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New Professor of Optometry & Vision Science and Head of Department at the University of Auckland

01 April 2014
Steven Dakin - Department News

Professor Dakin took up his appointment on April 1.  He comes from the Institute of Ophthalmology at University College London and Moorfields Eye Hospital, London where he was Professor of Visual Psychophysics.  He replaces Professor Paul Donaldson who was appointed to head the School of Medical Sciences at Auckland.

Professor Dakin brings to Auckland extensive research experience in assessment of visual pathway and retinal function in infants and young children, studying motion perception in glaucoma, deficits in processing of sensory context associated with schizophrenia, and the nature of visual crowding.  Professor Dakin’s research into treatment of amblyopia in children complements current research in the Department studying amblyopia treatment for adults.

His PhD in visual psychophysics at the University of Stirling initiated an ongoing interest in understanding the neural processes supporting object recognition. His move to McGill University as postdoc in 1996 widened his interests to encompass peripheral and amblyopic vision. At this time Professor Dakin showed that pheripheral vision is limited by an inability to see contours – the boundaries of objects that define their shape – work that he reported with Robert Hess in Nature in 1997.

He moved to the Institute of Ophthalmology in 1999 as a Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellow, subsequently taking on a permanent position that culminated in his promotion to professor in 2010.  His work during this period has centred on vision through the lifespan and in individuals with neuropsychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders (such as autism). Professor Dakin currently serves an Editor of the Journal of Vision and Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences.

He was attracted to his new post by the strength of current vision research in Auckland but also by the opportunity to strengthen clinical psychophysics within the department, both through closer collaboration with the Centre for Brain Science and the Department of Ophthalmology, but also by forging new research links with UCL and Moorfields in London.