Sarita Soni


American Association for the Advancement of Science (2014)
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Indiana University Bloomington
School of Optometry
IU Bloomington Provost's Medal (2014)
IU Bloomington Provost's Medal
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: Lauren K. Robel
IUPUI Spirit of Philanthropy Award (2011)


Sarita Soni was associate vice president for research at IU and vice provost for research at IU Bloomington. A distinguished vision scientist specializing in contact lens research, Soni was also a professor of optometry and vision science at the IU School of Optometry, where she joined the faculty as a lecturer in 1976.

Within the School of Optometry, Soni, who earned her O.D. degree from the IU School of Optometry in 1976, served as founding co-director of the nationally recognized Borish Center for Ophthalmic Research from 1995 to 2006 and, concurrently, as the school's associate dean for research from 1992 to 2004.

She has been continuously affiliated with IU Bloomington's research office since 1990, when she was appointed acting associate dean for research. Soni became IU's associate vice president for research in 2004 and the vice provost for research on the Bloomington campus in 2006.

Her accomplishments as vice provost for research include significantly enhancing support for the social sciences and humanities at IU Bloomington, especially through the creation and opening of the new Social Science Research Commons in Woodburn Hall 200, a state-of-the-art collaborative space designed to foster connections among social scientists on campus; and, from 2005 to 2011, spearheading IU's New Frontiers in Arts and Humanities program, an internal funding program that has provided support to hundreds of IU artists and scholars.

Soni also established the Collaborative Research and Creative Activity Funding program to further joint projects among IU Bloomington artists, humanists and scientists and oversaw the reconfiguration of IU Bloomington's Faculty Research Support Program. Under Soni's direction, the Faculty Research Support Program, intended to help faculty improve projects for grant submission, has stimulated greater external funding and recognition for science faculty.

Most recently, Soni was instrumental in gaining a $5 million award from the Lilly Endowment's Initiative to Promote Opportunities through Educational Collaborations, a funding program aimed at increasing the number of college graduates who find meaningful employment in Indiana.

Throughout her final year as vice provost, Soni collaborated with Robel on the IU Bloomington Strategic Plan, leading the subcommittee that produced the research section of the report, which lays out near- and long-term research objectives and goals for IU Bloomington.

Soni is the author or co-author of more than 70 scientific journal articles and research abstracts, and has served as president of the American Optometric Foundation. She has been elected a member of the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Optometry and the International Society for Contact Lens Research and served on the Advisory Council of the National Eye Institute, the Ophthalmic Devices panel of the Food and Drug Administration, and the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology's Advocacy Committee.