University of Bradford 03082023

Optics visionary awarded Honorary Doctorate by University of Bradford

Professor Shahina Pardhan, a true trail-blazer in the field of optometry, has been awarded an honorary Doctorate of Health from the University of Bradford, adding to the list of accolades received throughout her career – which includes being appointed as the first female professor of optometry in 2001. 


She has won numerous awards for her research in the field, been named an Asian Woman of Achievement and was listed in the world’s top 2% of scientists by the prestigious US Ivy League institution, Stanford University. 


Her work is practical as well as research-based – in 2001, Shahina led a group of optometrists to remote parts of North Pakistan, where a simple case of untreated short-sightedness can mean the ability to earn an income is severely limited. Her team saw up to 60 patients a day and worked into the night to make up the life-changing glasses, as well as providing training to locals to continue the work. It’s this work that Shahina feels has been the highlight of her career.


She said: “I am where I am today because of the strong foundation I received from the University of Bradford nearly 40 years ago, not just in training me to be an optometrist, but also in preparing me for the challenges of life.


“It feels so special to be receiving this honour from my alma mater, especially as one of my PhD supervisors, William Douthwaite, from my time at the University of Bradford, was able to be here.”


Professor Douthwaite has been with Shahina from the very beginning of her optometry career and remembers the day she interviewed for her undergraduate degree. He said: “She was very quiet, a bit shy but she did strike me as being exceptional, even then, and boy, has she been a pioneer.”


Dr Pardhan, whose husband and brother are both also Bradford-qualified optometrists, is currently the director of the Vision and Eye Research Institute at Anglia Ruskin University.