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OSA | Living History

Gerald Westheimer

OSA Awards & Distinctions



Gerald Westheimer was born in Austria. In 1938, his family immigrated to Austriala. At the age of 15, he enrolled at the Sydney Technical College and worked as an optometric assistant. Though he completed the diploma and was offered a position, he had to wait to accept until he reached legal working age. At that time, he registered as an optometrist, was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Optometrists, and joined the Australian Optometric Association. His desire to pursue the scientific side of optometry grew more potent, and he enrolled in the University of Sydney, earning a Bachelors’ degree. After some uncertainty, Westheimer moved to the United States to study with Glenn A. Fry at the Ohio State University, ultimately earning his Ph.D.

Upon completion of his Ph.D., Westheimer followed a colleague to the University of Houston for one year. In 1954, he returned to Ohio State University, and was promoted to assistant professor in 1957. He took a sabbatical year in 1958 to work at Cambridge University, and shortly after returning he joined the University of California Berkeley where he is today Professor Emeritus.

Westheimer is widely recognized for his many years of research, and in 1978, OSA awarded him the Edgar D. Tillyer Award “for his contributions to our understanding of linear systems, vergence movements, and modulation transfer function of the eye ant to the organization of spatial vision.” He is a Fellow of OSA.



Document Created: 2 Oct 2020
Last Updated: 2 Oct 2020