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Vladimir Mamchik

Vladimir Mamchik

2023 Davidson Fellow
$25,000 Scholarship

Age: 18
Hometown: Hillsboro, OR

Science: “Dynamic Extraocular Filtering: A Novel Method for Active Correction of Color Vision Deficiency, validated with Steady-State Visual Evoked Potentials”

About Vladimir

My name is Vladimir Mamchik, and I'm an incoming first-year student at Stanford University. I have always been fascinated by the interactions between human vision and the brain and will continue to explore my interests as I study Human Biology and Neuroscience. I recently graduated from Jesuit High School in Portland, OR.

As an independent researcher, my work has been internationally awarded at both science fairs and medical conferences.  In 2021 and 2022, my research was named in the American Academy of Optometry’s Top Ten Studies of the Year, being  the only high school student ever recognized with this distinction.

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I am an avid hiker and love to spend time outdoors. In school, I lead our Science Research Club, was captain of our State Championship-winning Chess Team, and competed in Varsity Track.

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"I am extremely grateful to have been named a Davidson Fellow this year. It is an incredible honor to join such an inspiring group of young people, and I hope to use this opportunity to continue my research and advocate for the advancement of vision care."

Project Description

Color vision deficiency (or "color blindness") is one of the most common genetic disabilities in the world, with no cure or effective correction. Observers with "color blindness" are unable to perceive differences between chromatic hues, which is a major problem when it comes to workplace safety in virtually every career. I developed a new method for correcting color vision deficiency, called Dynamic Extraocular Filtering, which is based on selectively controlling the wavelengths that reach the eye at certain frequencies. My method improves color contrast perception to the level of normal color vision, a scale of improvement larger than that of the current clinical standard.

Deeper Dive

Color vision deficiency (also known as "color blindness") is one of the most common genetic disabilities in the world, affecting over 400 million people – including myself. After being diagnosed with a severe form of color vision deficiency in 2017, I began investigating the current standard for correcting the disorder, only to find that there is no cure or effective correction method available.

The current standard for correcting color vision deficiency is static, band-stop notch filter glasses which restrict more colors from being seen. This method is far from effective.

My project focused on developing a fundamentally new method of correction, using an active filter to dynamically control the wavelength spectrum that reaches the retinal photoreceptors at high frequencies. To test the efficacy of this method, I used both standardized testing and a novel method developed in this study based on analyzing SSVEP neural responses recorded with an EEG system. The results of testing showed that this method significantly increases contrast between perceived colors, improving color contrast perception for observers with color vision deficiency to the same level as observers with normal color vision. This scale of improvement is larger than that of the current methods, meaning my project has significant potential in becoming the future standard for color vision correction.

As is in all research, I did encounter a few challenges throughout the course of my study. However, one instance does stand out. During the testing phase of my study, after purchasing a new EEG system for use in collecting data, the initial results came back extremely noisy. The output wasn't only unusable but also a setback in my plan for testing. However, seeing this problem, I set out to overcome the obstacle. Perseverance and being open-minded worked hand in hand whenever I came across a problem. I spent hours troubleshooting and exploring current EEG signal analysis methods, which enabled me to develop a novel color vision testing method in my home lab.

During my research, I received incredible support that helped get this project to where it is today. I'm beyond grateful for the encouragement and unwavering support from my family, friends, and the amazing faculty at my high school - especially my biology teacher Dr. Lara Shamieh.

I am thankful for all the staff at the American Academy of Optometry who have supported my work these past few years, especially when I was the only high school student at the conferences. Additionally, I am grateful to the global leaders in the field of vision science who have taken the time to review my research, specifically Dr. Jay Neitz from the University of Washington School of Medicine and Dr. James Kundart from the Pacific University College of Optometry.

The ability to differentiate between colors drives our everyday lives, from seeing contrast between yellow and red traffic lights to being able to pick the ripest produce at the supermarket. As we continue to change the world and explore what lies beyond it, it's important to make sure that everyone can actually see the progress being made. Dynamic Extraocular Filtering has the potential to become the new clinical standard for correcting color vision, bringing the gift of color contrast perception to the "color blind". Whether it be in personal vision aids that allow the user to enjoy the vibrant colors in a piece of artwork or in a handheld assistive filter that an electrician can use to find the right color wire, the endless possibilities that accompany the ability to bring a new depth to vision to such a large percentage of the population is nothing short of exciting.


What is your favorite tradition or holiday?

Every year, throughout the summer, my family goes to a local U-pick farm and picks several gallons of blueberries. We’ve done this even before the pandemic, and have gone to the same farm every time.

What is your favorite hobby?

Especially growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I love to hike with my family - we have summited several mountains across the west coast.

What is your favorite Olympic sport?

My favorite Olympic sport has got to be Track and Field, especially with how close every event ends up being. Exciting until the very end!

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In The News

Portland, Ore. – The Davidson Fellows Scholarship Program has announced the 2023 scholarship winners. Among the honorees is 17-year-old Vladimir Mamchik of Hillsboro. Mamchik won a $25,000 scholarship for his project, Dynamic Extraocular Filtering: A Novel Method for Active Correction of Color Vision Deficiency, validated with Steady-State Visual Evoked Potentials. He is one of only 21 students across the country to be recognized as a 2023 scholarship winner.

Download the full press release here