Prof Joanne Wood

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PhD (Aston University), BSc(Hons) (Aston University)

Background Dr Joanne Wood is a Professor in the School of Optometry and Vision Science at QUT, and has extensive research experience in a number of areas: vision and driving, vision and falls, children’s functional vision and clinical psychophysics (including visual field testing and development of techniques for the early detection of ocular disease). Her research experience, spanning over a period of 25 years, includes a PhD in Visual Sciences at Aston University, UK, followed by a Post Doctoral Fellowship in Clinical Psychophysics at Oxford University. Since 1989 she has been at QUT, initially employed as a Post Doctoral Fellow, and in recognition of her achievements, promoted through Senior Lecturer and Associate Professor to her current position as Professor. She has also  had roles as Director of Research in Optometry and leader of the Vision Improvement Domain of the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation. In recognition of her achievements she was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science (DSc honoris causa) from Aston University in Birmingham, UK.

Dr Wood’s research has resulted in the publication of a total of 252 articles in national and international refereed journals, and presentation of 200 research papers at major international conferences, including the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Transportation Research Board, Vision in Vehicles and the American Academy of Optometry. She has attracted research funding from a range of granting bodies including the ARC, ARC SPIRT, ARC linkage, NHMRC and Federal Office of Research as well as industry partners, with funding for research projects totalling $8.0 million in the last 10 years. In 1991, Dr Wood established a vision and driving research laboratory. This laboratory uses a unique experimental design, incorporating measurements of actual driving performance on a closed circuit driving course as well as on the open road, rather than making indirect judgments via crash rate data or driving simulators. Dr Wood’s research approach, by virtue of its multidisciplinary nature, has led to the development of an extensive research network overseas, involving a range of highly successful collaborations with academics across the world as well as from Australia, both within and outside of QUT. Over the last 10 years, a number of international scholars have visited QUT to participate in collaborative research projects because of the unique approach that Dr Wood has taken to the investigation of vision, ageing and driving.

Research Areas

  • Understanding how simulated and true visual impairment impact on driving performance measured under closed road conditions, quantifying the effect of distracters on driving, and identifying visual predictors of driving performance
  • Assessment of the effect of age and visual status on driving performance under open road conditions using specifically developed scoring systems, which have been adapted to assess the impact of systemic conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease on driving performance
  • Development of a measurement system that can accurately measure visibility distances while driving and applying this to road sign, pedestrian and cyclist visibility studies under day and night-time conditions
  • Developing techniques to measure night-time driving performance and determining how the age and visual status of the driver can impact on night-time driving ability
  • Recent research which has sought to better understand the role of vision and ageing in balance and falls and to identify common risk factors for crashes and falls in older people

Dr. Wood is also a reviewer for several national and international journals, as well as for the NHMRC and small and large ARC grant schemes. She was appointed to the Editorial Board of Optometry and Vision Science in December 2004, and was appointed as Topical Editor to the Feature Issue on Vision and Driving published in August 2005. She has extensive experience with, and is currently supervising honours, masters and PhD students.


  • 1991: Hirudoid Young Investigators Award for the best paper presented at the 1991 Canberra National Scientific Conference of the Australian Sports Medicine Federation
  • 1992: Garland Clay Award for the most significant paper in clinical optometry in the journal Optometry and Vision Science, 1992
  • 1996: Outstanding Academic Contribution Award, QUT
  • 2002: Best paper award, Driving workload comparison between older and younger drivers using the steering entropy method. Society of Automotive Engineers International
  • 2003: Best paper award, “On-road measures of pedestrians’ estimates of their own night-time conspicuity”, Transport Research Board, Washington, DC
  • 2003: Best poster award, “Quantitative assessment of driving and visual performance in Parkinson’s disease”, 7 th Multidisciplinary Conference on Parkinson’s Disease
  • 2003: Faculty of Health Excellence in Teaching Award, QUT
  • 2004: Vice Chancellors Excellence in Teaching Award, QUT
  • 2005: Australian Award for University Teaching – Biological Sciences, Health and Related Studies
  • 2009: Bartimaeus Award for contributions to the field of vision and driving that are recognized worldwide, Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology, 2009.
  • 2012: Aulhorn Lecturer, Imaging and Perimetry Society (IPS) Board, Melbourne, Australia
  • 2012: Carla Patterson Publication Award, Vision Improvement Domain, IHBI, 2012.
  • 2015: Arthur Bennett Prize”, for outstanding work that has had a significant impact in optometry and eye care, British College of Optometrists, UK, 2015.
  • 2015: Glenn Fry Award, American Optometric Foundation in recognition of the quality, significance, impact, and relevance to optometry of current research contributions. American Academy of Optometry, 2015.
  • 2017: Honorary Doctor of Science (DSc honoris causa), in “public recognition of individuals who have distinguished themselves in a particular field or profession or have given outstanding service to the University and/or the community.” Aston University in Birmingham, UK.
  • 2017: “Vice Chancellors Award for Excellence” at QUT in 2017 recognition of exceptional sustained performance and outstanding achievement in research of the Children’s Vision Team.
  • 2017: J Lloyd-Hewett Award for best paper in Clinical Experimental Optometry “Narayanasamy S, Vincent SJ, Sampson GP, Wood JM.  (2016) Visual demands in modern Australian primary school classrooms. Clinical & Experimental Optometry, 99: 233-240.”
  • 2018: Distinguished Lecturer, Schepens Eye Research Institute, Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Boston in recognition of  “unique expertise and outstanding accomplishments in the field of driving research”
  • 2019: International Optometrist of the Year Award, 2019, “to an optometrist of recognised international prestige who has excelled in academic, research, professional and social activity”, Barcelona, October 2019.
  • 2019: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society’s 2019 Hal W. Hendrick Distinguished International Colleague Award, for outstanding contributions to the human factors/ergonomics field. Candidates are considered based on the significance of their contributions and their worldwide recognition.

Research Webpage:

Vision & Everyday Function Webpage

Projects (Chief investigator)