Williams received his Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego in 1979. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill in 1980 and joined the University of Rochester in 1981, where he is William G. Allyn Professor of Medical Optics in the Institute of Optics. Since 1991, Williams has served as Director of Rochester?s Center for Visual Science, an interdisciplinary research program of 32 scientists interested in the mechanisms of human vision. He is also Dean for Research of Arts, Science and Engineering where he is responsible for maximizing opportunities for faculty research and scholarship. Williams is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. Awards he has received include the OSA Edgar G. Tillyer Award in 1998, the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology?s Friedenwald Award in 2006, the Bressler Prize from the Jewish Guild for the Blind in 2007, and the Champalimaud Vision Award in 2012. He was elected to the National Academy of Science in 2014.

Research Interests

Williams' research marshals optical technology to address questions about the fundamental limits of human vision. His research team demonstrated the first adaptive optics system for the eye, showing that vision can be improved beyond that provided by conventional spectacles. This work lead to wavefront-guided refractive surgery used throughout the world today. More recently, his group has been deploying adaptive optics to obtain microscopic images with unprecedented resolution in the living eye, which is providing a new way to study blinding diseases of the retina and accelerate the development of therapies for them.

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Primary Section

Section 52: Psychological and Cognitive Sciences