Student Doctor of the Month

Every month the Canadian Association of Optometry Students recognizes and celebrates an outstanding Canadian student doctor of optometry for their contributions to optometry. This student exemplifies desire and commitment to further optometry as a profession. Whether through political activism, community outreach or academic research, their actions and dedication help lift optometry to a new horizons. Their character is one that inspires others to rally behind them and is committed to improving the society in which they operate.

These incredible individuals are either nominated by either a fellow colleague, community member or an academic faculty member. All nominations are due on the 15th of each month and will be reviewed by the CAOS executive board. Please submit all submissions to Eligibility requires the candidate to be a Canadian citizen studying at a recognized Canadian, American or international school of optometry.

September 2018: Joanne Qiao



Joanne Qiao is a second-year optometry student at the University of Waterloo who has set her sights on improving the way drugs are tested on eyes. Joanne began her university experience in Hamilton where she pursued a bachelors in Biochemistry at McMasters University. She then took her knowledge and expertise to the University of Waterloo School of Optometry and Vision sciences where she worked on her masters with Dr. Lyndon Jones. Joanne’s research looked at protein depositions on contact lens and how they interacted with the eye. Throughout this research, she became frustrated by the lack of effective models that could be used to look at tear film interactions with contacts. There was no model that could accurately simulate the friction, pressure and the periodic nature of a blink!

Rather than continue her masters project without a working model, Joanne teamed up with engineering and other graduate students to create a solution. They created a model called OcuBlink which simulated the blink and tear flow of an actual eye. She and her team have since improved on the design by adding humidity and temperature control, as well as introducing a more representative blink mechanism. Joanne is very excited about the future of the product with applications R&D and education. The product can hopefully replace or reduce the amount of animal testing and deliver more accurate results. The next phase of development is looking to add corneal epithelial cells to the surface of the “eye” to further simulate actual physiology and make it more useful to broader applications.

Joanne is also an active member of the UW optometry community where she acts as the External Affairs Director for the UW AOSA. In her time with the AOSA Joanne has worked with other clubs to put on events, trade shows and visited with the pre-optometry club on campus to answer questions and inspire the incoming classes. Joanne is the perfect candidate to communicate with new students because of her passion and expertise in Optometry. Joanne is also preparing to volunteer this summer, hoping to travel to Senegal and deliver eyecare to underserved populations there. Joanne is an extraordinary and motivated student who doesn’t see obstacles but rather solutions. She works tirelessly to serve other students making us proud to present her as student doctor of the month.

Past Student Doctors of the Month

August 2018: : Alexandra Fortier
July 2018: Jane Yang
June 2018: Shaminder Dhaliwal
May 2018: Rahul Joshi and Jason Chau