Kavitha Ratnam

Vision scientist | Yoga enthusiast | Baker of macarons


I am a fourth-year PhD candidate in Dr. Austin Roorda's lab in UC Berkeley's Vision Science Graduate Group. My research utilizes the adaptive optics scanning laser ophthalmoscope (AOSLO) to study the effects of fixational eye movements on high spatial vision. Previously, I worked with Dr. Jacque Duncan of UCSF to quantify retinal structural and functional changes in patients with inherited retinal degenerations using the AOSLO. Academia aside, my hobbies include yoga, kickboxing, and embracing my scientific side to experiment with macaron baking!


PhD Candidate, Vision Science
University of California, Berkeley
Advisor: Austin Roorda, PhD
Thesis topic: Effects of fixational eye movements on visual acuity studied using the adaptive optics scanning laser ophthalmoscope

Expected Graduation: May 2017

BS, Bioengineering
University of California, Berkeley

Aug 2005 - Sept 2009


Irvin M. Borish/Essilor Ezell Fellowship
American Optometric Foundation

Oct 2015

Graduate Division International Travel Award
University of California, Berkeley

July 2014

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship - Honorable Mention
National Science Foundation

March 2014

National Eye Institute Travel Grant
Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology

May 2011

Region A Scholarship
Society of Women Engineers

May 2009

National & Regional Conference Travel Awards
Society of Women Engineers

Oct 2008

National Conference Travel Award
Society of Women Engineers

Oct 2007

Silicon Valley Chapter 'Electronics for Imaging' Scholarship
Society of Women Engineers

June 2005


Guest Lecturer, VS84: Sophomore Seminar Series on Vision Science
School of Optometry, UC Berkeley

Fall 2013 - 2015

Graduate Mentor, Student Mentoring and Research Teams (SMART)
Graduate Division, UC Berkeley

Spring/Summer 2014

Vision Science Lab Instructor, Center for Adaptive Optics Summer School
University of California, Santa Cruz

Summer 2013/2014

Graduate Student Instructor, VS203B: Optical Systems and Physical Optics
School of Optometry, UC Berkeley

Spring 2013/2014


Design Editor
Berkeley Science Review

Sept 2015 - Present

Science Writer (Features Article on Adaptive Optics)
Berkeley Science Review

Jan - May 2015

Organizer, Bay Area Vision Research Day
UC Berkeley

Aug 2014

Undergraduate Mentor
Society of Women Engineers

Jan 2010 - May 2012

Technical & Web Director
Society of Women Engineers, UC Berkeley Chapter

Jan 2006 - May 2009


American Academy of Optometry

2015 - Present

Vision Sciences Society

2015 - Present

Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology

2010 - Present

Society of Women Engineers

2005 - 2009










Ratnam K Into Focus: How Adaptive Optics is Changing How We See the Universe (and Ourselves. Berkeley Science Review. Spring 2015. Print and Electronic. [LINK]

Ratnam K, Carroll J, Porco TC, Duncan JL, Roorda A. Relationship between foveal cone structure and clinical measures of visual function in patients with inherited retinal degenerations. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 54(8):5836-5847, 2013. [PDF]

Syed R, Sundquist SM, Ratnam K, Soudry SZ, Zhang Y, Crawford JB, Macdonald IM, Godara P, Rha J, Carroll J, Roorda A, Stepien KE, Duncan JL. High resolution images of retinal structure in patients with Choroideremia. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 54(2):950-61, 2013. [PDF]

Ratnam K, Vastinsalo H, Roorda A, Sankila E and Duncan JL. Cone Structure in Patients with Usher Syndrome III and Mutations in the Clarin 1 Gene. Arch Ophthalmol, 131(1):67-74, 2013. [PDF]

Duncan JL, Roorda A, Navani M, Vishwesvaraiah S, Syed R, Soudry S, Ratnam K, Gudiseva H, Lee P, Gaasterland T, Ayyagari R. Identification of a novel mutation in the CDHR1 gene in a family with recessive retinal degeneration. Arch Ophthalmol, 130(10):1301-8, 2012. [PDF]

Duncan JL, Ratnam K, Birch DG, Sundquist SM, Lucero AS, Zhang Y, Meltzer M, Smaoui N, Roorda A. Abnormal Cone Structure in Foveal Schisis Cavities in X-linked Retinoschisis (XLRS) from Mutations in Exon 6 of the RS1 Gene. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 52(13): 9614-9623, 2011. [PDF]

Chen Y, Ratnam K, Sundquist SM, Lujan B, Ayyagari R, Gudiseva VH, Roorda A, Duncan JL. Cone photoreceptor abnormalities correlate with vision loss in patients with Stargardt disease. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 52(6): 3281-3292, 2011. [PDF]

Talcott KE, Ratnam K, Sundquist SM, Lucero AS, Lujan BJ, Tao W, Porco TC, Roorda A and Duncan JL. Longitudinal Study of Cone Photoreceptors during Retinal Degeneration and in Response to Ciliary Neurotrophic Factor Treatment. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 52(5): 2219-2226, 2011. [PDF]

Duncan JL, Talcott KE, Ratnam K, Sundquist SM, Lucero AS, Day S, Zhang Y and Roorda A. Cone Structure in Retinal Degeneration Associated with Mutations in the peripherin/RDS Gene. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 52(3): 1557-1566, 2011. [PDF]


kavitha [AT] berkeley [DOT] edu

Image: AOSLO image of my retina. Credit: Duncan Lab


Last updated: March 2016