Beta Sigma Kappa Research Fellowship

History and Purpose

BSK was founded in 1925 by a small group of optometrists in Illinois. Beta Sigma Kappa now has student chapters in every school and college of optometry in the United States, with two in Canada, and one in Puerto Rico. The Society supports the formation and activities of student chapters and works with the schools and colleges to develop programs that foster academic excellence.


The Beta Sigma Kappa (BSK) Research Fellowship, administered by the American Academy of Optometry Foundation (AAOF), supports new optometric and vision science faculty research and optometric resident research.  The fellowship funding is designed to benefit individuals early in their career whose academic curiosity leads them to seek answers to a vast variety of professionally-based questions covering a wide area of vision science, clinical practice, or eye related public health.

Eligibility and Application

The submission window opens June 1, 2020 and closes August 1, 2020.

i. All optometric related faculty, including adjunct faculty, within three years of initial academic faculty appointment, optometric residents, and fellows at any school or college of optometry, irrespective of membership in BSK, are eligible to apply for a BSK Research Fellowship.

ii. Applicants must be a member of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO), whether as a Fellow or Candidate.

iii. One fellowship of $4,000 will be awarded annually.

iv.  Research proposals should be in Arial 11 font with half-inch margins and be single spaced. Research proposals should be uploaded as a single file in PDF format, six pages or less, and contain the following:

  1. Cover page with project title, institution and address, name, including degree(s), and title for faculty member with contact information.

  2. Research plan:
    • Statement of problem
    • Experimental design
    • Relevance of problem to clinical optometry, vision science, or eye related public health
    • Supporting institution and other resources available
    • Plans for publication
    • Time table of research plan
  3. Budget explanation

      Note: Nominal research subject payments are allowable.

    • State amount of grant request
    • Describe/Itemize costs
    • Justification for equipment, supplies and other expenses
  4. In addition, include a CV with the applicant’s education, clinical, research, and teaching experience. The CV should not exceed three pages and should be uploaded as a separate PDF file.

   5. Helsinki declaration (required only if human subjects involved)

   6. Letter of endorsement by Faculty Advisor, Dean or President/Director of the school/college that also indicates the proposal was reviewed and meets with the standards of the institution.

v.  Applications and supporting materials should be emailed to and include the words BSK + last name of applicant in the subject line of the email. Applicants will receive a confirmation by e-mail from the AAOF within three business days of receipt.  If you do not receive a confirmation, contact the AAOF office to ensure the application is on file.

Review Procedures

Applications are reviewed for scientific merit by the Research Committee. The Programs Approval Committee (PAC) selects the final awardee based on merit and programmatic goals. The Foundation Board reviews and approves funding via the Beta Sigma Kappa International Optometric Honor Society.

Program Notes

vi.  Funds support research conducted for a period up to one year.

vii.  The AAOF is a non-profit organization; as such our policy is not to cover any indirect costs associated with research grants for any of our programs. This policy applies uniformly to all award recipients. 

viii.  Recipients must submit a final report of their research findings no later than August 1st of the year after funding was awarded or the applicant and/or institution become ineligible for funding the subsequent year. The preferred submission is an article in a form suitable for publication.

Recipients should plan to attend and present at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Optometry in the years of review and award. Recipients are encouraged to submit their results as a manuscript to Optometry and Vision Science. The manuscript should reflect results of the funded work. Any manuscript or publication material produced must acknowledge the American Academy of Optometry Foundation and Beta Sigma Kappa International Optometric Honor Society.

1. The award recipient(s) and an institution representative should plan to attend the American Academy of Optometry Foundation Celebration Luncheon, where both the recipient and institution will receive the award and recognition.

2. All award recipients, by application and acceptance of an award, agree to allow the AAOF and the fellowship sponsor, Beta Sigma Kappa International Honor Society, 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 fellowship including, but not limited to, the AAOF and/or sponsor annual report, website, social media, Academy/Foundation newsletters, and annual meeting promotional materials.



Jack Phu, OD, PhD, FAAO
University of New South Wales School of Optometry and Vision Science
Project: Phenotyping open-angle glaucoma subtypes to determine disease prognosis

Sima T. Mozdbar, OD
University of North Texas Health Science Center
Project: Cognitive Dysfunction and the 25-Item National Eye Institute Visual Function Questionnaire     

Xiaohua Zhuang, PhD
Illinois College of Optometry
Project: Flicker Adaptation Probes Detection of Contrast Sensitivity loss in Early Glaucoma

Adam J. Peiffer, OD
The Ohio State University College of Optometry
Project: Collaborative Assessment of Neurocognition and Vision in Adolescents with Sports-related (CANVAS) Concussion Study

Anna F. Ablamowicz, OD, FAAO
University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Optometry
Project: Investigation of an Inflammatory Component of Lid Wiper Epitheliopathy in Dry Eye Disease

Jillian Meadows,OD, MS, FAAO 
University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Optometry
Project: The Isolated and Interactive Effects of Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids on the Lipidome and Inflammatory Proteome of Human Meibomian Gland Epithelial Cells in Health Disease
Melanie Akau, OD, FAAO
New England College of Optometry
Project: Quality of Life, Macular Thickness, and Central Visual Field Charateristics in Primary Open Angle Glaucoma
Kristine Dalton, OD, PhD, FAAO
University of Waterloo School of Optometry and Vision Science
Project: Examination fo the Effects of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury on Visual Function, Visual-Motor Coordination and Postural Stability in Adolescents
Brett King, OD, FAAO
Indiana University, School of Optometry               
Project: Measurement of Retinal Blood Flow Prior to and After Instillation of Topical Anti-Ocular Hypertensive Medications using an Adaptive Optics Scanning Laser Opthalmoscope
Christina E. Morettin, OD
Illinois College of Optometry
Project: Visual Structure and Function in Contact Sport Athletes
Daniel Powell, BS, OD, MS
The Ohio State University College of Optometry
Project: Assessment of Tear Film and Ocular Surface Alterations in Cigarette Smokers
Patrick Scott, OD, PhD, FAAO
University of Louisville, School of Medicine
Project: Morphological Characterization of Photoreceptor Degeneration in a Swine Model of Retinitis Pigmentosa
Photo Credit: National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health (NEI/NIH)