History and Purpose

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 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 (ARVO), which are $750 each.

The American Academy of Optometry Foundation has awarded over 400 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.

Eligibility and Application

You must use your Academy login credentials to access the application. 

i. The submission window opens December 7, 2020 and closes February 1, 2021. 

**Recommendation letters will be accepted until February 8, 2021 provided the application was submitted successfully by the February 1, 2021 closing date.**

**Application cannot be completed on Mozilla Firefox browser**

ii. Fellowship 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. Fellowships focus on specialized areas of research, such as glaucoma, cornea and contact lenses, and binocular vision and pediatrics. 

iii. Preference will be given to first time awardees.  Previous Ezell Fellows are eligible to apply. The maximum number of times an individual can be awarded an Ezell Fellowship is two.

iv. Applicants must be a graduate student enrolled in a full-time program of study and training in vision-related research that leads to a Master's or PhD degree. Completion of the degree program cannot be within the calendar year of the award/competition. 

v. 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: Student Membership for student membership information and Candidate for Fellowship for how to become a Fellow. 

Applications are submitted online and must include:

Personal Statement (200 word limit) to include:

1. Your commitment and interest in optometric research and education
2. Any additional academic or research training, including honors, lectures, papers, posters not captured in your biosketch
3. Your teaching experience, training, and future education goals
4. Your short and long term career goals

NIH Biosketch - You must upload the "non-fellowship"  NIH formatted bio sketch 
Please note: In the Scholastic Performance section you do not need to list specific course listings and grades. 

URL Bibliography - Your published works bibliography must be submitted as a URL link 

Three (1-2 pages each at maximum) letters of recommendation from persons qualified to comment on your educational qualifications, research abilities, potential, and future teaching capabilities.

 **Please note that a notification will be sent to the recommender with instructions to upload their letter once your application is submitted** 

Review Procedures

All grant/award submissions are initially reviewed for completeness and eligibility by Academy staff.  Staff will work to notify applicants of eligibility and incompleteness prior to the application deadline to the extent feasible.  Complete, eligible applications are then sent to the AAO Research Committee to provide a scientific merit review. This reviewing body sends its recommendations to the Programs Advisory Committee (PAC) who uses the reviewing body recommendations to select the final awardees in alignment with programmatic needs and corresponding gift agreements.  The decision of the PAC is then sent to the AAOF Board for review and approval. The AAO/AAOF Conflict of Interest policy governs the actions of individuals involved throughout this review and approval process. 

Program Notes

In accepting an Ezell Fellowship, students agree to:

  • comply with all programmatic requests and to notify the Foundation of changes in student status such as a change to part-time status, a pause in training, or a discontinuation of training
  • submit an abstract to the Academy Scientific Program in the year of application submission and award. Plan to attend the full Annual Meeting and the Foundation Celebration Luncheon, and perform a minimum of two volunteer hours at the Foundation booth
  • acknowledge the Foundation in written and oral presentations
  • submit a W-8 form (Non-U.S. residents) or W-9 form (U.S. Residents)
  • consider pursuing a full-time career in optometric education and research in a school or college of optometry and supporting the Foundation through the Ezell Club, and working toward Fellowship in the AAO if not already obtained

It is the standard policy of the Foundation that program recipients who receive a travel stipend as part of their award cannot 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 Foundation 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 Foundation and/or sponsor annual report, website, and annual meeting promotional materials.

For further information contact:

Jennifer Rubin
Awards and Student Membership Engagement Manager
622 E. Washington St. #300
Orlando, FL 32801
Phone: 321-319-4872
AAOAwards@aaoptom.org

Past Recipients

The AAOF congratulates the following recipients who have been selected as the 2021 William C. Ezell Fellows:

AAO Section on Cornea, Contact Lenses, and Refractive Technologies (CCLRT) Ezell Fellow
Young Hyun Kim
University of California at Berkeley School of Optometry

American Academy of Optometry (AAO) Ezell Fellow
Jennyffer D. Smith, OD
University of Houston College of Optometry

American Academy of Optometry Foundation (AAOF) Ezell Fellow
Yiyi (Charlotte) Wang, OD, FAAO
University of California at Berkeley School of Optometry

Danne Ventura / Essilor Ezell Fellow
Maureen D. Plaumann, OD, FAAO
The Ohio State University College of Optometry

Facebook Ezell Fellow
Rebecca Deffler, OD, MS, FAAO
The Ohio State University College of Optometry

Irvin M. Borish / Essilor Ezell Fellow
Neeraj Singh, BSOptom, MPhil
Indiana University School of Optometry

John N. Schoen Ezell Fellow
Erin Sayoko Tomiyama, OD, MS, FAAO
University of Houston College of Optometry

Merton C. Flom Leadership Ezell Fellow
Breanne McGhee, OD, MEd, FAAO
Pacific University College of Optometry

Michael G. Harris Ezell Fellow
Erica R. Shelton, OD, MS, FAAO
The Ohio State University College of Optometry

Mike Daley / Essilor Ezell Fellow
Rabia Mobeen
University of New South Wales School of Optometry and Vision Science

Optometric Glaucoma Society (OGS) Ezell Fellow
Janelle Tong, BOptom
University of New South Wales School of Optometry and Vision Science

Rod Tahran / Essilor Ezell Fellow
Amy Hiu Yan Chow, OD
University of Waterloo School of Optometry and Vision Science


AAOF Programs for Graduate Students

The 2020 William C. Ezell Fellowship recipients, Past President of the Foundation Pete Kollbaum and Grants and Awards Manager Jennifer Rubin.