August 15, 2011

Ophthalmology Research Gives Sarah Sullivan ’12 Clearer Focus

Sarah Sullivan '12

From the time she arrived at Lafayette, Sarah Sullivan ’12 (West Hempstead, N.Y.) knew she was interested in the life sciences, but she was not sure which field she wanted to study.

“My friend took me into a lab in Oechsle Hall where she was conducting neuroscience research on epilepsy by studying cross-sections of mice brains. I was intrigued and extremely interested in the topic and decided to try it out,” says Sullivan.

Sullivan, who is now majoring in neuroscience and plans to minor in health and life sciences, enjoys the interdisciplinary nature of her field. “Requirements span across all science departments and there is still room for other electives. I have never felt restricted as to what I will be able to do after graduation.”

Her plan for after Lafayette is to study optometry, and she received firsthand experience performing research on the effectiveness of laser glaucoma surgery with Lawrence Jindra, recently retired chief of ophthalmology at Winthrop University Hospital in New York.

“I have greatly valued the experience of doing research and observing ophthalmology, especially because it has helped me gain a sharper focus on the career I would like to pursue,” says Sullivan. “This feels like a perfect fit for me and I’m very excited about my decision.”

As well as working in the lab, Sullivan observed Jindra’s interactions with patients and received clearance from Winthrop Hospital to be in the operating room. She observed a cataract surgery, and even scrubbed with the doctor and got to play a role in the surgery.

Her research on glaucoma was accepted into the American Society for Cataract and Refractive Surgery conference held during the spring semester in San Diego, Calif.

“Glaucoma is a very common eye disease and it’s important to understand the treatments you may receive and their impact on your eye health and, specifically to my research, their possible impact on future treatments,” she explains.

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