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Eye-opening experience

York vision program 'totally reshapes' students' career planning

Student Life

By Kelly Foss

Two science students have new insight into the wide range of research areas involved in vision research.

Kathleen Prior and Adrianna Warren
Kathleen Prior and Adrianna Warren
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

In June, fourth-year students Kathleen Prior and Adrianna Warren took part in York University’s annual undergraduate summer school on vision science.

Community effort

Hosted by York’s Centre for Vision Research (CVR), the competitive entry one-week, all-expenses-paid program included faculty presentations on current research topics in vision science, as well as hands-on experience in CVR laboratories.

“It was really interesting because the labs were so interdisciplinary,” said Ms. Warren, who is majoring in cell and molecular biology with a minor in biochemistry. “It was a real community effort.”

“They all worked closely together,” added Ms. Prior, a cognitive psychology student. “There were researchers from biology, psychology, kinesiology and computer science – even philosophy!”

Kathleen Prior
Kathleen Prior
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

The program’s curriculum reflected the current research areas of the centre, including human visual perception, computer vision, machine learning, visual neuroscience, 3D film immersive environments and disorders of vision.

New areas of research

While most of the 35 student participants are from psychology programs, Ms. Warren believes other majors would benefit, too.

“There were a lot of computer science lectures, topics and labs, so, those students would certainly thrive in this program and could be introduced to new areas they might never have considered researching,” she said. “It certainly opened my eyes as a biology student.”

Adrianna Warren
Adrianna Warren
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

The program is designed for undergraduate students from around the world who are interested in pursuing a career in scientific research and who are planning to apply to graduate school in the fall, particularly those who are interested in vision science as an area of research.

“They gave a lot of advice about applying to graduate schools and getting funding for research,” said Ms. Prior. “There were also organized sessions with graduate students from York so we could ask them questions. It was really helpful as someone who is hoping to start a master’s degree next year. They also talked to us about careers in research – not just in academia, but also industry.”

Ms. Warren says the trip finally made her realize where her future lies. Before she started her undergraduate program, her plan was to go to optometry school, she says.

“But since I’ve had the opportunity to work with several vision researchers here at Memorial University, my gears have been shifting. On this trip, it hit me that I really am interested in a different direction. It’s cool that experiences like this can totally reshape what you think you want to do with your career.”

Applications for the 2020 CVS undergraduate summer school on vision science will be available in November.

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