Jeffrey D. Schall appointed inaugural scientific director of the York Visual Neurophysiology Centre

VISTA image showing an eyeball

York Provost and Vice-President Academic Lisa Philipps and Interim Vice-President Research & Innovation Rui Wang issue the following announcement to the York University community:

We are delighted to inform the York community that Professor Jeffrey D. Schall will join York University on Jan. 1, 2021 as the inaugural scientific director of the York Visual Neurophysiology Centre and professor in the Department of Biology, Faculty of Science.

Jeff Schall
Jeffrey Schall

Professor Schall comes to York University from Vanderbilt University, where he is a professor in the Department of Psychology and the E. Bronson Ingram Professor of Neuroscience; he has served as founding director of Vanderbilt University’s Center for Integrative and Cognitive Neuroscience since 2000. From 1998 to 2015 he also directed the Vanderbilt Vision Research Center; he was principal investigator of a “core grant” from the National Eye Institute, which funded staff and services designed to facilitate vision and eye research in laboratories across departments and schools at Vanderbilt.

Professor Schall is an innovative, prolific and internationally renowned scholar in the field of visual neurophysiology. He earned his PhD in anatomy at the University of Utah School of Medicine (1986) and subsequently completed postdoctoral training in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. His research, which has been supported by grants from the National Eye Institute, National Institute of Mental Health, National Science Foundation, and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, explores how the brain makes decisions and controls actions using cognitive neurophysiology, anatomical and computational approaches. His scholarly accomplishments have been honoured with awards from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the James S. McDonnell Foundation and the McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience, as well as the Troland Research Award from the National Academy of Sciences. He is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and the American Association for the Advancement of Science; and he was president of the Vision Science Society for its 2019 meeting.

At Vanderbilt University, Professor Schall has been responsible for supporting the operations and compliance of a similar neurophysiology facility since 1993; over the years, this facility has supported the research of between five and 10 faculty members at any given time. He has taught courses in a range of areas including visual systems, neuroscience and law, neuroethics, and psychology of human motor control, brain and behaviour.

Professor Schall will be a core member of the Vision: Science to Application (VISTA) program. VISTA is a world-leading institutional research program, located at York University and partially funded by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF); it expands and integrates York’s strengths in visual neuroscience, computer vision, arts and humanities to address 21st century opportunities and challenges. As scientific director of the York Visual Neurophysiology Centre, he will be charged with bringing to life a strategy for the neurophysiology facility, positioning the centre to make an impact locally and globally. He will have responsibility for the development of a new $32-million research facility devoted to neurophysiology, which will incorporate facilities for molecular biology, and serving as principal investigator with oversight of planning, execution and success of the Canadian Foundation for Innovation-funded project. He will also coordinate research activities and scientific staff in the facility, work collaboratively to recruit outstanding junior faculty to strengthen York’s research capacity in this area, and interact with health and industry partners. 

We look forward to welcoming Professor Schall to York University in 2021.