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David Badcock Headshot

Emeritus Professor David Badcock

School of Psychology

"If you want to know what a paper is about and how good it is, you have to read it. You can’t ever read too much."

Professor Badcock joined the UWA School of Psychology in 1996 as Professor, Head of School, 1999-2003. Professor Badcock’s research focus is on the function of the human visual system, primarily employing behavioural measurement of visual performance to reveal the underlying mechanisms of the human visual system and their role in those with altered perception. His Doctor of Philosophy in Experimental Psychology (Oxford), was followed by post-doctoral appointments at UC Berkeley and Durham, UK, before returning to Melbourne University.

Professor Badcock’s research contribution has been recognized with Fellowships of the Association for Psychological Science, the Academy of Social Sciences of Australia, the Australian Psychological Society (APS), the APS President’s Award for Distinguished contribution to Psychology in Australia and the inaugural UWA Vice Chancellor’s Senior Research Award (Medical and Health Sciences).

Professor Badcock is currently President of the Psychology Foundation of Australia and the past Chair of the Australian Academy of Science National Committee for Brain and Mind, which formed the Early and Mid-career Brain Researchers Network, and executive committee member of the Australian Brain Alliance.

Most important experiences at UWA

The School of Psychology was a pleasure from day one. There was a very strong focus on quality in all aspects of the school role. Staff showed outstanding drive, organization and professionalism and, originally, had the freedom to take our own initiatives which kept us at the international cutting edge.

The most pleasure has come from the successes of my students. To see a career develop and flourish gives a deep satisfaction.

Where did you think you would end up, when you began your career?

I commenced university intending to be a school psychologist but learnt I could make a bigger contribution as a researcher. I started on visual processing in Dyslexia but found I needed more advanced knowledge of how vision works. The Rhodes scholarship allowed me to spend time learning the inter-disciplinary approach to studying normal visual functioning, to meet my wife and lifelong collaborator, and I have studied both normal and abnormal vision from then on.

What are some of your most significant achievements?

I have been fortunate in having a research impact. My work provided an explanation that terminated a popular field of spatial vision research. Soon after, my work initiated a new model of motion perception that was a central focus internationally for 20 years. With Allison McKendrick, I have outlined fundamental changes in visual function in people who experience migraines.

Pleasing national contributions include helping initiate the Australian Brain Alliance, and the International Brain initiative, roles promoting research and training as President of the Psychology Foundation of Australia, the Australasian Society for Experimental Psychology and via the Research, Education and Training advisory committee of the Australian Psychological Society.

A personal highlight was refereeing the intervarsity Oxford vs Cambridge basketball match at Crystal Palace during my Doctor of Philosophy years.

What has been the most interesting aspect of your career?

There have been highlights in all aspects of my academic role. It is a joy to see the spark ignite in students as they master a new field. In research there is excitement in working with and mentoring talented younger colleagues, who usually become the equivalent of family members for life, and in learning from the new sets of expertise of established colleagues.

In discipline administration I have enjoyed the chance to push both locally and nationally for quality in course delivery, professional and research training and there have been some wins along the way.

Where to from here?

I will maintain an interest in Vision Science as it impacts so broadly on daily life, and I can’t help noticing that during my normal day. There are lots of unanswered questions still. I do intend to spend more time on my relatively new hobby of wood turning and to participate in a more leisurely manner in my lifelong interests in bush walking and photography.

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