Jill and George Mertz Fellowship


ORLANDO, FL (April 17, 2013) - The American Optometric Foundation (AOF) is excited to be able to present the inaugural Jill and George Mertz Fellowship to Joel De Melo Bambamba, an optometry graduate from and faculty member of the Universidade Lurio School of Optometry in Mozambique. Mr. Bambamba is planning to carry out his Fellowship at the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico in order to further develop his clinical and didactic teaching skills and to gain advanced knowledge of North American Doctor of Optometry programs. He hopes to share the learning experiences acquired during the Fellowship program with the UniLurio School of Optometry and other Schools of Optometry in both Africa and Latin America. AOF President Kathy Dumbleton said, “We congratulate Mr. Bambamba on this award and look forward to meeting him at Academy 2013 Seattle in October. We believe that this will be a transformative experience for him.”

Background -About Jill and George Mertz

The Jill and George Mertz Fellowship is a biennial $30,000 award celebrating former American Optometric Foundation President George Mertz and his wife Jill. Both passed away too soon. Jill’s estate and George’s colleagues created a substantial fund to honor their commitment to optometry and education. George once wrote:

"The training of qualified educator(s)/researchers is critical to the bright future we all want for optometry.  Those who choose academic careers in optometry have less than half the lifetime earning power of those who enter most of the various modes of optometric practice.  The few who sacrifice personal gain for the good of the profession in this way are deserving of our gratitude and support.  While the AOF has a distinguished record of support for post-graduate optometric education through Ezell Fellowships and other programs, there is still a need to do much more."

For further information, contact:
Tracy Kitts
Foundation Coordinator                                       
American Optometric Foundation

Eligibility and Award

A $30,000 Mertz Fellowship is available for 2013 to support travel to another institution to conduct a period of study. Optometrists at any stage of their career are eligible to apply. The Mertz Fellowship could support an individual who has recently completed his/her training or someone in the middle of a successful career.

George and Jill both traveled internationally and valued the experience. Thus applications that meet the following criteria are encouraged:

  • Promotion of an exchange of educational or scientific methodologies
  • Potential for outcomes not otherwise possible by encouraging a diversity of experience and thinking.

The applicant must be either:

  • a US or Canadian citizen (or permanent resident) who will conduct his/her fellowship outside North America; or
  • a foreign national who will conduct his/her fellowship in North America.

The Foundation looks forward to receiving innovative and exciting applications. Applications cannot merely extend a period of study or employment, or include major equipment.

Application Procedures

Application Deadline is February 22, 2013. Next issue of this award will occur in 2015.

Applications must begin with a cover letter consisting of full contact information including how the applicant's degree should appear in reports and or news items and full contact information for the host administrator and institution.

The application has two key components:

  1. The applicant must submit a two-page description of how the Mertz Fellowship will be used, the exceptional opportunity that it will provide, and the impact it will have on the applicant's career. The period of the Fellowship is not fixed, but must be at least six months in duration. A curriculum vitae of no more than three pages should accompany the application.
  2. The proposed host institution must submit a letter of support and a budget describing how the Mertz Fellowship funds will be used. The institution may match or supplement the Fellowship to increase the value of the experience. The award will be made to the host institution. The AOF is a non-profit organization and does not supply any indirect costs associated with this or any other of it's programs.

Applications should be emailed to AOF@aaoptom.org and include the words “Mertz Fellowship (+applicant last name)” in the subject line of the email. Attachments should be saved as pdfs with the title "(applicant last name) Mertz 2013".

Review Procedures

A committee convened by the American Optometric Foundation will review all Mertz Fellowship applications and send its recommendations to the AOF Board which approves the final decision and administers the Mertz Fellowships. Award announcement is planned for July and funds will be distributed in August, 2013, U.S. currency.

Program Notes

In accepting a Mertz Fellowship, the recipient agrees to:

  • Submit a one-page progress report after six months.
  • Notify AOF of changes in recipient's ability to complete the fellowship, contact information, or institution changes.
  • Acknowledge the AOF in written and oral presentations (articles, abstracts, or research conducted) as a result of the Mertz Fellowship.
  • Attend the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Optometry including the AOF Celebration Luncheon in Seattle, October 23-26, 2013.

All submissions will receive a confirmation email within 3 business days of receipt. The applicant will receive an additional message only if the application is incomplete.

On acceptance of an award recipients agree to allow the AOF 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 annual report, website, and any AOF or American Academy of Optometry Annual Meeting promotional materials.

For further information, contact:

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