Latest News American Academy of Optometry Foundation Announces the 2021 AAOF Jill and George Mertz Fellowship Recipient By Staff Tuesday, March 23, 2021 12:18 AM Justina Raouf Assaad, ODORLANDO—The American Academy of Optometry Foundation (AAOF) is pleased to announce Justina Raouf Assaad, OD, as the recipient of the 2021 AAOF Jill and George Mertz Fellowship. Dr. Assaad is a primary care optometry resident at the University of Houston College of Optometry. Her research goals are to establish a posterior segment imaging protocol for keratoconus (KCN) patients, according to a recent announcement. The fellowship award honors former American Academy of Optometry Foundation president George Mertz and his wife, Jill. Both passed away too soon. Jill’s estate and George’s colleagues created a substantial fund to honor their commitment to the advancement of optometry and education through innovation, education, and research. George once stated "The training of qualified educator(s)/researchers is critical to the bright future we all want for optometry. Those who choose academic careers in optometry have less than half the lifetime earning power of those who enter most of the various modes of optometric practice. "The few who sacrifice personal gain for the good of the profession in this way are deserving of our gratitude and support. While the AAOF has a distinguished record of support for post-graduate optometric education through Ezell Fellowships and other programs, there is still a need to do much more." The fellowship is designed to help transition the best and brightest clinician-optometrists with exceptional potential into a career that includes research and academic optometry. The American Academy of Optometry (AAO) inspires excellence in optometric practice by fostering research and disseminating knowledge in vision science through its journal, Optometry and Vision Science, and the continuing education presented at its annual meeting. The American Academy of Optometry Foundation (AAOF) is the 501(c)(3) philanthropic arm of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) and was founded in 1947 for the “upholding, broadening, fostering, promoting and aiding of optometric education; the profession of optometry and its practitioners.” The organization provides financial support for optometric research and vision and eye health education to improve patient clinical care. For more information, visit the website.