Excellence in Medical Student Education Award

Providing national recognition for an outstanding medical student educator.

The Excellence in Medical Student Education Award will provide national recognition for an outstanding medical student educator on an annual basis. It is established through funding from the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology (AUPO) and the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). The award will be presented annually at the AUPO Annual Meeting and includes a cash prize.

The nomination period for 2020 is now closed.

2019 Excellence in Medical Student Education Award Recipient

JoAnn Giaconi, MD
JoAnn Giaconi, MD
University of California, Los Angeles
Stein Eye Institute

Dr. JoAnn Giaconi is a Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is a glaucoma specialist practicing both at the Stein Eye Institute and the Veterans Administration of Greater Los Angeles, where she oversees ophthalmology at four different clinical locations. She has served as Co-Director of Medical Student Education for the Department of Ophthalmology and the Stein Eye Institute since 2011. In this role, she is involved in all aspects of student education and mentorship, from creating a general med student curriculum in ophthalmology (then renovating it, and then redesigning it yet again, and constantly tweaking it to make students happy), to shaping course objectives for more senior medical students’ electives, working with individual students on rotations and research, and guiding students through the ophthalmology match process. She is an active member in the David Geffen School of Medicine’s many activities for students interested in surgical specialties, and currently serves on a committee to shape a bold new curriculum for the school. She is extremely happy to have former students return as residents in ophthalmology and fellows in glaucoma, however, she is even more thrilled that students who have pursued internal medicine and family practice seek out ophthalmology to teach at rounds in those specialties.

Dr. Giaconi is serving her last year on the AUPO Medical Student Educators Council as immediate past president. She is proud of her work and that of her fellow Council members on numerous Council projects and initiatives, such as the publication of new objectives for what every graduating medical student should know, the development of a future toolbox for MSEs on the AUPO website, the initiation of med ed literature reviews to stimulate ideas for education research, the AAO/AUPO med student website, and the Minority Ophthalmology Mentoring program.

Past Recipients


Daniel Knoch, MD
Daniel Knoch, MD
University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine


Evan Waxman, MD, PhD
Evan "Jake" Waxman, MD, PhD
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine


Rukhsana Mirza, MD
Rukhsana Mirza, MD
Northwestern University
Feinberg School of Medicine


Susan Forster, MD  Yale University School of Medicine
Susan Forster, MD
Yale University School of Medicine


Linda Lippa, MD
Linda Lippa, MD
University of California, Irvine
Gavin Herbert Eye Institute

Award information


Nominees for the Excellence in Medical Student Education Award must fulfill the following criteria:

  • Be a Member of AUPO and a Member or Fellow of the AAO
  • Have served as a Medical Student Educator at an ACGME, LCME, or RCPSC-accredited AUPO member program for a minimum of two years
  • Currently serve as the Medical Student Educator
  • Embody the qualities of:
    • commitment to medical student education
    • dedication to the medical student education training process
    • active engagement in medical student education program leadership
    • innovation in and/or advancement of medical student education in Ophthalmology at the Regional, National or AUPO level
    • a consummate teacher/mentor/advisor

Special consideration in the selection process will be given to:

  • current activities, not simply to length of service or to contributions made many years previously
  • nominees who have published in peer-reviewed literature on subjects related to medical student education
  • innovative work
  • those who have achieved a leadership role in medical education
  • achievement in mentoring other educators/future educators


Candidates must be nominated by their Department Chair

The Application Packet must include the following items (10 pt. font or greater)

  • A letter (not to exceed three pages) from the Chair summarizing the Nominee’s special qualifications for the Award and verifying that, if awarded
    • the Awardee will attend the AUPO Annual Meeting to receive the award
    • the cash prize will be awarded directly to the Awardee and not counted against normal compensation or deposited in department accounts
  • Two supporting letters (each not to exceed two pages) from faculty, current medical students, or past medical students who trained under the Nominee
  • A copy of the Nominee’s current Curriculum Vitae
  • A signed letter from the Nominee (not to exceed two pages) summarizing the Nominee’s accomplishments as Medical Student Educator and plans for future activities. The Nominee must also agree in the letter to provide a presentation at the Annual Meetings of AUPO on a topic related to medical student education training if chosen as the Awardee.
  • The application packet must be compiled by the Department Chair and submitted electronically by April 15.

Selection Process

All completed applications will be reviewed by a Selection Committee and a recommendation forwarded to the AUPO Board of Trustees and the AAO Board of Trustee for approval.

The Awardee will be notified in July.