Plymouth student wins summit

September 30 2013

Established in 2011 to encourage new contact lens-related research within the UK’s optometry universities, CooperVision hosted its third annual Student Summit last month. OT reports

Seven undergraduates gathered at CooperVision’s headqarters in Southampton last month (September 16-17) to take part in the contact lens giant’s Student Summit competition. The winner was second year Plymouth University student Claire Gorman, who arose victorious to be named ‘Student of the Year 2013’ for her research project entitled ‘Stability of the pre lens tear film under environmental challenge.’

Now in its third year, the summit is born out of CooperVision’s summer research scholarship which calls on second and third year optometry students across the UK to submit an idea for a contact lens-related research project they wish to complete. From those who apply, each university selects a student to complete their research and attend the Summit to present their findings. Ms Gorman and her peer finalists all received a £2,000 bursary to perform their research project over a six to eight week period during the summer.
As the winner, in addition to the bursary, Ms Gorman also receives a full delegate package to attend the BCLA 2014. She will now go on to compete in CooperVision’s European FORCE, for the chance to win a full delegate package to attend the American Academy of Optometry Clinical Conference in Denver, Colorado.
The brainchild of CooperVision’s professional relations manager, Karl Aberdeen, he sees the Summit as the perfect opportunity for students to further their knowledge of contact lenses, and to make a contribution to the field.
Ms Gorman’s project, which marked an inaugural entry into the competition from Plymouth University, investigated how the tear film responds to environmental stress, in particular, wind. She used a wind machine and tested the performance of the tear film with five different types of contact lenses. 
The subjects were required to wear the lenses and sit in front of a wind machine for specified periods of time. Tear break-up time and redness were then assessed using the Oculus Keratograph 5M. 
Prior to completing the study, Ms Gorman had expected the tear break-up time to decrease with increased wind air draught exposure. However, the results reported an improvement in tear break-up time. The undergraduate now aims to explore these findings further and investigate how contact lens material may play a role.
Facilitating the Summit was the AOP’s head of professional development, Karen Sparrow, who helped select the winner alongside a judging panel which comprised of a lecturer representative from each university present. Judges marked the research projects against a variety of criteria including content, creativity, delivery style and overall presentation.     
Ms Sparrow told OT: “It was a pleasure to chair the judging panel for this year's CooperVision Student Summit. The students’ summer research projects were all of an incredibly high standard and a really tight group to judge.
“Having seen the quality of this year's entries and spent time with the students at the Summit, I am sure I have seen some of the optometry stars of the future.”
Speaking about winning the Summit, Ms Gorman told OT: “The Student Research Scholarship is an amazing opportunity for students, as it provides an insight into how to carry out research, and allows undergraduates to experience another mode of practice which is available to them once fully qualified. 
“Completing the summer scholarship puts me in a great position when starting my third-year, as I now have an understanding in how research is carried out ahead of final year projects. CooperVision has found a fun and exciting way to bring the universities together, and I am grateful to them for giving us all this opportunity.”
Other finalists at the Summit included: Aston University’s Adelina Beyla, Simon Vernon from Anglian Ruskin University, Halima Iqbal from the University of Bradford, City University’s Asmita Rajani, Gemma Hill from Glasgow Caledonian University and Manchester University’s Alexandru Borsciov. 
As well as presenting their research findings, during the two-day event students were given a tour af the contact lens giant’s manufacturing facilities in Hamble and enjoyed a boat tour of Portsmouth harbour, followed by dinner at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant. 
CooperVision confirmed that its search for 2014 applicants would begin shortly. Interested second and third year optometry students should contact their head of department for more information on the scheme. 
Tagged with: Events, Student

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