The research team

Dr. Benjamin Backus, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator

Professor Backus has studied binocular vision and perceptual plasticity for 20 years in normally sighted adults and adults with amblyopia. He has published more than 30 scholarly articles and his work has been funded by grants from the NIH, NSF, and the HFSP. He was trained in psychology, mathematics and neuroscience at Swarthmore College, did his PhD on binocular vision at UC Berkeley, and used fMRI to study binocular vision during a postdoc at Stanford. He has served on the psychology faculty at Penn and has been a scientist and teacher at the Graduate Center for Vision Research, and SUNY College of Optometry, since 2007. He was a math and science teacher in Oakland, California for 4 years before training as a scientist. He loves visual illusions and being in nature.


Dr. Elizabeth Quinlan, Ph.D.

Professor Elizabeth Quinlan is a neuroscientist whose research examines how the brain changes with age. Using a model system, her lab demonstrated for the first time that visual deprivation enhanced plasticity in the adult visual system, and could be used to promote the recovery of vision. This work is the foundation for the LUMA study examining the use of dark exposure as a treatment for amblyopia.  Dr. Quinlan received a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Iowa, a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and postdoctoral training in neuroscience from the University of Virginia and Brown University.  She joined the faculty at the University of Maryland in 2001.  Research from her laboratory on the regulation of plasticity in the visual system has been widely published and continuously funded by the National Eye Institute of the NIH.  She is the recipient of a Faculty Excellence Award from the University of Maryland, and the Advancement of Science Award from the Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association.

Dr. Cristina Llerena-Law, O.D.


Dr. Jose-Manuel Alonso, M.D., Ph.D.


Dr. Jenelle Mallios, O.D.
Lead Optometrist, 

Dr. Jenelle Mallios, a Chicago native, completed her degree in 2010 at NECO in Boston where she also completed a pediatric residency.  Following residency, she took the position as an attending pediatric optometrist within the Ophthalmology department at Tuft Medical Center. In addition to this clinical position, she had two academic appointments; Instructor of Opthalmology at Tufts Medical School and Adjunct Clinical Professor at NECO. After three years, she came to SUNY College of Optometry as an Assistant Clinical Professor. She has been involved in pediatric vision research and was fortunate to present work at the AAO and continued research as Clinical Investigator in PEDIG and now a Sub-Investigator with multiple studies in the CVRC.

Dr. Steven Larson, O.D., Psy.D.
Chief Psychologist, Investigator

Jason Grygier
Current Research Coordinator

Morgan Williams
Former/Founding Research Coordinator

Morgan graduated from Swarthmore College with a B.A. in Psychology and Political Science in 2014. In his undergraduate research career he published seven scholarly articles and abstracts, and has presented research at the Vision Sciences Society annual conference three times. He has experience in graphic design, video production, theater, and comedy. He has also served as a camp director, a hammock marketer, and a golf cart dispatcher. Morgan likes thinking about fonts, branding, network science, and black holes.