CET author Q+A

“I achieved my dream of becoming a lecturer in optometry in the UK”

Dr Nery Garcia-Porta on supportive colleagues at ARU, the impact of lockdown, and relaxing with her cat

cat and laptop

Tell us about your role…

I split my time between teaching and research at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU). I am lucky because teaching about contact lenses is my professional passion. I have been module leader in different contact lens modules for three courses (BOptom, PGCert CLO, FdSc Ophthalmic dispensing). I am also collaborating with researchers from different institutions on several projects.

What are you most proud of?

Despite having studied optometry in Spain and completed my PhD, I managed to get a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship – a very competitive European grant with a success rate of around 10%. Also, I achieved my dream of becoming a lecturer in optometry in the UK, which is considered the point of reference for optometrists in Europe.

Dr Nery Garcia-Porta
Dr Nery Garcia-Porta

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would advise her to trust herself more.

What do you like most/least about your working day?

I enjoy sharing my knowledge with students and seeing how they learn and improve their clinical skills. It is also very rewarding that students appreciate the hard work behind each lecture and lab session. We have a very supportive team at ARU, and having a good working environment is very important to me.

What I like least is how hard it can be to find time and resources to run research projects and also the stress we are exposed to in academia, which is a very competitive world.

My husband works in Spain, so this year was a challenge due to the travelling restrictions

How do you manage a work/life balance?

My husband works in Spain, so this year was a challenge due to the travel restrictions. Under normal circumstances, we travelled a lot. We are both in academia so we understand the particularities of this work and support each other. In addition, we ensure we have everyday time for us (even at a distance).

What do you do to unwind?

I like being in contact with nature and exercising, so going out for long walks helps a lot. This is not an option every day, but I always reserve a moment to do something different and disconnect from work – be it watching a TV series, playing with my cat or just having a nice chat with a friend.

You have won the OT lottery. What are the first three things you would do with the £1m jackpot?

I have no idea… I would probably spoil myself a bit and buy a new house, and then I would use it to help others.

About the author

Dr Nery Garcia-Porta is an optometrist with a master’s degree in clinical optometry, who got her PhD in Vision Sciences at the University of Santiago (Spain) in 2015. Her PhD research in the field of contact lenses involved several internships at research centres including Aston University and the University of Minho in Portugal. In 2017, she moved to ARU to develop a project focused on the evaluation of the ocular surface in glaucoma patients, thanks to a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship. She is currently working as a lecturer in optometry at ARU. She completed a clinical internship in the Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago (US) and she has worked as an optometrist in Spain’s Quironsalud Hospital.