Joe and Janet Barr Early Career Cornea and Contact Lens Research Award

History and Purpose

In 2012, in recognition of extraordinary contributions to optometry and contact lenses, the AAOF established a fund to honor an exceptional mentor and role model of our profession, Dr. Joseph T. Barr.  Through his career, Dr. Barr has served in multiple roles including as a professor at The Ohio State University College of Optometry, Chair of the AAO Section on Cornea and Contact Lenses, editor of Contact Lens Spectrum, and Vice-President Clinical & Medical Affairs Global Vision Care at Bausch + Lomb. Dr. Barr’s commitment to make a difference in the profession continued with his membership in the President’s Circle of giving, as a previous member on the Foundation Board of Directors, and as chair of the AAOF Corporate Advisory Committee.

As an academic, researcher, clinician and industry leader, Dr. Barr acknowledges that some of his success is due to a combination of having wonderful mentors and amazing support systems in his early career development. It was valuable in his early career to have even a small amount of funding to seed research. This small amount of seed funding often led not only to important knowledge, but also to further questions that needed answers and often further funding. This enabled him to learn, grow, and eventually lead and shape the direction of optometry. The creation of a fund in his honor offers an avenue to create that opportunity for another future optometric leader.


To provide an entering first or second year MS or PhD (can be in a graduate program alone, or combined with professional/residency program) vision science or physiological optics student attending a school/college of optometry support of $2,000 for research project seed funding in the area of cornea/ocular surface or contact lenses. Priority will be given to North American applicants but is not a requirement to apply. 

The funds will be payable to the institution of record for a new upcoming project not already funded from another source, plus $750 travel funding to the AAO annual meeting for use within one year from award issue.

Recipient must attend the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Optometry and attend the AAOF Celebration Luncheon to receive their award. The recipient is also required to perform volunteer service at the AAOF Booth. Recipient must not have applied during the same application year nor previously received an Ezell Fellowship.

This award will be eligible competitively for a one-time renewal.

Application Criteria

The submission window opens February 1, 2021 and closes April 1, 2021.

Applicants MUST submit all the necessary documents (shown below) by clicking APPLY NOW on the left of the page by the deadline stated above.

Priority will be given to North American applicants but is not a requirement to apply. 
  • Applicants must be a student member of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO). To learn more, visit the Student Membership page.
  • A copy of a current CV/resume
  • A 1-page statement describing past and present educational and research achievements, future educational objectives, and long-term career goals in the areas of cornea and contact lens research
  • An up to 2-page summary of the proposed research project.  Include a summary of the relevant background/rationale and hypotheses, purpose, methods (including planned analyses), and budget (including any cost-share or additional funding mechanisms).  If this is a renewal application, provide a detailed description of the project over the previous funding cycle.
  • If any submitted or published papers, submit copies of no more than three best representations of your work. One may include abstracts but only if they are citable.
  • A letter from the Dean, Associate Dean for Research, or authorized official stating that the applicant has been accepted into or is currently enrolled in the first year of a Vision Science/Physiological Optics MS or PhD program at a school/college of optometry and that any funds received from the AAOF will go only in support the proposed project and not decrease any academic financial support.
  • A letter from a research supervisor/mentor describing their support of the described project and educational advancement of the applicant during the award period.
  • Signed AAOF Research Agreement once recipient is chosen and before money is disbursed.

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. 

Award Notes

Funds support research conducted for a period of one year. Recipients must submit a 2-page progress report detailing the scientific knowledge gained during the funding period and how this information was/will be communicated (e.g. publication, presentation) to the AAOF at the end of the award period. Recipients are encouraged to submit a manuscript to Optometry and Vision Science.

The AAOF is a non-profit organization and our policy is not to cover any overhead/indirect costs associated with research awards or any other of our programs. This policy applies uniformly to all award recipients.

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 to the same meeting from the Foundation or its parent organization, 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 will 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.

Please direct questions to: 

Jennifer Rubin
Grants and Awards Manager
2909 Fairgreen Street
Orlando, FL 32803, USA
Phone: 321-319-4872

Past Recipients

2021  Gulnoza Azieva

State University of New York College of Optometry

2020  Sidra Sarwat, BOptom, MSc
University of New South Wales School of Optometry and Vision Science

2019  Rabia Mobeen
University of New South Wales School of Optometry and Vision Science

2019  Pabita Dhungel, BOptom, MS
Pacific University College of Optometry

2018  Eugene Appenteng Osae, OD
University of Houston College of Optometry

2017  Yuno Iwabuchi 
Pacific University College of Optometry
Photo Credit: National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health (NEI/NIH)
Eugene & DK

2021 Barr Recipient
Gulnoza Azieva