Rising Star Award

Nominations are now closed.

This award is sponsored by Oculus. It recognizes a faculty member or administrator with less than seven years of service who has made noteworthy contributions to fulfilling the mission, strategic objectives or programs of ASCO. Nominees will demonstrate outstanding contributions in one of the following areas:

  • Teaching which may include classroom, laboratory instruction, or course development
  • Scholarship which may include grant writing, research, publications, presentations, or other scholarly and creative activities
  • Administration which may include general administration, planning, development, or evaluation activities
  • Professional service which may include service to ASCO through committee, group, SIG or related activities; work in the community, state, or national levels that represents or promotes ASCO or optometric education

A contribution of $1,000 will be made to the faculty member’s or administrator’s institution designated for the recipient’s faculty and/or professional development. A commemorative award will also be presented to the “Rising Star” at the ASCO Annual Leadership Luncheon.

Contact Sara Lau, Business Operations Manager, for any questions at slau@opted.org.

Award Recipients

2020

Dr. Erik Mothersbaugh

Sponsored by Oculus, the ASCO Rising Star Award is given to an outstanding faculty member or administrator with less than seven years of service who has made noteworthy contributions to fulfilling the mission, strategic objections, or programs of ASCO. This year’s Rising Star awardee is Erik Mothersbaugh, OD, MPH.

Dr. Erik Mothersbaugh serves as the Dean of Student Affairs at Illinois College of Optometry, where he is primarily focused on the areas of Recruiting, Admissions, and Student Services. He is an alum of ICO, who after completing his Doctor of Optometry degree in 2012 stayed to complete a Residency in Primary Care and Ocular Disease. He then served full-time on ICO’s faculty before joining the President’s Administrative Cabinet in 2018. During his time as a faculty member he taught courses in Visual Optics and Ethics in addition to patient care responsibilities in the Primary Care and Urgent Care services of the Illinois Eye Institute.

“It is an honor to be recognized by ASCO for this award,” says Dr. Mothersbaugh. “Among this group I have no shortage of mentorship. I am incredibly grateful to be part of an organization so dedicated to high quality education and the future of the profession of Optometry. Thank you!”

Dr. Erik Mothersbaugh thank you video. A special message from Oculus, sponsor of the the Rising Star Award.

2019

Dr. Diane Russo

Sponsored by Oculus, the ASCO Rising Star Award is given to an outstanding faculty member or administrator with less than seven years of service. This year’s Rising Star awardee is Diane Russo, OD, MPH.

Dr. Diane Russo is an Associate Professor in the Department of Primary Care at New England College of Optometry where she is Instructor of Record for the public health course sequence. She is also an Attending Optometrist at the Codman Square Health Center in Boston where she precepts second, third, and fourth year students.

Dr. Russo received her OD from SUNY College of Optometry, her MPH from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, and received residency training at the West Haven VAMC. She is Chair-Elect for ASCO’s Public Health Educators Special Interest Group (SIG) and is an active member of the AOA and Massachusetts Society of Optometrists, serving on the Health Promotions Committee and Legislative Action Committee, respectively.

“I am incredibly honored to be nominated and chosen for this award,” says Dr. Russo. “It has been an amazing privilege to be able to care for patients, while also contributing to the profession by educating future Doctors of Optometry.”

Special Recognition Video.

2018

Dr. Andrew D. Pucker

Sponsored by Oculus, the ASCO Rising Star Award is given to an outstanding faculty member or administrator with less than seven years of service. Dr. Andrew D. Pucker is recognized for his outstanding contributions to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Optometry, through teaching, scholarship, administration and professional service and most notably in contributions to ASCO’s Biomedical Educators Special Interest Group.

“It’s an honor to be nominated by UAB and to be selected by ASCO to receive the 2018 Rising Star Award,” says Dr. Pucker. “Life as a translational scientist and educator is rewarding, though not always easy, and awards like this one are an inspiration to keep pursing my passion.” 

Special Recognition Video.

2017

Dr. Catherine McDaniel

Generously sponsored by Oculus, the ASCO Rising Star Award is given to an outstanding faculty member or administrator with less than seven years of service who has made noteworthy contributions to fulfilling the mission, strategic objections, or programs of ASCO. Dr. Catherine McDaniel, associate professor of clinical optometry at The Ohio State University, is recognized for her outstanding contributions through teaching, scholarship, administration and professional service.

2016

Dr. Nicole Ross

A 2016 Rising Star Award is given to Dr. Nicole Ross, Assistant Professor of Optometry at the New England College of Optometry (NECO).

Generously sponsored by Oculus, the ASCO Rising Star Award is given to an outstanding faculty member or administrator with less than seven years of service who has made noteworthy contributions to fulfilling the mission, strategic objectives or programs of ASCO.

Dr. Ross is recognized for her outstanding contributions to NECO through teaching, scholarship, administration and professional service and most noticeably in contributions to ASCO’s Low Vision Special Interest Group.

“It is both a pleasure and an honor to be involved in the care of patients with visual impairment and educating future colleagues who will continue to grow and move this field forward,” says Dr. Ross.

Dr. Nathan Lighthizer

Northeastern State University, Oklahoma College of Optometry’s (NSUOCO) Director of Continuing Education, Dr. Nathan Lighthizer, is named a Rising Star.

Generously sponsored by Oculus, the ASCO Rising Star Award is given to an outstanding faculty member or administrator with less than seven years of service who has made noteworthy contributions to fulfilling the mission, strategic objectives or programs of ASCO.

Dr. Lighthizer is recognized for his outstanding contributions to NSUOCO through teaching, scholarship, administration and professional service and most noticeably in contributions to ASCO’s Clinical Directors/Administrators Special Interest Group.

“I am extremely honored to have been selected for this award,” says Dr. Lighthizer. “It was a true shock and I would like to thank ASCO for this wonderful honor and for all they do for the schools and colleges of optometry. I also want to thank Dean Doug Penisten and Associate Dean Kippi Wyatt for their leadership and mentorship over the past few years.”

2015

Dr. Todd Peabody

Sponsored by Oculus, the ASCO Rising Star Award is given to an outstanding faculty member or administrator with less than 10 years of service. Dr. Todd Peabody was recognized for his outstanding contributions to the Indiana University, School of Optometry, through teaching, scholarship, administration and professional service particularly in the areas of international optometric education and technology and most notably in contributions to ASCO’s Education Technology SIG.

“I am honored and humbled to receive this recognition. I consider myself privileged to have the opportunity to have the mentorship of outstanding colleagues and the dedication of committed students,” says Dr. Peabody. “I share this commendation with the entire faculty, staff and student body at Indiana University School of Optometry. Thank you to the ASCO Board of Directors and Executive Committee for this special award.”

2014

Dr. Yi Pang

In 2014, the inaugural Rising Star Awardee was Dr. Yi Pang, Assistant Dean for Research and Associate Professor at the Illinois College of Optometry