This is a guest post by Ruanne Vent-Schmidt
My name is Ruanne Vent-Schmidt and I am a PhD candidate in Dr. Orson Moritz’s lab. The Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB) is funding Dr. Moritz’s research group and in part, supports my PhD project on drug therapies for retinitis pigmentosa (You can learn more about the project by clicking here and here). What sets me apart from other vision researchers is that I am living with retinitis pigmentosa (RP), and I am going blind. As I reach the end of my PhD, I am so thrilled to have been selected for the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) Science Communication Training Fellowship. What does me being selected mean for the vision loss community and the researchers?
At the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), 11,500 vision researchers and ophthalmologists from around the world come together to share, learn and celebrate the latest discoveries in vision research. This year, the meeting will take place from April 28th to May 2nd, 2019 and it coincides with the FFB’s Vision Quest educational conference in Vancouver where I will also be speaking, on April 27th, 2019. You can register to attend Vision Quest here.
The ARVO Science Communication Training Fellowship is a one-year educational program and it will kick off at ARVO’s annual meeting in Vancouver. It will be a chance for me to network with other leaders in vision research and ophthalmology from around the world and for me to become a better science communicator for Canada.
Winning the ARVO Science Communications Training Fellowship wouldn’t have been possible without the FFB’s support. I am so grateful to the FFB and FFB’s donors for providing me with opportunities to engage with the vision loss community as a researcher. Throughout my graduate degree, I had the pleasure of connecting with the FFB community at Vision Quest conferences, not only as a vision researcher but as a vision researcher living with vision loss. During my presentations and one-on-one interactions, I felt a strong sense of connection between the research leaders and the vision loss community. I was approached by blind and partially-sighted individuals, family members and friends, and researchers who commended my bravery. I wasn’t being brave—I was just doing what made sense. It was then that I understood the power of engaging with the community by sharing my personal experiences. As an ARVO Science Communication Training Fellow, I will be keeping an eye out for more opportunities to talk about science to the public.
I hope to see you all at the Vancouver Conference on Age-Related Vision Loss and Inherited Retinal Diseases on April 27th, 2019!
Ruanne is a Science Communication Training Fellow of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO). Ruanne’s FFB-funded research project won Best Poster Award at the 2014 International Symposium on Retinal Degeneration in Pacific Grove, California. In 2013, Ruanne won the Best Oral Presentation for her research at Research Day in the Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences at UBC in Vancouver, BC. She is also engaged with the vision loss community at the CNIB as a Program Coordinator for Advocacy and Peer Support. On March 27th, 2019, Ruanne will speak at the FFB Vancouver Conference on Age-Related Vision Loss and Inherited Retinal Diseases.