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Professor Michael Ibbotson

Director of the NVRI

Professor Michael Ibbotson

Professor Michael Ibbotson was recruited as the Director of the National Vision Research Institute in 2010 and started in the position in July 2011. Professor Ibbotson carried out his PhD in the field of visual neuroscience at Queen Mary, University of London. After he completed his studies in 1990, he took up a post-doctoral fellowship in the Centre for Visual Sciences at the Australian National University, Canberra, working with Professor Srinivasan.

Throughout his PhD and his early post-doctoral work he used the insect nervous system to investigate how information about image and body movements were integrated to generate behaviour. This work ultimately led to findings that have assisted in the development of visually guided flight stability systems for autonomous flying robots. Having completed that project he won a prestigious ARC research fellowship that aimed to translate the techniques he had learned studying the insect nervous system into the realms of the mammalian visual system, thus laying a baseline for medically related research. He conducted this transitionary work in the laboratory of Professor Richard Mark at the ANU.

Professor Ibbotson was awarded tenure at ANU in 2001 and simultaneously became Chair of Faculty at the Research School of Biological Sciences. He became Head of the famous Visual Sciences Group at ANU in 2006, which was one of the founding institutions that put Australian vision science on the world stage. This large research department nearly doubled its research impact during Professor Ibbotson’s headship. Professor Ibbotson became the Associate Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Vision Science in 2007. In that same year he was tasked with the development of the Eccles Institute of Neuroscience, which aimed to become a leading neuroscience research centre in Australia.

Throughout his time at ANU, Professor Ibbotson initiated a range of research topics including the use of eye movements to detect glaucoma, development of a bionic eye, studies of cortical development related to amblyopia, investigations of sensorimotor coordination relevant to a range of human conditions, such as schizophrenia and dyslexia, and he continued his interest in the insect nervous system and its usefulness to robotics. On taking up the post of Director of the NVRI in 2011, he became a research Professor of the University of Melbourne and also holds an honorary position at Monash University and a visiting fellowship from the ANU. Professor Ibbotson has spent extensive periods on four different visits at Emory University, Atlanta and New York University as part of research exchange programs in recent years.

He has strong research collaborations with the University of Washington, the University of Queensland and with Monash University. He is one of the twelve Chief Investigators that won the $42M special fund from the Australian Research Council to develop an Australian-built bionic eye.

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