Summer Program in Medical College of Wisconsin
Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.
As a second year Optometry and Vision Sciences undergraduate student at Cardiff, I had the unique opportunity to participate in the Summer Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR) at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) over the summer of 2011. During my time in Milwaukee, I was working in the laboratory of Joseph Carroll PhD, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at the Eye Institute. There I was entrusted with a project regarding retinal imaging, using cutting edge technologies such as Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) and Adaptive Optics Scanning Ophthalmoscopy (AOSO), which non-invasively images individual photoreceptors in vivo.
I was particularly enthusiastic about working in the Carroll Lab as its field of research is closely linked to my own professional interest - the visual system. The lab is actively engaged in clinical research that comprises imaging patients’ eyes, processing the data obtained and then performing further analysis of these data. A variety of Adaptive Optics systems, along with conventional imaging techniques, are used to follow the treatment of degenerative retinal diseases, such as retinitis pigmentosa, and to promote the early detection of these diseases before significant damage occurs at the photoreceptor level. I had the exciting opportunity to examine a wide range of eye conditions in the clinics as well as in the Carroll Lab, including: ocular albinism, AMD, blue cone monochromacy, glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, diabetic retinopathies, Stargardts disease, central serous retinopathy, and many other pathologies.
I was very fortunate to have the chance to work with such a fantastic team of research scientists while also having the opportunity to shadow for two half days a week two US Optometrists in the course of their practice, both in general optometry and low vision clinics. Looking back, my participation in the SPUR program at MCW gave me a unique exposure to the world of research, while the valuable clinical internship experience allowed me to learn a great deal about US optometric practice. This first hand knowledge will play an important role in my career choice for the future. I would definitely recommend SPUR at MCW to all undergraduate students interested in learning more about scientific research.
Apart from the clinical and laboratory experience, I made many new and valuable friends and had the chance to experience life in the US and its culture, which was interesting to say the least!. I visited various places around the Mid-West of the United States and attended various festivals. I would like to gratefully acknowledge the support and the organisation I received from Cardiff University and especially thank Dr Paul Murphy and Dr Jonathan Erichsen, who were extremely helpful at every stage of the application process. I shall conclude by saying that this dreamed-of experience was certainly one of the best times of my life.