William C. Ezell Fellowships


Since 1949 the American Academy of Optometry Foundation has offered Ezell Fellowships to encourage talented persons to pursue full-time careers in optometric research and education in a school or college of optometry. These fellowships provide support to graduate students (primarily optometrists) 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 AAOF. 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 300 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 130 faculty members and over 160 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. The Ezell Fellowship program is extremely competitive. There are approximately 40 applicants for an estimated nine to eleven Fellowships given each year, several of which focus on specialized areas of research, such as glaucoma, corneal and contact lenses, public health, and, new this year, binocular vision and pediatrics (read more below).

Graduate students, currently enrolled, who as of September 1, 2017 will still be registered as a graduate student in a full-time program of study and training in vision-related research that leads to a Master's or PhD degree.

NOTE: New for 2017! Ezell Fellowships are non-renewable for a second term. Applicants who have previously received an Ezell Fellowship are not eligible to apply.

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

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 AAOF Ezell Fellowship, students agree to:

  • comply with all programmatic requests and to notify AAOF of changes in student status
  • submit to scientific programs for presenting at Academy 2017 Chicago (if applicable)
  • acknowledge the AAOF in written and oral presentations
  • attend the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Optometry for the AAOF Celebration Luncheon, Ezell Dinner, and to perform volunteer service at the AAOF Booth.
  • pursue a full-time career in optometric education and research in a school or college of optometry
  • consider support of the AaOF through the Ezell Club and work toward Fellowship
  • submit a W-8 form (Non-U.S. residents) or W-9 form (U.S. Residents).

It is the standard policy of the AAOF that program recipients who receive, as part of their award, a travel stipend to attend an event, cannot also receive a second or duplicate travel stipend from the Foundation or its affiliate, the AAO.

All award recipients by application and acceptance of an award agree to allow the AAOF 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 AAOF and/or sponsor annual report, website, annual meeting promotional materials.

For further information contact:

Jennifer Rubin, Foundation Coordinator
American Optometric Foundation
2909 Fairgreen Street
Orlando, FL 32803, USA
Tel 321-319-4872


ORLANDO, FL (June 3, 2016) - The American Academy of Optometry Foannounces the nine recipients for the 2016 William C. Ezell Fellowship program. The Ezell Fellowship program is named after the founding President of the AOF, William C. Ezell, OD. It was established to provide talented post-doctoral students who are pursuing an advanced degree in optometric research and education recognition and support. To date, over 300 William C. Ezell Fellowships have been awarded since the inception of the program in 1949.

Funding for these Fellowships is provided by leading optometric companies, private endowments, and other generous business organizations that represent most sectors of the industry.

The AAOF congratulates the following students who have been selected as 2016 - 2017 Ezell Fellows:

William C. Ezell Fellow sponsored by The Alcon Foundation

Jessica Wei, BS -University of California Berkeley School of Optometry

American Academy of Optometry Ezell Fellow

Kristen Bowles, OD, MS -University of Houston College of Optometry

AAO Section on Cornea, Contact Lenses and Refractive Technologies Ezell Fellow

Cameron K. Postnikoff, MASc -University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry

Irvin M. Borish –Essilor Ezell Fellow

Aiswaryah Radhakrishnan, BS Optom, M.Phil. Optom -Universidad Complutense de Madrid

Mike Daley – Essilor Ezell Fellow

Wenlin Zhang, MD -Indiana University School of Optometry

Merton C. Flom Leadership Ezell Fellow

Anna F. Ablamowicz, OD, FAAO -University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry

Michael G. Harris Ezell Fellow

Alexandra E. Boehm, BS -University of California Berkeley School of Optometry

Optometric Glaucoma Society Ezell Fellow

Jack Phu, B. Optom, MPH, FAAO -University of New South Wales School of Optometry

William C Ezell Fellow sponsored by Vision Impact Institute 

Preeji S. Mandathara, BSc, MSc -University of New South Wales School of Optometry

This year’s Ezell Fellows will be honored at the AAOF’s Annual Celebration Luncheon on November 12th, during the American Academy of Optometry’s Annual Meeting in Anaheim, California.