Karla Zadnik Becomes the Fifth Dean of The Ohio State University College of Optometry

Karla Zadnik, OD PhD and the Glenn A. Fry Professor in Optometry and Physiological Optics became The Ohio State University College of Optometry’s first female dean on June 1, 2014. Dr. Zadnik received her academic degrees from the University of California, Berkeley School of Optometry. Her education and early professional experiences were “all UC—all the time,” with undergraduate education at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and 14 years as a faculty member at the University of California, Davis, in the Department of Ophthalmology.

The National Institutes of Health/National Eye Institute has invested heavily in Dr. Zadnik, first as a trainee during graduate school and then as a principal investigator and study chairman on two large multicenter cohort studies, the Collaborative Longitudinal Evaluation of Keratoconus (CLEK) Study and the Collaborative Longitudinal Evaluation of Ethnicity and Refractive Error (CLEERE) Study. These two studies launched and developed many of her collaborators’ careers. She served on the National Eye Institute’s National Advisory Eye Council from 2000 to 2004.

Dr. Zadnik has served the profession of optometry well. She is the immediate past president of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO), having served a decade as its Research Committee chair in the 1990s. She is a diplomate and past chairman of the Academy’s Section on Cornea, Contact Lenses and Refractive Technology (CCLRT). She has chaired the American Optometric Association’s (AOA) Council on Research since 2000 and has overseen the AOA/AAO-sponsored Summer Invitational Research Institute for many years, mentoring countless young faculty members from around the country over lobster served in her backyard.

Her many honors and recognitions include the American Optometric Foundation’s Glenn A. Fry Award, the Warren G. and Ruth P. Morris Optometrist of the Year Award from the Ohio Optometric Association, the CCLRT’s Max Schapero Memorial Lecturer Award, the AOA’s Contact Lens and Cornea Section’s Donald R. Korb Award for Excellence, an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from the Illinois College of Optometry, and the Alumnus of the Year Award and the Merton C. Flom Teaching Award, both from the University of California, Berkeley School of Optometry. In 2010, The Ohio State University selected her as a Distinguished Scholar, the first faculty member from the College of Optometry to receive that award.

Dr. Zadnik notes that her own career “has been highlighted by a series of mentors that include Dr. Mark Mannis, now chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science at UC Davis; the late Dr. Mert Flom; Dr. Israel Goldberg of Health Research Associates; Dr. Tony Adams, dean emeritus of the UC Berkeley School of Optometry, past AAO president and editor of Optometry and Vision Science; and retiring Ohio State College of Optometry Dean Mel Shipp.”

Building on their legacies and their guidance of her, this “native daughter” of Ohio and granddaughter of Stow, Ohio optometrist, William J. Henry, is excited about the opportunity to lead Ohio State Optometry into its second 100 years.