David Williams

Dean for Research

David Williams was appointed Dean for Research in Arts, Sciences and Engineering in July 2011. In this role, Williams’ responsibility is to maximize the opportunities for faculty research and scholarship. This includes identifying new sources of extramural support, including government, industry, foundation, and private sources, that will allow faculty to realize their research goals and increase Rochester’s international visibillity. He is also responsible for helping faculty optimize the probability of funding success in part through guidance on proposal preparation and enhancing the infrastructure for grant submission. His office is available to help faculty identify research partners whether these be faculty at the University of Rochester in other disciplines and schools, partners in industry, or partners in the community. Dean Williams is particularly committed to finding ways for Rochester faculty in all fields to translate the early-stage concepts and inventions they create into products that improve our lives.

Williams received a B.S. degree in Psychology from Denison University in 1975. He received his M.A. (1976) and Ph.D. (1979) in Psychology from the University of California San Diego. Williams joined the University faculty in 1981. His primary appointment is in the Institute of Optics where he holds the William G. Allyn Professor of Medical Optics. He is also the director of the Center for Visual Science, a research program consisting of more than 30 faculty from 5 different departments dedicated to understanding how we see as well as the disorders that compromise our sight.

Williams is one of the world’s leading experts on human vision and has pioneered new technologies that are improving the eyesight of people around the globe, from the legally blind to those with 20/20 vision. His laboratory developed an automated method to measure and correct the optical defects of the eye far more accurately than had been possible before. This development has improved laser refractive surgery and the design of contact lenses, and is a key technology in a camera that can take the sharpest pictures ever of the retina inside the living eye. Williams is the author of more than 100 papers and patents, a Fellow of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the Optical Society of America, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is the recipient of the Tillyer Medal from the Optical Society of America, the Bressler Prize from the Jewish Guild for the Blind, and the Friedenwald Award from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.