Vince Billock 

 

I was a chemistry major when I started taking physics at Miami.  I hated organic chemistry and I noticed that the parts of chemistry I liked were really physics anyway.  I loved the mental models that physics engendered, but I didn't feel particularly strong at math yet, so I asked George Arfken for advice.  He said I was strong enough mathematically and anything I couldn't solve analytically, I could attack numerically.

 

I guess I was a strange physics major: Doug Marcum told me that conceptual physics had been out of fashion since Faraday, Paul Scholten advised me to find a think-tank-like atmosphere where I could develop my odd ideas, and Bill Houk advised me to stay clear of academia in the early phase of my career if I wanted to develop a research program without the tenure process distorting my decisions.  They were all correct – I wound up doing computational neuroscience in military labs – and I've had a grand time ever since.

 

After earning a BS in Physics in 1981, and an MS in Physics in 1983, I left Miami and got a Ph.D. in Biophysics at Ohio State, specializing in visual biophysics and theoretical / computational neuroscience.  I married Bambi Fetters, (System's Analysis, Miami 1983,) and we have three kids.  My oldest will be a freshman at Miami this fall.  Except for a postdoc in clinical vision and a sabbatical in complexity theory, I've spent my career in military labs. I'm currently a lead physicist with General Dynamics at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patt.  Most of my research is informed by complexity theory and has focused on making vision fail in theoretically interesting and perceptually catastrophic ways, like seeing forbidden colors (JOSA A, 2001) and inducing specific hallucinations (PNAS, 2007).  I have an article in Scientific American on some of this research that should appear around Feb 2009, and I'm writing a book for Springer-Verlag's Complexity Series called "Chaos Reigns When Vision Fails: Complexity and Catastrophe in the Perception of Color and Contour" that should be out in early 2010.  I teach courses occasionally at a local university.  I'm working on nonlinear dynamic models of color vision (JOSA A, 2005) and I've been doing some work lately on stochastic resonance, fractal perception and camouflage.  I spend most of my spare time hanging out with my kids and recently started coaching Judo to 4-8 year olds.

 


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