She completed the dual OD/MS program.

(Press Release) Four-year optometry programs can be rigorous. A combination of didactic studies and clinical work leaves little free time as students work toward their degree. However, some students make time to earn a masters in science while earning their OD degree. This dual OD/MS degree program at the New England College of Optometry allows students to take additional graduate-level courses and seminars, conduct a research project with a mentor, and complete a thesis with a thesis defense. While pursuing these dual degrees, recent NECO graduate Laura Goldberg even submitted an original research paper. For this final accomplishment, she was chosen as the 2017 Julius F. Neumueller Award in Optics recipient. The award is presented to an individual who successfully submits an original, first-authored research paper while still an OD student by the American Academy of Optometry Foundation.

“Receiving the Julius F. Neumueller Award in Optics is truly a great honor,” said Goldberg. “Publishing my thesis research has allowed me to understand how much hard work and dedication is involved in original clinical research and subsequent publication. Being part of the Master of Science program at NECO has proven to be one of my most valuable experiences and given me the opportunity to make a small contribution to new innovations in vision science.”

Goldberg’s manuscript was co-authored by her mentor, Dr. Frances Rucker, and accepted for publication by Vision Research in 2016. Goldberg worked on this research with Rucker during her studies at NECO pursuing joint OD/MS degrees.

Goldberg said: “Participating in the dual OD/MS degree program at NECO has enabled me to perform novel clinical research from the very beginning.”

She began studying the control of myopia by participating in the T35 Summer Research program and continued throughout her time at the College.

“The manuscript was the first to demonstrate how visual stimulation can enhance the myopia protective effects of atropine, a commonly used treatment for the prevention of myopia,” said Rucker. “This is an important finding, and an impressive achievement, since myopia prevalence is reaching epidemic proportions and treatments for this disease are limited.”

Goldberg expressed her appreciation, noting, “My deepest gratitude goes to my research adviser, Dr. Frances Rucker, without whose steadfast guidance and support this amazing experience would not have been possible.”

Following a year-long residency program, Goldberg is poised to join two successful private practices in Syracuse, NY, splitting her time and contributing to both.