History and Purpose

Dr. Morris Kirschen had a life-long dedication to the American Academy of Optometry. He served the AAO in various capacities including Chair of the Admittance Committee for more than 10 years. His greatest pleasure was welcoming the new fellows into the Academy each year at the annual banquet. Morris is survived by his two children Sandy and David. Sandy worked in the optical industry for many years and David, also an optometrist, has served the Academy for over 30 years including chairing the Scientific Program Committee for over 10 years. David is currently President of the American Academy of Optometry Foundation.

Sandy and David decided to honor their father’s love for the Academy by endowing a Student Travel Grant to encourage optometry students to come to the annual meeting and become fellows in the Academy.


The Kirschen Family Student Travel Fellowship is available to students currently in their third or fourth year of optometry school, who are in good academic standing and plan to pursue a career in private practice. These fellowships are designed to encourage optometry students to attend key national meetings and contribute to the body of knowledge within the field. 

Eligibility and Application

The submission window opens July 1, 2019 and closes July 31, 2019.

  • Open to 3rd and 4th year students at all schools
  • Plans to pursue a career in private practice
  • Must be a member of the American Academy of Optometry
  • Presenting a paper or poster is desired but not requirement

Fellowship Requirements

  • A one page statement about themselves and why they are choosing private practice
  • At least one letter of recommendation

Materials MUST be submitted online by the deadline date (shown below) using the online submission tool. Applications that remain incomplete after the deadline date will not be evaluated. 

Fellowship Notes

Although students can apply to attend a meeting for which they have previously been awarded a travel fellowship, priority may be given to first-time awardees.

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 receive a second or duplicate travel stipend from the Foundation or its affiliate, the AAO.

Applicants will be notified of the committee’s decision prior to the Academy annual meeting. Recipients are required to attend the AAOF Celebration Luncheon on Saturday, October 14, 2017 from 11 AM to 1:30 PM where they will receive their check.

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

Past Recipients

Yuyeng Lor
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

Kirsten Carter
University of Waterloo, School of Optometry and Vision Science

The Student Travel Fellowship application window is now open through July 31, 2019.

Apply Now

Morris Kirschen
Morris Kirschen, OD, FAAO

Additional Student Travel Fellowship (STF) Opportunities through the American Academy of Optometry Foundation (AAOF)

Click here for a full list of available travel grants. 

Student Giving Matching Travel Grant

The AAOF also offers Student Giving Matching Travel Grants to attend the Academy’s annual meeting. Students are challenged to raise, through gifts by fellow students, $750. The AAOF would then match that amount so the AAO student chapter would be able to award two travel fellowships to the next Academy annual meeting. These STF awardees are selected by their institution, not through the Academy STF application system.

Learn More…