College of Optometrists celebrates sector's most talented researchers at its annual Diploma Ceremony

  • 11 Nov 2015

The College has recognised the achievements of the most talented researchers working in the field at its annual Diploma Ceremony.

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The College has recognised the achievements of the most talented researchers working in the field at its annual Diploma Ceremony at the Central Hall in Westminster, London on Tuesday. Four individuals and a research team were presented with a College Research Excellence Award in recognition of their outstanding contribution to vision science, eye health care and to the profession.

Dr Hema Radhakrishnan MCOptom, received the Neil Charman Medal for Research, the most prestigious of the five awards, for her pioneering work on ocular accommodation and collagen cross linking. She said: “I was delighted to receive the Neil Charman medal for research. The Research Excellence Awards recognise the outstanding research that is done by College members. It was amazing to see so many excellent researchers from across the globe being handed these awards and Life Fellowships. On the day, when the streets around Westminster were lined with poppies, we had our own affirmation of how we are able to see much further in our profession by standing on the shoulders of giants."

Professor Carly Siu-Yin Lam MCOptom accepted the Bernard Gilmartin OPO Award on behalf of Chin-Hang Lam, Dr Sam Chi-Kwan Cheng and Dr Lily Yee-Lai Chan for their paper, ‘Prevalence of myopia among Hong Kong Chinese schoolchildren: changes over two decades’. Winners of the award are selected by the OPO editorial board for a highly regarded paper published in Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics (OPO) in the preceding five years. 

Dr Laura Sweeney MCOptom received The George Giles Postgraduate Research Prize for outstanding postgraduate research on the effect of 3D displays on binocular visual function. 

Dr Peter Campbell MCOptom received The Philip Cole Prize for excellence in practice-based research by College members for his work comparing clinical techniques for anterior chamber angle assessment, and assessing their relative merits for clinical practice. 

And Lynne Speedwell FCOptom’s exceptional contribution to practice in the prescribing of contact lenses to help treat pathological conditions in children was recognised with the Giles Van Colle Memorial Award - awarded in conjunction with the Giles Van Colle Memorial Foundation - for outstanding research or clinical case work relating to paediatric optometry. 



The ceremony also welcomed 335 newly qualified optometrists, the highest number to date, to the profession, as well as recognising outstanding achievement through the presentation of Higher Qualifications, Fellowships by Portfolio, Life Fellowships and an Honorary Fellowship. 

Professor Harminder Dua was awarded Honorary Fellowship of the College in recognition of his work in developing the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning in England as a joint initiative between the College and the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, and establishing it as an important force for change in eye care under his leadership as Chair. We also recognise his role in developing a mutually beneficial relationship between the two Colleges during his presidency of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.

In his acceptance speech, Professor Dua said: “In one’s professional career, only once in a while comes a moment like this, which makes one feel that it has all been worthwhile. Our teachers and gurus usually show appreciation in abundance. Our students and trainees are profuse in their praise, but to have yours peers to pause and acknowledge your achievements is a rare and humbling honour.

“It is a special privilege to share this experience with so many of you who will soon rejoice in your success as you receive your diplomas and become members and fellows of this prestigious institution, the College of Optometrists. While you savour this moment and bask in the glory of your success, and rightly so, you must wake up tomorrow and acknowledge the responsibility that this brings. Every generation owes its success to the help and support offered by the previous generation. Every generation owes a debt of gratitude to the previous generation, to your parents and your teachers, which you can only pay back by doing for the next generation, your children and your students what your parents and teachers did for you. Nothing gives them more pleasure and satisfaction than seeing their charges, doing well in society and doing well for society.”



Welcoming the newly qualified optometrists to the profession and to the College, David Parkins, President of the College of Optometrists, said “I would encourage our new members to listen carefully to the experiences of those being recognised for their outstanding achievements here today and use them as exemplars of how to develop a long and successful career, so that in the future you too will be able to make a significant contribution to the profession and practice of optometry.”

For more information on the Research Excellence Awards, visit  

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