John: Hi Dr. Morrison, it has been awhile since OS.com has checked in with you! The last time you were interviewed for OptometryStudents.com was back in 2014. At that time, you were a third year at Pacific University of College of Optometry (PUCO) and were involved in things like contact lens research, the sports vision club, a master’s program, and you were a student ambassador. Now that 3 years have passed, can you tell us a little about what has changed and where you are now?
Dr. Morrison: Sure, I would love to. I finished my residency and was interested in finding the right place to do research plus teach. While looking into that, I went back to Canada to practice in Calgary. I was there for six months before the opportunity to come down to Houston presented itself. I had made connections with faculty at UHCO and it fit what I was looking for in terms of an opportunity to pursue more clinical and research endeavors. I now serve the college in a more administrative role, as the Director of the Cornea and Contact Lens Services Clinic.
John: Why did you decide on Houston?
Dr. Morrison: The University of Houston College of Optometry (UHCO) is a great university for both research and clinical education. The faculty is very strong and our program has a wide scope spanning from high level research to clinical programs. Like I mentioned previously, I came to UHCO for the opportunity to research and work with great faculty. I definitely have a lot of fun with the faculty and staff. Plus, leadership here from our Dean (Dr. Earl Smith) and other administrators is just incredible.
John: Can you tell me more about your interest in research?
Dr. Morrison: Absolutely! One of the reasons I chose UHCO was because of its research merit. I am currently doing research working on a few projects related to ocular surface topography and gas permeable lens design. These areas were initially ones that I was introduced to by mentors at the Pacific University College of Optometry, where I completed my OD degree, Masters degree, and contact lens residency.
John: Is the research you did during school and what you are doing now very similar? Are you still planning on pursuing your PhD in that area?
Dr. Morrison: While at PUCO, my focus was on contact lenses and tear reservoir exchange. Now at UHCO, I am involved in the entire ocular surface as a whole and the impact of comprehensive eye mapping on lens design for contact lenses on it. Now that I have more of an administrative role as the director of Cornea and Contact Lens Service Clinic, the pursuit of a PhD has been put on hold for now. It is still something I have interest in but we will see what the future holds. For now, I am excited about this teaching and administrative opportunity.
John: Is teaching students something that is new to you or is this something you have done in the past?
Dr. Morrison: I have been fortunate to have had very collaborative teaching environments in the past, including mentoring other graduate students and optometry students. I have a passion for education so working with students at UHCO feels very natural!
John: Do you eventually see yourself giving lectures to students more full-time?
Dr. Morrison: Yes! I have actually been doing some lecturing, as a guest lecturer in 2nd and 3rd year contact lens courses. I have also been co-instructor for an orthokeratology course.
John: You have obviously been successful in your career, academics, and in leadership. In your opinion, in what capacities do you feel have led you to that success?
Dr. Morrison: I think that success in any field comes from enjoying and being passionate about what you do and the process of evolving and elevating that the field that you love. I have thoroughly enjoyed the journey and working with people that I have really gotten along with, and I learned from good mentors. It has been a product of people and passion.
John: If you had to pick one or two priorities you felt were important to achieving your goals, what are they and why?
Dr. Morrison: Work ethic, health, and personal relationships. All three of these need to be great to achieve your goals.
1. Work Ethic – working hard at the things you enjoy doing. Having the appropriate drive to continue. Managing time to do all your tasks comes with time and remember that all three of the mentioned points allow you to perform each of these in check.
3. Collegial/Professional relationships – networking and staying connected with other people in the CCLS field.
John: You mentioned the same three priorities three years ago in our interview with you! That’s great that you have stayed true to these priorities. You are heavily involved in academia – do you have any advice for students interested in areas such as private practice, OD/MD practices, VAs etc.?
Dr. Morrison: Regardless of what mode of practice you go into, stay involved with your state and national organizations, attend conferences, share clinical case reports, and be active in your community to promote your profession.
John: If you had one final final piece of advice to current students, what would it be?
Dr. Morrison: Honor your profession. Take pride in what you do, continue to learn, and be better in the profession that you do.
John: Thank you Dr. Morrison, that was a great conversation. I’m glad you stayed true to your core values which have taken you to great new heights. The future looks bright for you and I hope we can all learn from that!
About John Raji
John is an optometry student in his fourth year at the University of Houston College of Optometry. John is heavily invested in OptometryStudents.com with various roles including: Director of Team Development, Executive Editor, and Executive Journalist. He is the Sports Vision Section liaison for the American Optometric Association and has a strong interest in Cornea and Contact Lenses. John enjoys graphic design, music and exploring the outdoors.
About Bryan Williams
Bryan is from Dallas, Texas and currently a 4th year optometry student at UHCO. He is an Executive Journalist for the OptometryStudents.com team. Bryan held the position of Vice-President for the Student Optometric Practice Management Association at UHCO and he enjoys learning about the business side of optometry. Bryan spends most of his free time watching sports, especially football and basketball.