Thinking outside the box helped David Troilo ’80 create an interdisciplinary major that combined his interest in psychology with animal behavior and neuroscience. The freedom Oswego gave him to create his own course of study allowed him to go on to graduate study and a successful career in developmental visual neuroscience.
He hopes to return the favor. On a recent visit to campus, Troilo expressed the desire to work with SUNY Oswego and current students with an interest in healthcare careers to revitalize a “pre-health” course of study that would lead to a degree in optometry.
Now the vice president and dean of academic affairs at SUNY College of Optometry, Troilo returned to his alma mater to give a Science Today lecture in September on the experimental control of eye growth. It was fitting, because as an undergraduate, he had made a connection at a similar type of guest lecture that helped propel his career in academe.
Oswego professors also helped pave the way for his lifelong interest in research, among them Leland Marsh and Peter Weber of biology. Marsh taught the young Troilo that the essence of research is creating new knowledge, while working alongside Weber in the lab gave Troilo the hands-on experience that helped him grow.
Troilo’s love of neuroscience was cemented during his years at Oswego. “It stems from the work I did here,” he says. Two post-doctoral studies — at Oxford and Cornell universities — would help his scholarship mature.
He has become one of the premier researchers in the country on the development of the eye from birth to maturity and the development of refractive state. His work can help the tens of millions of patients with refractive errors like myopia.
Now he has come full circle, with a key academic position at a SUNY school. His goal is to make SUNY Optometry one of the top research institutions in optometry in the world.
He also sees a big potential at Oswego for cross-disciplinary studies. “Smaller schools like Oswego can do that more easily,”
he says. “Take the strengths of different departments and combine them in creative ways.”
— Michele Reed
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