March 2004
Volume 45, Issue 3
Lecture  |   March 2004
Introducing Jacob Sivak, the 2003 Recipient of the Proctor Medal
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science March 2004, Vol.45, 739. doi:
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      Howard C. Howland; Introducing Jacob Sivak, the 2003 Recipient of the Proctor Medal. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2004;45(3):739. doi:

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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It is a great privilege and pleasure to introduce my good friend, scientific collaborator, and colleague, Jake Sivak as this year’s Proctor Medal awardee. Jake and I go back a long way. I first met him in the winter of 1970 when he came from Indiana University to Cornell to undertake graduate study with Bill McFarland. Bill was and is a student of visual ecology, especially as related to visual pigments. I served on Jake’s graduate committee and together we did some experiments on accommodation in a rock bass. Jake completed his PhD thesis in 2 years on visual optics in bony fishes, and left for a job at the School of Optometry at the University of Waterloo. 
Since that time, we have mostly met at ARVO meetings in Florida or in visits to Waterloo and Ithaca and on occasional research expeditions, one of which I will mention in a moment. 
At Waterloo, Jake spent 2 years as an assistant professor, five as an associate professor and was made a full professor in 1980. He is now the holder of the National Science and Engineering Research Council/Bausch & Lomb Industrial Research Chair in In Vitro Ophthalmic Toxicology. 
While at the School of Optometry, Jake has served as its Associate Director from 1980 to 1982 and then as its Director and Associate Dean of Science of the University from 1984 to 1990 and from 1993 to 1999. From 1999 to 2002 Jake was Dean of Graduate Studies at the University of Waterloo. Thus, he has spent 17 of the past 23 years in very significant and demanding administrative positions. During that time, Optometry at Waterloo has blossomed into a first-rate research establishment, largely under Jake’s Directorships. And during that time of heavy administrative duties, Jake published almost 170 of his over 200 refereed publications, and he also supervised 28 graduate students and more than 30 undergraduate research students. His publication list is enviable, even for a research professor. But I submit that one would have to look very, very hard to find another dean or director with that degree of scientific productivity and teaching activity. 
Jake’s secret to success was revealed to me on an expedition to the Falkland Islands that he organized to study penguin vision. Standing in front of the kitchen sink in our host’s (Ian Strange’s) house, I discovered that Jacob Sivak, who was then approximately 35 years of age, had no idea as to how to wash a pair of socks. He had never done any laundry in his life! 
His wife, Barbara, who was his childhood sweetheart, had seamlessly taken over his mother’s guardianship of Jacob, and she has been the chief member of his support group ever since. Barbara Sivak has not only mothered and raised his three children, cooked his meals, and hosted his guests, but she has also taught his courses at the University when the need arose. Barbara is also an anatomist and has presented at the ARVO meeting (as, incidentally has his son, Jeremy Sivak). I am not saying that Barbara Sivak wrote the lecture that you are about to hear. But I want you to know that she could have, and that she is an equal partner in his success. 

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