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

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

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

Applications should consist of six pages or less, preferably in PDF format (International applicants with access limitations to a computer may submit in hand or typewritten format) and contain the following:  

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

b.     CV that includes the applicant’s education, clinical, research, and teaching experience

c.     Research plan:

•    Statement of problem
•    Experimental design
•    Institution and other resources available
•    Relevance of problem to clinical optometry, vision science, or eye related public health
•    Plans for publication
•    Time table

d.     Budget explanation

•    State amount of grant request
•    Describe/Itemize costs
•    Justification for equipment, supplies and other expenses

Note: Nominal research subject payments are allowable.

e.   Helsinki declaration (required only if human subjects involved)
f.   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.

Applications and supporting materials should be emailed to AAOF@aaoptom.org and include the words BSK + last name of applicant in the subject line of the email.

Applications 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.

Applications are reviewed by the Research Committee and AAOF Programs Approval Committee (PAC).

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

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 are encouraged to present at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Optometry and to submit a manuscript to Optometry and Vision Science. Any manuscript or publication material produced must acknowledge the American Academy of Optometry Foundation and Beta Sigma Kappa International Optometric Honor Society.

Applicants must be a member of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO). To learn more, visit the AAO website: Student Membership for student membership information and Candidate for Fellowship for how to become a Fellow. 

Recognition of Awardees

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

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 newletters, and annual meeting promotional materials.

Program Notes

Prior to window open (at least two months prior to deadline), guidelines for any given award are subject to change by the AAOF and/or the award sponsor. The notice of the availability of a program will be sent by email to institution contacts. Applicants are reminded to please review all guideline information before submitting their application to ensure it meets all criteria.


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)