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Danielle Robertson, O.D., Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor, Ophthalmology
  • IF/THEN Ambassador
“Perseverance is the key ingredient to success."

Overcoming Challenges

Dr. Robertson “took a nontraditional path to achieve a career in STEMM.” Coming from a “very small town surrounded by apple orchards in Washington state, we just didn't have access to programs and opportunities that those in big cities do.”

In addition to these geographic obstacles, Dr. Robertson recalled that “neither of my parents were in STEMM fields. In fact, looking back, I don't recall ever having any type of physician that was a female or knowing a female scientist. I had no idea about some of the career paths that were out there or how these careers would provide a good work-life balance.”

Despite these challenges, “I worked hard, continued to explore my options, and was very lucky to have good mentors who saw my potential. I eventually ended up with dual degrees in optometry and vision science,” she said. “I think one of the biggest barriers to success for girls in STEMM is being exposed to different STEMM careers and knowing what opportunities are out there – and seeing that women can excel in them.” Looking to the next generation, “my best advice is to not let someone tell you that you can't do it. Jump in with both feet and prove them wrong!”

Contributions to STEMM

Dr. Robertson is a clinician-scientist in the Department of Ophthalmology at UT Southwestern.

“I am trained clinically as an optometrist. I established the first dry eye specialty clinic on campus and see patients with severe dry eye disease.”

Additionally, “I am a vision scientist. I study the tissue on the front surface of the eye and how diseases such as diabetes and dry eye damage cause vision loss. I also study how bacteria can attach and invade that surface, causing blinding eye infections.” Dr. Robertson’s research focuses on corneal imaging, infection, diabetic keratopathy, and dry eye disease.

The UT Southwestern Difference

“I'm not sure I can pick just one thing that I like best,” Dr. Robertson said of her position at UT Southwestern.

“I love mentoring the next generation and celebrating their accomplishments. It is an amazing feeling to see someone succeed and know that you played an important part in influencing and shaping their life.”

She sees her inclusion in the Celebrating Breakthroughs Together Project as an “incredible honor. Our senior women faculty are role models to many of us on campus. Being a part of a project that represents the diversity and success of women on campus so that we can all be role models and inspire young girls to pursue STEMM careers is beyond words.”

Female Mentorship

Dr. Robertson’s professional involvement extends into the community through the IF/THEN Ambassadors program. Here, she serves as a mentor for young girls with the intention of increasing their advancement into STEMM-related fields. Recently, she was honored with a 3D printed statue as a part of the program’s #IFTHENSHECAN exhibit, displayed prominently at NorthPark Center in Dallas and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.

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