International Day of Women & Girls in Science 2024 – Dr. Ellen Zhou | Orbis

International Day of Women & Girls in Science 2024 – Dr. Ellen Zhou

On February 11, we recognize International Day of Women & Girls in Science. This is a wonderful opportunity to highlight one of our Orbis Future Vision Leaders, Dr. Ellen Zhou.

Drawn to medicine by her love of research, Dr. Ellen Zhou wanted a career that allowed her to investigate the potential for improved treatments and therapies while also helping people directly. Medicine felt like a good blend of both passions. Ellen finished her MD/PhD at McGill University in Montreal, where she was able to complete her medical degree while also spending time furthering her deep interest in clinical research.

Now finishing her residency at the University of Toronto before moving into a glaucoma fellowship position at Dalhousie University in Halifax, she is excited about her future as an academic ophthalmologist. She is also committed to the Orbis Future Vision Leaders program, where she is able to network with her peers and learn from leading experts in global ophthalmology.

The exhibit Ellen saw was at the Zhongshan Ophthalmic Centre (ZOC) in Guangzhou, China. The leading eye hospital in China, ZOC has an exhibition hall that highlights important advances in China’s ophthalmic history. Ellen was pleased to see Orbis included, and feels it is important to continue to support the organization’s mission of reducing avoidable blindness.

“Now that I’m becoming an ophthalmologist, I feel that my education has enabled me to participate in Orbis," Ellen notes. "Not only admiring how great it is, but also using my knowledge to help patients or teach future ophthalmologists one day. That’s why I want to be part of the Orbis Future Vision Leaders and raise awareness. In the future, I hope to participate in an Orbis trip, either on the plane or on other programs. I think teaching future ophthalmologists is another way to help patients.”

With her goal of being an academic ophthalmologist and to focus on teaching, Ellen understands the importance of role models and support for women in STEM.

“We know there are more women in the field, but the challenge remains. And there’s certain things that can be more difficult than for men in the same situation. We need to acknowledge those differences, but not be scared or deterred by them. Believe in yourself, try your best,” she tells other women interested in joining the field. “I feel that [being a woman in ophthalmology] is something that inspires me to do better and to be stronger, and reminds me that you also have to be kind to yourself sometimes.”

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