Where They’re Headed: Emma Iacobucci ’21

The biology major and neuroscience minor is helping others overcome vision problems as a clinical research coordinator at Scheie Eye Institute.

Though Emma Iacobucci ’21 had an eye on a career in science, she didn’t know it would actually be in eyes. The biology major and neuroscience minor is working as a clinical research coordinator at Scheie Eye Institute, the ophthalmology department at the University of Pennsylvania. Iacobucci learned of the position at a Tri-Co STEM recruiting event in January 2021. She was interested in the opportunity to work in ophthalmology, which she was introduced to when she saw a neuro-ophthalmologist to help recover from a series of concussions she suffered while playing field hockey.

“I became fascinated not only with the relationship between the brain and the eyes, but with the complexities of the eye itself,” she said. “I saw this opportunity as a way to explore this interest while also gaining valuable clinical experience.”

Iacobucci’s work focuses on helping patients with various eye problems such as diabetic retinopathy, geographic atrophy, macular edema, chronic eye pain, and dry eye. She juggles a handful of tasks in her day-to-day. 

“On days I see patients, I am typically with them for two to three hours, more or less, depending on the study,” she said. “I aid in the consenting process, refract patients, and find their best corrected visual acuity as well as take them to get photographs, sit in as they meet with the doctors, and help provide study drugs if necessary. On the back end, I deal with Institutional Review Boards, maintain study source documents for our trial sponsors, and schedule patient visits.”

At Haverford, she took “Cognitive Neuroscience” with Professor Becky Compton, where she enjoyed studying the way eyes process visual stimuli. “Like visual stimuli, we started at the eye with the rods and cones and ultimately ended with the higher order processing done in the visual cortexes,” said Iacobucci. 

Working in healthcare can be daunting, but Iacobucci is enjoying her time helping others preserve their vision. She is hopeful that ophthalmology is a field she can continue to pursue as a career.

“Where They’re Headed” is a blog series reporting on the post-collegiate plans of recent Haverford graduates.