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Welcome to the May issue of our newsletter for 2020.

Let me start by welcoming new staff members who have joined SOVS since the last newsletter was published. First, I am delighted to announce that Jacqui Ramke is now on the ground to take up her role as the Buchanan Charitable Foundation Associate Professor in Public Eye Health. Jacqui is an optometrist by training who has carved out a niche as a world authority in equity and eye health, an area of research of critical importance within Aotearoa New Zealand. Welcome Jacqui! It’s also a pleasure to welcome Selassie Tagoh who hails from Ghana, has a background in optometry and joined my group as a new PhD student on 16 March. A warm welcome to Samira Hasanzadeh who will be providing services in the Dry Eye clinic and conducting research with Ehsan Vaghefi.  A warm welcome also to Liam Murphy who has joined Ehsan’s Toku Eyes research group, and to Hana Namik who has arrived as our new PTF providing cover for Zaria Bradley and Michelle O’Hanlon who are on parental leave.

Anyone who follows what’s going on in the school will be aware that we were set to host the 16th Scientific Educators and 10th Educators Meeting in Optometry (SEMO) in April. This meeting was to bring together researchers and educators in optometry from across Australasia. Regrettably, but unavoidably, the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to cancel SEMO 2020 in the middle of March. A huge amount of work goes into making meetings like SEMO happen: from our potential attendees preparing their work for presentation, to our own staff developing workshops, to the professional staff arranging the venue/ website/scheduling/registration and so on. As well as thanking our sponsors from the profession, I’d like to single out for special thanks: John Phillips (who reviewed and reformatted all the submission abstracts), Monica Acosta (for securing funding to support the event), Ke-Han Chen (Event Services) and Naomi Twigden (for activities too numerous to list).

Having dropped to Alert Level 3 earlier this week, SOVS staff are now busy preparing for what hopefully comes next: a further reduction to Level 2.  As always, their priority is effective delivery of the programme while maintaining student and staff safety. This, as you will be aware, is particularly challenging when it comes to clinical experiential components of the BOptom programme. The hard work, creativity and resilience of SOVS staff I have seen over the last few weeks gives me confidence we can achieve this goal together.

Ngā mihi

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

Steven Dakin