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Administration

Michael D. Twa,O.D., Ph.D., FAAO


Dean
713-743-9967 (Office)
mdtwa@Central.UH.EDU

Dr. Twa is a clinician scientist and Dean of the University of Houston College of Optometry since June 1, 2019. He previously served as a faculty member at the college from 2007 to 2014. From 2014 to 2019, Dr. Twa served as the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry. His undergraduate training in biology was completed at UC San Diego and his clinical doctoral training in optometry was completed at UC Berkeley. He practiced for more than 10 years in the department of ophthalmology at UC San Diego before pursuing a Ph.D. in machine learning, data sciences, and biomedical image analysis at the Ohio State University. Dr. Twa is also the Editor in Chief of Optometry and Vision Science.  

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Associate Dean for Clinical Operations

Andrew M. Archila,O.D., MBA, FAAO

Dr. Andrew M. Archila grew up in the Chicagoland area before moving to South Texas. There he obtained his Bachelor of Science and Doctorate in Optometry from the University of Houston College of Optometry. Dr. Archila went on to enjoy a 22-year Naval career attaining the rank of Captain, where he was able to use his administrative and clinical talents. While in an out service Navy program he was able to earn an MBA in Health Care Administration from the City University of New York while concurrently earned a Fellowship in Clinical Administration and Optometric Management at the State University of New York College of Optometry. Dr. Archila has held several naval leadership roles in clinical practice environments, such as Officer in Charge, Executive Officer, and Commanding Officer, which encompassed all aspects overseeing daily operations, budget, and patient care of these healthcare facilities. He was selected as the Navy’s Junior Optometrist of the Year in 2003 and the Armed Forces Optometric Society’s Navy Optometrist of the Year for 2014. In addition, Dr. Archila has earned several Navy service medals.  

Dr. Archila recently joined the University of Houston College of Optometry as Associate Dean for Clinical Operations and as a Clinical Professor. 

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Area of Research
Ocular Biology Visual Neuroscience
Interests

Retinal physiology, non invasive assessment of retina and anterior visual path in normal and disease

Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research

Laura J. Frishman,Ph.D., FAAO, FARVO

Dr. Frishman has been on the faculty of the College of Optometry since 1990 and  currently serves as the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research.  She received her undergraduate degree from Vassar College  and her MS and PhD in physiological psychology/neuroscience from the University of Pittsburgh. She did postdoctoral training in visual neuroscience at Northwestern University and the University of California San Francisco where she also was a research faculty member. Dr. Frishman has taught in both the professional and graduate programs in the College of Optometry. Her research has focused on refining noninvasive electrophysiological approaches for evaluating retinal and anterior visual pathway function in normal subjects and subjects with inherited or acquired diseases that affect visual function. 

Dr. Frishman currently serves as an Associate Editor for Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, she is on the editorial board of Translational Vision Science and Technology and she is an academic editor for PloS One. Previously she served as Editor-in-chief of the Journals,  Visual Neurocience, and Documenta Ophthalmological. Dr. Frishman has served on federal grant review panels, the NIH/NEI National Advisory Eye Council, and she is a fellow of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (FARVO), American Academy of Optometry (FAAO) and a board member of the International Society for the Clinical Electrophysiology of Vision (ISCEV).? 

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Associate Dean For Professional Studies

Kimberly Lambreghts,R.N., O.D., FAAO

Dr. Lambreghts is a graduate of Pace University with an RN in Nursing and a BA in Biology. She worked as an orthopedic surgical nurse until entering optometry school. After graduating from SUNY College of Optometry in 1993, Dr. Lambreghts completed a dual residency in rehabilitative and primary care optometry at the Northport Veterans Administration Medical Center in Northport, NY. She served as staff optometrist at the Northport VAMC and an associate in private practice until coming to the UH College of Optometry in 1997. Currently she is a Clinical Associate Professor, Director of the Family Practice Service and serves as Family Practice Residency Director at the University Eye Institute. She is also a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry.

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Assistant Dean for Professional Studies

Ralph J. Herring,O.D. , M.H.A.

Dr. Ralph Herring is a native Texan and third-generation optometrist.   He was born and raised in Amarillo and came to the University of Houston to complete his undergraduate as well as Doctor of Optometry degrees.  This was followed by a Residency in Family Practice Optometry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry.  Following one year of private practice in Lubbock, Dr. Herring returned to his alma mater to join the University of Houston faculty where he has now been for over thirty years.

Dr. Herring currently serves as the Assistant Dean for Professional Studies as well as the Director of External Education and Third-Year Clinic Course master...  As Director of External Education, Dr. Herring administers the senior level clinical training program which utilizes a network of over seventy affiliated public and private clinics located locally, statewide, and across the country.

Dr. Herring is a Clinical Professor and is a clinical instructor in multiple patient services in the University Eye Institute.  He has also served on many college committees.

Dr. Herring became a Diplomate of the American Board of Optometry in 2014. He completed a Master of Healthcare Administration degree from Texas Woman’s University in 2001.  Professional memberships include the American Optometric Association, the Texas Optometric Association and Beta Sigma Kappa.

Dr. Herring continues his family’s strong commitment to volunteer service.  He has been a Special Olympics volunteer for nearly 25 years and is now a Regional Clinical Advisor for the Special Olympics Lions Club International Opening Eyes program.  Dr. Herring also serves on the Board of Directors of Special Olympics Texas.  He has been a member of Lions Club International since 1983, and he currently serves on the Endowment Board of the Montrose Center

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Assistant Dean for Clinical Education

Danica Marrelli,O.D., FAAO

Danica Marrelli received her Doctor of Optometry degree from the University of Houston College of Optometry (UHCO), and completed a residency in hospital-based optometry at the Baltimore VA Medical Center in Baltimore, MD.  She is a Clinical Professor at UHCO, where she serves as Assistant Dean of Clinical Education and Service Director of the Ocular Diagnostic/Medical Eye Service.  In the classroom, Dr. Marrelli teaches in the ocular pharmacology, glaucoma and case-based learning courses. Dr. Marrelli became a diplomate in the ocular disease (glaucoma) section of the American Academy of Optometry in November 2009. She is the vice president of the Optometric Glaucoma Society. She serves on the Education and Communication Committee of the Glaucoma Research Foundation. 

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Area of Research
Clinical Translational Research Biomedical Optics
Interests

myopia, contact lenses, and aberrations of the eye, clinical research

Department Chair, Clinical Sciences

David A. Berntsen,O.D., Ph.D., FAAO

David A. Berntsen, OD PhD is an Associate Professor and the Golden-Golden Professor of Optometry at the University of Houston College of Optometry where he teaches in the graduate and professional programs. He is the Chair of the Department of Clinical Sciences and conducts research on myopia, contact lenses, visual performance, and aberrations of the eye. He completed his Doctor of Optometry degree at the University of Houston and a Cornea and Contact Lens Advanced Practice Fellowship, MS, and PhD at The Ohio State University. He conducted the Study of Theories about Myopia Progression (STAMP), a two-year clinical trial evaluating theories of juvenile-onset myopia progression, and is the Principal Investigator of the University of Houston clinical site for the Bifocal Lenses In Nearsighted Kids (BLINK) Study and the BLINK2 Study, a multicenter study sponsored by the National Eye Institute evaluating contact lenses for myopia control. Dr. Berntsen serves on the American Academy of Optometry’s Scientific Program Committee. 

vdas Das 8 Department-Chairs Faculty UHCO-ALL UHCO-Faculty-Staff Visual-Neuroscience Administration Research Vision-Science
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Area of Research
Visual Neuroscience
Interests

neural mechanisms that are affected in the different forms of strabismus; information processing in neural oculomotor circuits

Department Chair, Vision Science

Vallabh Das,Ph.D.

I received my undergraduate degree from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, India in 1992 majoring in Electronics Engineering. I then moved to the United States for graduate studies and completed a M.S and Ph.D. degree in 1998 in Biomedical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio. My work, carried out under the mentorship of Dr. John Leigh, primarily examined the interactions between visual-oculomotor and vestibular systems. I did post-doctoral work at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University with Dr. Michael Mustari from 1999 to 2002. During this time I learnt the technique of single cell extracellular recording in the awake-behaving monkey and also became interested in examining visual-oculomotor mechanisms in the strabismic primate. I was appointed to the faculty at Emory University in 2002 and received an independent investigator award from the National Institutes of Health in 2004 to study neural circuits mediating binocular coordination of eye movements in the strabismic monkey. I have since maintained continued NIH funding. I joined the faculty of the College of Optometry, University of Houston in 2009. The goal of research in my laboratory is to continue to uncover the disruption of neural processing in various brain areas in the strabismic monkeys. A better understanding of neural mechanisms that are affected in the different forms of strabismus will help develop rationally based therapy.

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Executive Director of Business Operations

LaSaundra Cotright

LaSaundra joined the College of Optometry in July 2021. Through 20+ years at the University of Houston, she has served in several business management roles, including Executive Director of Business Operations in the College of Pharmacy, College Business Administrator in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and Department Business Administrator in the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Mathematics.

LaSaundra obtained a Bachelor degree from Loyola University New Orleans and MBA in Strategic Management from the University of Houston-Victoria. She is the recipient of the 2013 C.F. McElhinney Distinguished Service Award, UH’s highest staff honor, and received the 2011 Staff Excellence Award for Effective Leader. In 2017, she completed the three-year College Business Management Institute (CBMI) program at the University of Kentucky and sponsored by the Southern Association of College and University Business Officers (SACUBO).

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Director of Residency Programs

Beth Harper,O.D.

Dr. Harper is a Clinical Associate Professor with interests in ocular disease, pediatric eye care, and in improving the educational process for future optometrists. She is a native of upstate New York and moved to Texas in 2017. She completed her undergraduate degree in Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester in western New York. Dr. Harper received her O.D. degree from the State University of New York, College of Optometry (SUNY) in 2007, and completed a Residency in Ocular Disease and Primary Care with the Veterans Administration’s Boston Healthcare System the following year. She spent six years as a clinical educator and administrator at the New England College of Optometry, and also held leadership roles in the Massachusetts Society of Optometrists. For her work in membership and advocacy for the profession, she was awarded the Massachusetts Society of Optometrists’ Young Optometrist of the Year Award in 2012. Currently, Dr. Harper is a member of the Texas Optometric Association and the American Optometric Association. She joined the faculty at UHCO in 2018, serving first as adjunct faculty and joining full-time in 2020. Dr. Harper serves as UHCO’s Director of Residency Programs and is the Director of the Family Practice Service. 

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Executive Director of Professional Relations

Amanda Johnson

Amanda joined the College of Optometry in October 2013 and currently serves as the Executive Director of Professional Relations. Within this role, Amanda oversees various college initiatives, programs, and services including continuing education, alumni relations, industry relations, fundraising, community engagement, communications, and marketing strategies.

Before joining UHCO, Amanda graduated from the University of Houston Clear Lake with a Bachelor of Arts in Literature while working with the Cooperative for After-School Enrichment at the Harris County Department of Education. She managed a countywide after school website and database and monitored local and federal grant compliance for after school programs through the Greater Houston Area. She has served on non-profit boards while also managing websites, organizing events, and seeking grants for volunteer organizations.

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Director of College IT Support

Darrin Nguyen

Darrin serves as the Director of IT for the College of Optometry. Prior to UHCO, he worked for Texaco, PricewaterhouseCoopers, HP, IBM, Continental Airlines, and Synagro Technologies. His roles and responsibilities ranged from providing end-user support to managing network infrastructure. Darrin has also traveled to Europe and Latin America countries to design and implement network infrastructures for those regions.

Darrin graduated from the University of Houston with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering.  Darrin holds certifications in Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) and Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA).

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Director of Student Services

Lyle Tate

Lyle has been with the College of Optometry since February 2013 and is currently Director of Student Services. Lyle completed a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1999 and a Master of Science in Counselor Education/Student Affairs in Higher Education in 2011, both at Mississippi State University.

Outside of UHCO, Lyle has been active in community theatre for the past 23 years, volunteering locally with Baytown Little Theater and Theatre Network of Texas and nationally with the Southeastern Theatre Conference and the American Association of Community Theatres.