William C. Ezell Fellowships



Since 1947 the American Optometric Foundation has offered Ezell Fellowships to encourage talented persons to pursue full-time careers in optometric research and education. These fellowships support graduate students enrolled in a full-time program of study and training in vision-related research that leads to a Master's or PhD degree.

The Ezell Fellowships have become the flagship program of the AOF. Fellowships are for one year and the current amount of the award is $8,000. Each student also receives travel grants to the annual meetings of the American Academy of Optometry and the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, which are $750 each.

The American Optometric Foundation has awarded more than 250 Fellowships to students pursuing graduate studies. Among the list of former Ezell Fellows are over 20 deans and presidents of optometric schools and colleges, over 100 faculty members and over 100 Fellows of the American Academy of Optometry, including three of its presidents.

Award and Eligibility

Fellowships are $8,000. Distribution is to the individual and released in the Fall. Reapplication can lead to funding for an additional year with repeat applicants encouraged to show significant research progress in their application, however, only under exceptional circumstances will recipients be funded for a third year.

Graduate students, in a full-time program of study and training in vision-related research that leads to a Master's or PhD degree.

Applicants must be a member of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO); whether as a student, candidate, or Fellow.  To learn more, visit the AAO website: www.aaopt.org/becoming/smembership (for student membership information) and www.aaopt.org/becoming (for candidates).

Application Procedures

Deadline is Monday, February 16, 2015*.  *New deadline to allow enough time for recipients to submit paper or poster to scientific program committee for Academy 2015 New Orleans and to move from a Sunday deadline.

  • New and renewal applications, including associated materials, must be received by February 16, 2015.
  • Applications and supporting materials should be emailed to AOF@aaoptom.org
  • Include the words Ezell Fellowship (+applicant last name) in the subject line of the email.
  • Attachments should preferably be saved as pdfs, although MS Word is acceptable. A few attachments containing multiple documents is preferred to multiple attachments.
  • All attachments must be saved with a unique file name. The first word in the file name should be the applicant’s last name.
  • Letters of recommendation should be emailed by the recommender to AOF@aaoptom.org

All submissions receive a confirming email within 1-3 business days of receipt. You will receive an additional message only if any of the supportive letters are not delivered. If you do not receive a confirmation your submission file may have been too large to pass security measures.

The following items constitute a complete submission for candidacy:

1. Complete the 2015 William C. Ezell Fellowship Application.

2. Three letters of recommendation from persons qualified to comment on your educational qualifications, research abilities, potential, and current plus future teaching capabilities. These should be emailed separately from your application by the recommender.  (Renewal applicants: one of the three letters must be from your advisor commenting on your progress.)

3. A one-page statement in which you describe your educational objectives, future research and/or teaching interest, and career objectives. (Renewal applicants: also include your description of last year's progress.)

4. A copy of maximum three key papers that best represent your scientific publications (do not include abstracts, theses, or other applications). May include copies of papers in press.

Review Procedures

The Research Committee of the American Academy of Optometry reviews all fellowship applications and sends its recommendations to the Foundation which approves and funds the Ezell Fellowships through endowments and corporate sponsorship.

Program Notes

In accepting an AOF Ezell Fellowship, students agree to:

  • submit annual progress reports
  • notify AOF of changes in their program
  • acknowledge the AOF in written and oral presentations
  • attend the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Optometry, the AOF Celebration Luncheon and perform volunteer service at the AOF Booth.
  • pursue a full-time career in optometric education and research in a school or college of optometry
  • consider support of the AOF through the Ezell Club and work towards Fellowship
  • submit a W-8 form (Non-U.S. residents) or W-9 form (U.S. Residents).

All award recipients by application and acceptance of an award agree to allow the AOF and/or the sponsor of the program to which they applied to publish their name, image, institution information, and any statement or quote provided by the recipient. These may appear in a variety of media formats that will announce and promote the program including, but not limited to, the AOF and/or sponsor annual report, website, annual meeting promotional materials.

For further information contact:

American Optometric Foundation
2909 Fairgreen Street
Orlando, FL 32803, USA
Tel 321-710-3936


American Optometric Foundation 2014–2015 William C. Ezell Fellowships


ORLANDO, FL (September 12, 2014) —Seven post doctoral students representing five schools and colleges of optometry are the 2014 recipients of the American Optometric Foundation (AOF) William C. Ezell Fellowships. Each was chosen for their exemplary research progress toward trying to answer a range of questions in front of the optometric healthcare sector.

Since 1947, Ezell Fellowships are designed to encourage graduate students enrolled in a full-time program of study and training in vision-related research that leads to a Master's or PhD degree to pursue full-time careers in optometric research and education. Credentials include research experience with strong scientific publication, academic achievement, recognition from mentors, and professional accomplishments. Fellowships are for one year with an $8,000 award to support post-doctoral education. Each recipient also receives travel grants to the annual meetings of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) and the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO).

This year, the AOF will be honoring former Ezell Fellow, Dr. Anthony “Tony” J. Adams, with a named Ezell Club Fellowship. Dr. Adams is the Editor-in-Chief for Optometry & Vision Science, a former Dean of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Optometry, a past President of the AOF and long time AOF supporter.  The AOF invites all who have benefited from Tony’s mentorship, or have been influenced by Dr. Adams and his work, to donate to the Ezell Fellowship Fund.  To learn more about this year’s honoree or give to this key program visit our website at www.aaopt.org/AOF/donate/ezell

Each Ezell Fellow will be presented for recognition to their peers at the AOF Celebration Luncheon, Saturday, November 15th, during the annual meeting of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO), Denver, CO, November 12th – 15th. AOF President Kathy Dumbleton, PhD, MC Optom, FAAO, recently remarked, “We look forward to celebrating the successes of the 2014 Ezell Fellows in Denver and I am so pleased that once again, the flagship program of the AOF is able to provide support for these outstanding individuals while they are pursuing their graduate studies.”

These awards are sustained through the generosity of several private endowments, corporate sponsorship, including The Alcon Foundation and Essilor of America; and with the help of member and outside donor support. The American Optometric Foundation’s premier Ezell Fellowship program is a true reflection of the continuing commitment to support optometric research and education in vision and eye health to improve clinical patient care.

Your 2014 William C. Ezell Fellows are:


Julie Mocko-Strand, BS –University of Houston College of Optometry, whose research focus is Effects of high dose vitamin A supplementation in an oxygen-induced rat model of retinopathy of prematurity.


William Ngo, OD, BSc, University of Waterloo School of Optometry and Vision Science, whose research focus is Contemporary diagnosis and management of dry eye.


Tan Ngoc Truong, OD, MPH -University of California, Berkeley, School of Optometry, whose research focus is Investigating the biological mechanisms that modulate lymph angiogenesis during corneal inflammation.


Rose Reins, BA –University of Houston College of Optometry whose research focus is Function and activation of vitamin D at the ocular surface and its role in inflammation.


Renfeng Xu, MD, MS, Indiana University School of Optometry, whose research focus is Non-accommodative strategies of presbyopia correction.


Cristina Law, OD, –State University of New York (SUNY) College of Optometry,  whose research focus is Visual Neuroplasticity in Adult Amblyopia.


Wing “Eric” Li, OD, MPH –University of California, Berkeley, School of Optometry, whose research focus is Understanding Factors that Contribute to Evaporative Dry Eye Syndrome.



Endowed Ezell Fellowships

The Michael G. Harris Ezell Fellowship

The Foundation has received a $240,000 commitment to establish the Michael G. Harris Ezell Fellowship. This award will provide support for an optometrist pursuing graduate work in education, public policy, public health, or related areas. Michael has a history of leadership and philanthropy, further demonstrated by this magnificent gift. The Foundation will award the first Harris Ezell in 2010.

The Optometric Glaucoma Society Ezell Fellowship

The Optometric Glaucoma Society (OGS) has pledged to endow an Ezell Fellowship to support a graduate student in optometry and vision science working on glaucoma-related research. Under the leadership of Murray Fingeret and Tom Lewis, OGS will work with the Foundation to raise the $200,000 necessary to endow the award. They have set an ambitious goal of raising the funds within the next three years. While some of the funds will come for the Society’s corporate sponsors, the OGS membership will make individual three-year pledges to the fund. They invite all doctors interested and engaged in the management of glaucoma to join them by making a gift or pledge to the fund.

The Merton Flom Ezell Fellowship in Leadership

Mert Flom is a former Ezell Fellow, a former Academy President, and an academic leader of our profession in every sense. His passion for training, research, and leadership has led the Flom family to make significant lead pledges to establish an Ezell Fellowship with an emphasis on leadership, hopefully to include participation in courses and an internship. Mert and his wife Pene, Mert’s daughter Roanne and son-in-law Tom Raasch, and Mert’s son Walt and daughter-in-law Gail have all pledged their support for the fund. Friends of Mert have also pledged substantial support with the goal of reaching the $200,000 to endow the Fellowship. We invite all Academy Fellows who have been touched by Mert’s influence and passion to support the fund by making a five-year pledge or a one-time gift.

AOF Pledge Form in PDF format