Dr Tina Gao

Dr Tina Gao felt like her PhD in optometry has prepared her for work as a postdoctoral research fellow and lecturer within the School of Optometry and Vision Science.

Dr Tina Gao (centre) teaches and supervises students within the School of Optometry and Vision Science.

"My journey started with studying and graduating from the Bachelor of Optometry at the University of Auckland. I worked as an optometrist for two years and then returned here to do my PhD, which involved an international randomised controlled clinical trial, called the ‘Binocular treatment of amblyopia using videogames (BRAVO)’ study. We tested a new (at the time) videogame treatment for amblyopia based on Tetris, which tried to encourage the brain to use both eyes together.

“Doing my PhD was rewarding and exciting. I was able to work with collaborators around the world on the BRAVO trial and on other projects, as well as travel a lot and meet many leaders in my field. The Universitas 21 Doctoral Mobility Scholarship allowed me to travel to Nottingham University in the UK to complete a short summer project and meet some collaborators in person. This was a great experience and I hope that other postgraduate students will make use of similar opportunities.

When I started my PhD, I was told that your supervisors are not teaching you as a student but training you as a future colleague. I didn’t understand what this meant at the time, but at the end of my PhD I could fully appreciate this, and I hope that when I take on postgraduate students of my own that I can be a good mentor to them as well.

Dr Yitian Tina Gao PhD in Optometry and Vision Science; Lecturer at the School of Optometry and Vision Science

Tina with Dr Joanna Black

“My PhD supervisors were my most important mentors, and they really helped to set me on the right path in terms of pursuing a career in academia.

“Following my PhD, I worked as a postdoctoral research fellow under Professor Steven Dakin and Dr Joanna Black on two research projects. I also held part-time and casual teaching positions at the School of Optometry and Vision Science, teaching binocular vision topics and practical clinical skills at different year levels.

“In November 2019, I was happy to start a new position as a lecturer at the School of Optometry and Vision Science and I still continue with the binocular vision-related research projects.”