO, where she serves as Assistant Dean of Clinical Education and Service Director of the Ocular Diagnostic/Medical Eye Service. In the classroom, Dr. Marrelli teaches in the ocular pharmacology, glaucoma and case-based learning courses. Dr. Marrelli became a diplomate in the ocular disease (glaucoma) section of the American Academy of Optometry in November 2009. She is the vice president of the Optometric Glaucoma Society. She serves on the Education and Communication Committee of the Glaucoma Research Foundation.
Swati Modi,O.D., FAAOClinical Assoc Prof
Dr. Modi is a Diplomate in Low Vision Rehabilitation, as well as a Fellow, of the American Academy of Optometry, and a member of the American Academy of Optometry, Low Vision Section. She was the President of the Harris County Optometric Society in 2016 and continues to be an active member of the Board of Directors, a member of the Texas Optometric Association, and the American Optometric Association. Dr. Modi practiced in a private optometry office before returning to teaching at the University of Houston College of Optometry.
She is currently an Associate Professor at the University of Houston and teaches clinically in the University Eye Institute’s Center for Sight Enhancement. Dr. Modi is the Course-master of the Low Vision Rehabilitation didactic course and laboratory for optometry 3rd year students and is the Director of the Low Vision Rehabilitation Residency program. She has presented on low vision rehabilitation both nationally and internationally and the recipient of the Corning Low Vision Award and the Feinbloom Low Vision Award. Dr. Modi is an Advisor to the Houston Area Visually Impaired Network (HAVIN) non-profit organization.
Research interests include clinical low vision rehabilitation research, specifically studying the impact of low vision devices on visual function.
Amber NicholsClinical Asst Prof
Dr. Nichols earned her Doctor of Optometry from the University of Houston College of Optometry (UHCO) and then completed a Fellowship in Cornea and Contact Lenses with the Texas Eye Research and Technology Center (TERTC) at UHCO. During that time, she was involved in various corneal pathology research studies and presented case reports at national meetings. She regularly attends national conferences to continue learning about new technology and innovative ideas. Dr. Nichols thrives to collaborate with other scholars to advance the profession of Optometry. Dr. Nichols has a passion for helping patients with keratoconus and corneal transplants improve their vision with custom scleral lenses. Her goal as an educator is to spread her passion and inspire the future Optometrists of the world to do the same.
Area of ResearchClinical Translational Research Biomedical Optics Ocular Biology Visual Neuroscience
Optical coherence tomography, structure-function relationships in glaucoma, algorithm development for early detection of optic nerve pathology
Nimesh Patel,O.D., Ph.D., FAAOAssociate Professor
Dr. Patel graduated from the Southern College of Optometry, Memphis Tennessee in 2002, after which he completed a residency in Family Practice at Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry. He completed his graduate work at the University of Houston, earning a PhD in 2012, and has been on the faculty since. His current research is on improving structural measures of the optic nerve head, retinal nerve fiber layer and macula regions using optical coherence tomography, and investigating the relationship between these structural measures and visual function. He also teaches students in the classroom, laboratory and clinical settings.
Maureen Plaumann,O.D., Ph.D., FAAOClinical Asst Prof
Dr. Plaumann received her Doctor of Optometry degree in 2015 from the Southern California College of Optometry after earning her B.S. in Anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles. She then completed a residency in Pediatric Optometry and Vision Therapy at the Southern California College of Optometry in 2016. Dr. Plaumann is completing her Ph.D. at Ohio State University. Her dissertation work with her advisor, Dr. Teng Leng Ooi, focuses on adult amblyopia, analyzing fixation patterns and developing translational measures of interocular suppression with the goal of one day developing better treatments for the condition. Dr. Plaumann attends in the Binocular Vision and Pediatrics, Vision Therapy, and Primary Vision Care services of the clinic. Dr. Plaumann is the 2021 Danne Ventura/Essilor Ezell Fellow and the 2019 Baycross Christian Family Foundation Binocular Vision & Pediatrics Ezell Fellow. She is also the recipient of a NIH loan repayment program and research fellowship. Dr. Plaumann joins the department of Clinical Sciences as an Assistant Professor.
Area of ResearchClinical Translational Research Biomedical Optics Ocular Biology
high resolution imaging, retinal vascular remodeling in diabetes and aging
Kaitlyn Sapoznik,O.D., Ph.D.Assistant Professor
Dr. Kaitlyn A. Sapoznik received her Doctor of Optometry from Illinois College of Optometry in 2013 and then completed a one-year ocular disease residency at Indiana University School of Optometry in Bloomington, IN. Following her residency, she completed her Ph.D. in Vision Science at Indiana University. Her research uses high-resolution retinal imaging techniques like adaptive optics retinal imaging to better understand retinal microvascular remodeling in aging and disease with an emphasis on diabetic retinopathy. Dr. Sapoznik was awarded the Vision Impact Institute Ezell Fellowship for two-consecutive years.
Area of ResearchBiomedical Optics Ocular Biology Visual Neuroscience
Human subjects, imaging, glaucoma, ocular disease, myopia
Diane N. Sayah,O.D., Ph.D.Assistant Professor
Dr. Diane N. Sayah is an optometrist with special interests in ocular biomechanics and hemodynamics. She obtained her Doctor of Optometry degree from the University of Montreal. She then completed her PhD in glaucoma and biomechanics research at the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital (University of Montreal) and worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard Retinal Imaging Lab (Massachusetts Eye and Ear).
Dr. Sayah served as lecturer and clinical instructor at the University of Montreal School of Optometry for over seven years before joining the University of Houston College of Optometry as an Assistant Professor (tenure-track).
As a clinician-scientist, Dr. Sayah's interests are directed towards neurodegenerative diseases of the eye, particularly glaucoma, as well as myopia. Benefiting from cutting-edge technology and innovative methods for probing biomechanical and choroidal involvement in eye diseases, her objective is to lead translational research which will directly improve clinical care.
Justin Simbulan,O.D.Clinical Asst Prof
Dr. Justin Simbulan graduated from the University of Houston College of Optometry (UHCO) with Magna Cum Laude in 2017. After graduation, he completed a residency in Primary Care at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center, where his training focused on ocular disease, specialty contact lenses, and low vision rehabilitation. After residency, Dr. Simbulan served as a full time staff optometrist at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center where he was involved with direct patient care and acted as an attending for optometry residents and intern students. In 2020, Dr. Simbulan joined UHCO as clinical faculty.
Dr. Simbulan enjoys a practice style that involves diagnosis and treatment of ocular disease such as glaucoma and macular degeneration, as well as participating in the overall management of patients with systemic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension to evaluate for ocular complications. He maintains strong interest in the fitting of specialty contact lenses such as scleral lenses and gas permeable contacts, and involvement in the management of low vision rehabilitation.
Jennifer Tasca,O.D., FAAOClinical Asst Prof
Dr. Tasca graduated from NOVA Southeastern University College of Optometry in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She then completed a residency in Low Vision Rehabilitation at the Feinbloom Center at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry, followed by an additional year of residency in Ocular Disease at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami. Upon completion of the residency, she served on staff at he Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, specializing in Low Vision Rehabilitation. In addition, she was an Adjunct Professor at NOVA College of Optometry.
She then moved to Anchorage, Alaska to serve the Native Alaskan population for three years. In 1999, she joined a private practice in Colorado, providing primary care and low vision rehabilitative services. In 2011, after relocating to the Houston area, she returned to her love of teaching at the University of Houston College of Optometry.
Area of ResearchClinical Translational Research Biomedical Optics Ocular Biology
Anterior segment physiology, scleral contact lens complications, and contact lens optics - specifically for presbyopia and myopia control modalities.
Maria Walker,O.D., Ph.D., FAAOAssistant Professor
Maria K Walker, OD, PhD is a clinician scientist who specializes in anterior segment inflammatory diseases and specialty contact lenses. She graduated with an OD/MS degree from The New England College of Optometry (NECO) in 2013 and went on to complete a one-year Cornea & Contact Lens Residency at Pacific University in Portland, OR. She came to UHCO as an Assistant Professor in 2014 and in 2021 completed a PhD in Physiological Optics with a dissertation entitled: “The Impact of a Scleral Lens on the Eye”. Throughout her education and early career, Maria has won several merit-based awards including the VSP student clinical excellent award (2013), the Sheldon Wechsler contact lens residency award (2014), the Founders’ Grant from the International Society of Contact Lens Specialists (2017), as well as two Ezell fellowships in 2017 and 2018 and the Minnie Turner Award for Vision Researchers in 2019. She is an active Fellow in the American Academy of Optometry, a Fellow and a Past President of the Scleral Lens Education Society, as well as an advisory board member of the Gas Permeable Lens Institute. Maria is currently a tenure-tracked Assistant Professor at UHCO, and the Walker lab is focused on studying the role of immune cells in inflammatory diseases of the cornea and tear film (i.e., keratoconus), as well as the impact of a scleral lens on the eye in diseased and normal eyes.
Samantha Wang,O.D.Clinical Asst Prof
Dr. Samantha Wang grew up in West Palm Beach, Florida and graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition in 2016. She then moved to Texas for her optometric education at the University of Houston College of Optometry where she graduated Summa Cum Laude. After graduation, she completed a residency in Primary Care at the Malcom Randall Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Gainesville, Florida where she received extensive exposure and training on the management of ocular disease such as glaucoma and macular degeneration. Her residency also allowed her to rotate through specialty clinics including uveitis, retina, oculoplastic, and neuro-ophthalmology. Following her residency, she returned to UHCO to serve as clinical assistant professor. Her clinical interests include primary care optometry and ocular disease, especially diseases associated with systemic conditions.
Joe Wheat,O.D., Ph.D., FAAOClinical Assoc Prof
Joe Wheat received his Bachelor of Science in Biology from The University of Texas at Austin, followed by his Doctor of Optometry from The University of Houston College of Optometry. He completed an optometric residency at the Baltimore Veterans Administration Medical Center affiliated with Salus University Pennsylvania College of Optometry before returning to the University of Houston College of Optometry to complete a Ph.D. in Vision Science. Past honors include the William C. Ezell fellowship award, the Institutional Ruth Kirschstein National Research Post-Doctorate Award, and the NIH Mentored-Clinician K award. He has also held a position at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Administration Medical Center in Houston, Texas where he was director of the optometric residency program. In 2017, he joined the University of Houston College of Optometry faculty and is currently the director of the ocular disease optometric residency program and an instructor for Ocular Pathology of the Posterior Segment course and the Grand Rounds and New Developments course. He is a member of the Optometric Glaucoma Society and a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry.