Biography

Brian A. Wandell is the first Isaac and Madeline Stein Family Professor. He joined the Stanford Psychology faculty in 1979 and is a member, by courtesy, of Electrical Engineering and Ophthalmology. He is Director of the Center for Cognitive and Neurobiological Imaging, and Deputy Director of the Wu Tsai Neuroscience Institute. Wandell’s research centers on vision science, spanning topics from visual disorders, reading development in children, to digital imaging devices and algorithms for both magnetic resonance imaging and digital imaging.

Educational background. Wandell graduated from the University of Michigan in 1973 with a B.S. in mathematics and psychology. In 1977, he earned a Ph.D. in social science from the University of California at Irvine. After a year as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, he joined the faculty of Stanford University in 1979. Professor Wandell was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 1984 and became a full professor in 1988.

Neuroscience. Wandell’s work in visual neuroscience uses functional, structural and quantitative MRI along with behavior testing and modeling to understand the action of the visual portions of the brain. His research includes studies of the organization of the visual field maps in the human brain, color and motion processing within these maps, and the potential for reorganization following injury or developmental disorders. The Wandell lab develops tools for diffusion imaging and functional MRI. Recent years they have carried out a series of studies on brain plasticity and development. In one example, they are carrying out a longitudinal study measuring the development of structures and signals in visual cortex in children, aged 8-12, as they become skilled readers. The lab’s measurements of developmental changes during the acquisition of skilled reading are intended to understand how visual signals become rapidly identified and classified in the process of learning to read.

Digital imaging. Brian Wandell’s research includes image system engineering and visual neuroscience. In cooperation with Professor Emeritus Joseph Goodman (a faculty member in Stanford’s School of Engineering), Professor Wandell founded the university’s Stanford Center for Image Systems Engineering Program. As part of this research, Wandell and his team study and build devices used for digital imaging, including image sensors, high dynamic range displays, and ISET software simulations of the digital imaging pipeline.  This software was distributed through Imageval Consulting, LLC to more than 80 companies in the Silicon Valley, and it is now open-source and freely available .

Teaching. Brian Wandell’s teaching at Stanford reflects his multiple areas of expertise. He has taught courses on behavior, perception, cognitive and behavioral neuroscience, image systems and computational He has also led classes on color science and computer applications for engineers and managers from more than 200 companies. Together with Michael Perry and Joyce Farrell, Wandell worked to create a site for sharing public talks at Stanford  In addition to numerous scientific articles, Brian Wandell is the author of the vision science textbook Foundations of Vision. He has served as a consultant and technical advisor for a number of corporations and has patented some of the products of his work.

Reproducible research.  Building on software developed at Stanford’s Center for Cognitive and Neurobiological Imaging, in 2015 Wandell co-founded Flywheel Exchange, LLC,, a company to provide software for reproducible research.  Flywheel products provide a comprehensive software platform for data and metadata management that helps scientists and clinicians steward and analyze valuable medical imaging data. The software incorporates cloud-scaling of image processing and analytics applications, along with methods to maintain provenance over the calculations – what methods were used to analyze the data. Flywheel is collaborating with Google to support large, labeled data aggregation for use in artificial intelligence applications. Flywheel customers include leading research institutions, research hospitals, and clinical researchers.  Wandell’s team is extending the range of reproducible research applications, using the tools for various neuroscience applications and large-scale computer graphics simulations for artificial intelligence in advanced driving assistance systems.

Honors. In 1986, Wandell won the Troland Research Award from the National Academy of Sciences for his work in color vision. He was made a fellow of the Optical Society of America in 1990; in 1997 he became a McKnight Senior Investigator and received the Edridge Green Medal in Ophthalmology for work in visual neuroscience. In 2000, he was awarded the Macbeth Prize from the Inter-Society Color Council, and in 2007 he was named Electronic Imaging Scientist of the Year by the SPIE/IS&T, and he was awarded the Tillyer Prize from the Optical Society of America in 2008. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2011. Oberdorfer Award from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, 2012. In 2014 he was awarded the highest honor of the Society for Imaging Science and Technology. In 2016 he was awarded the George A. Miller prize of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society. Wandell was elected to the US National Academy of Sciences in 2003.