Fechner Day 2017 was held Friday, October 20, and was well attended by UMSL students and faculty.  The annual tradition, coordinated by Dr. Carl Bassi, Professor, and Director of Research, allows the opportunity for a renowned researcher with an interest in psychophysics (as Gustav Fechner has been called the “Father of Psychophysics”) to present the results of their research.  The 2017 keynote speaker was very qualified.

Maureen Powers, Ph.D., FAAO, FARVO, FCOVD is the Senior Scientist and Director of Research at the Gemstone Foundation.

Dr. Powers completed her undergraduate work at UC Berkeley and her Ph.D. in visual neuroscience at the University of Michigan. After post-doctoral research fellowships in Ophthalmology at Michigan and in Vision Science at the University of Washington, she was appointed to a professorship in the Department of Psychology at Vanderbilt University, where she attained the rank of full professor. Among her graduate students was, in fact, Dr. Carl Bassi. In addition to running her own NIH- and NSF-supported laboratory and heading, at various times, the graduate and undergraduate degree programs in Psychology, she also founded and directed the Vanderbilt Vision Research Institute, where she had a remarkable track record of NIH funding. In 2000, she moved to California and began the Gemstone Foundation.

Dr. Powers’ research has included work with animal models of retinal regeneration and the relationship between retinal processing and visual sensitivity; work with infants on visual optics and on dark-adapted visual function; work on circadian rhythms in visual function in humans and animals; patient satisfaction with early radial keratotomy surgery; and most recently the relation between visual skills and academic performance. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) and of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD).

Dr. Powers presented on the topic of “Understanding How Vision Works.”  This consisted of an overview of her work in psychophysics, ranging from measuring visual function in goldfish and Limulus to her seminal infant psychophysics studies in Dr. Davida Teller’s laboratory to her current work with binocular vision and reading in children.  Dr. Bassi was excited to have Dr. Powers as the 2017 honored speaker.  “I was thrilled to have Dr. Powers present this year not only for personal reasons (she was my graduate advisor) but because she has contributed in so many areas in psychophysics.”  As custom dictates, German chocolate cake was served after the lecture.

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Dr. Powers and Dr. Bassi

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