Professor Fiona Stapleton’s 12-year position as Head of the UNSW School of Optometry and Vision Science has been celebrated with recognition of her various achievements within the profession.
Attended by colleagues, students, industry professionals, and stakeholders, the occasion paid tribute to Prof Stapleton’s ongoing commitment and dedication to her work, and included the unveiling of her portrait.
Professor Simon Killcross, Head of the School of Psychology and Deputy Dean, Faculty of Science, spoke of Prof Stapleton’s achievements as Head of School and beyond.
He said that as a leading expert in Australia in the fields of dry eye, corneal infection and contact lens research, Prof Stapleton has been invaluable to the success of the UNSW School of Optometry and Vision Science on a global scale. During her tenure the School has come to be ranked in the top five internationally for research and “Prof Stapleton herself is a leading contact lens expert in the world based on her research output,” he said.
From one head of school to another, Prof Killcross also acknowledged the achievements made by Prof Stapleton to benefit the School of Optometry and Vision Science as being “absolutely phenomenal” and “incredibly immense” when considering their difficulty.
“During her time she has undertaken a whole host of initiatives to try and ensure that her school achieved what it has achieved today. She has introduced a range of new programs which have generated income, while also servicing the profession and the industry,” he said.
Throughout her time as Head of School, Prof Stapleton has doubled the amount of students in the School of Optometry and Vision Science, and has personally supervised a total of 36 PhD students. She has also been instrumental in changing the environment of the School to bring clinical resources up to scratch with new technological advancements.
Professor Stapleton reflected on her time as Head of School saying, “the success of the school during that time is about our ability to work so collaboratively as a team and I’ve been so fortunate to have such a great support from all the stakeholders.”
She acknowledged the significance of working with the Optometry Association, the Department of Health and with the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO), and the various ventures that sprung from collaborations such as that between Guide Dogs Australia and UNSW in 2008, which delivered the ocular imaging center, now the Centre For Eye Health.
Prof Stapleton also mentioned the University’s continued research success saying, “we’re really thrilled by our position based on our research papers and citation metrics,” which recognise both the number of papers produced and their high quality. “Everyone here has been a part of that journey and I thank you for your support, your encouragement, your time and your friendship,” said Professor Stapleton.
As a friend, colleague, and former PhD student of Prof Stapleton’s, Professor Lisa Keay acknowledged the large footsteps she has to fill as the new Head of School. Professor Stapleton is “very generous with her time. She’s loyal and she’s committed to the school, to the profession and to the university,” she said.