David R. Williams

David R. Williams

  • William G. Allyn Professor of Medical Optics
  • Professor of Optics
  • Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences
  • Professor of Ophthalmology
  • Professor of Biomedical Engineering
  • Professor in the Center for Visual Science
  • Director, Center for Visual Science

PhD, University of California, San Diego, 1979

270 Meliora Hall
(585) 275-8672


Short Biography

David R. Williams received his BS from Denison University in 1975, his PhD from the University of California, San Diego in 1979 under the mentorship of Donald I.A. MacLeod and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill in 1980 with John Krauskopf. He is currently William G. Allyn Professor of Medical Optics at the University of Rochester. Since 1991, Williams has served as director of Rochester’s Center for Visual Science, an interdisciplinary research program of 29 faculty interested in the mechanisms of human vision. He is also an associate director of the Center for Adaptive Optics at UC, Santa Cruz. He is a fellow of Optica and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, received the OSA Edgar G. Tillyer Award in 1998, and the Archie Mahan Prize in 2004. He is also the 2006 recipient of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology’s Friedenwald Award.

Research Overview

Dr. Williams' research marshals optical technology to address questions about the fundamental limits of spatial and color 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. His team also showed that adaptive optics can provide microscopic images of the retina with unprecedented resolution.

Research Interests

  • The Human Visual System
  • Physiological Optics