Visiting Scholar Program Announces Four 2020 Awards

The McPherson ERI Visiting Scholar Program (VSP) provides a unique opportunity for McPherson ERI members to invite researchers from other institutions to visit UW-Madison for up to a week. Such immersive experiences facilitate in-depth interactions and exchanges of ideas, which in turn seed or solidify collaborations. For the second consecutive year, owing to the continued success of Cycle for Sight, the Institute has provided four VSP awards.

 Associate Professor Heather Kirkorian (Human Development and Family Studies) will host Dr. John Franchak, Department of Psychology at the University of California-Riverside, who will assist with training the Kirkorian group on computational methods for identifying low-level visual features in videos and predicting eye gaze in a cohort of young children. Such a program will be useful in studying the development of visual attention during the first five years of life.

Assistant Professor Karen Schloss (Psychology) will host Dr. Kevin Lande, Department of Philosophy and Centre for Vision Research at York University, Toronto, Ontario. Together they will develop ideas regarding current directions in visual reasoning—grounded in the philosophy and psychology of perception—connecting work in the Schloss Visual Reasoning Lab with broader theoretical issues in the field.

Distinguished Scientist Christine Sorenson (Pediatrics) will host Dr. David Hildeman, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Immunology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Dr. Hildeman will bring expertise in T cell biology, and will help advance understanding of the importance of inflammation and T cell homeostasis in neovascular eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

Professors Janis Eells (Biomedical Sciences, UWM) and Aki Ikeda (Medical Genetics) will host Dr. Glen Jeffery, Institute of Ophthalmology at University College and Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, UK. Dr. Jeffery’s work focuses on therapies to slow retinal aging, with primary interest in the role of mitochondria and how these organelles can be modulated optically to improve aged metabolism. Together with Eells’ work using near infrared light and Ikeda’s work on mitochondrial dynamics leading to age-dependent retinal pathologies, they will explore key issues in the relationship between mitochondria, light, and aging.

The $2,000 comprising each award can be used to cover travel, lodging, and per diem expenses for the Visiting Scholar, as well as expenses for hosting small group gatherings during the Scholar’s visit. McPherson ERI members will be informed when each of these respective Visiting Scholars are coming to UW-Madison, and may be invited to attend a lecture or another event organized by each Scholar’s host.

Thanks to members of the Education Committee for their review and recommendation role in this program.

The application period for the Institute’s 2021 Visiting Scholars Program will open in November 2020.