San Antonio – St. Mary’s University’s Computer Science Department has been awarded a $159,000 grant from the U.S. Air Force to study the effects of lasers on the human eye.

The grant, titled “Computational Modeling of Laser-Cell Biochemical Interactions,” is with the Air Force Research Lab’s Human Effectiveness Directorate at Brooks City Base. The grant, which totaled $159,000, will allow researchers in both computer science and biology to develop a computer-based model that will simulate interaction of lasers with the retina of the eye. Pamela Fink, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science at St. Mary’s, will direct the grant project.

“Understanding how over-exposure of light affects the eye and what can be done to remediate those effects is useful in eye surgeries involving tools such as lasers, as well as in determining how to remediate the effects of over-exposure from work in industry and the military,” Fink said. “This is likely to produce many new insights into the effects of light exposure on the eye, and will result in a number of publications and presentations in both biology and computer-modeling fields.”

Two St. Mary’s students, one undergraduate biology student and one graduate computer science student, will be involved in the project, which will last two years.

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