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Tēnā koutou katoa

Welcome to the December issue of our newsletter, the last of 2019.

This issue we welcome Ashley Gray, our new Professional Teaching Fellow, and our new Clinics Manager Christina Campbell, who is joining us from North Shore Urology where she was Practice Manager. In the New Year we’ll also be welcoming Marvin Wu as our Research Programme Coordinator, joining us from the Faculty of Arts. Welcome also to David Han who has joined Eshan Vaghefi’s team coming to us from Fisher and Paykel Health Care where he was a product development engineer.

I’m delighted to announce that Dr Joanna Black has agreed to be the school’s first Deputy Head. I’m really pleased to have Jo coming on board into this role in January of next year, and am anticipating some exciting new insights from her.

I’m also delighted to announce promotions have been granted to two of our lecturers and three of our Professional Teaching Fellows (PTF). Congratulations to Dr Ehsan Vaghefi (Senior Lecturer level 6), Dr Phil Turnbull (Senior Lecturer level 1), Jason Dhana (PTF level 3), Jaymie Rogers (PTF level 3) and Dr Marcy Tong (PTF level 3).

Finally sadly, Elviera Cowan will be leaving us after the Christmas break to take up a position as Group Services Coordinator with the Business School. Elviera has been with us for a year and she has done a fabulous job. We wish her the very best in her new position.

Since our last newsletter many of us have been involved in Graduation. The event itself was a wonderful celebration of our 51 graduating students’ success. An inspiring talk about achieving your goals, never giving up and seeking out opportunities, was given by Safaato’a Fereti who is the Clinical Nurse Director at Counties Manukau.  We wish the newly minted optometrists the very best in their future endeavours. More details about this are in the main article which follows.

Over the last week I’ve been attending various events related to the 10th anniversary of the Centre for Brain Research (CBR) in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences. The CBR brings together researchers from across the university with an interest in the brain and in neurological disorders. CBR was pioneered by distinguished Professor Sir Richard Faull and during the anniversary the opportunity was taken to celebrate Richard’s achievements including a fabulous tribute by his family on the last day. The final event was a celebratory dinner at the Pullman Hotel attended by the Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy, who presented a series of prizes to the various members of the CBR including Mirelle Powell and Dr Dean Robinson (who received special recognition for their tireless work behind the scenes). Something that several of the speakers picked up on as being a hallmark of Richard’s approach is the importance of involving the community in science. Professor Papaarangi Reid pointed out that we must never lose sight of the humanity that lies behind Science. The reason we do science is for people who are living with brain disease or sight loss and if there is a secret to Richard’s success it is that he really connects with people and has never lost sight of that. We congratulate Richard and all the founding members of the CBR and wish them the best for the next 10 years.

Wishing everyone a happy Christmas and safe and refreshing holidays.

Ngā mihi

Professor Steven Dakin
Head of School, Optometry and Vision Science
Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

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