Professor Easters research efforts are devoted to understanding the development of the visual system, especially the mechanisms by which signals originating from the visual system are connected to the brain. Recognized as a leader in the international neuroscience community, Stephen Easter is considered the worlds foremost authority on the visual system of the bony fish. His early entry into developmental neurobiology involved a characteristically original step. Starting from a well recognized phenomenon, the continuous growth of the adult goldfish and its fully functional eye, he asked important questions about the way in which the optics and the central pathways of the eye could maintain experimentally demonstrable order in the face of the continuous shifts produced by growth. His research on growth and development in bony fish and mice elucidates important anatomical aspects of the human body which had not previously been understood.
Stephen Easter maintains an excellent record as an educator and mentor. One often overlooked yet admirable trait is his willingness to recognize the independent contributions of students. He is known to forego recognition as a co-author on publications in order to give exclusive credit to those students who have made unusually independent research contributions.
Professor Easter worked tirelessly to develop the program in neurosciences, now a large and vital program, as an area of excellence in graduate education at Michigan. Stephen Easter was the central figure in efforts to secure an interdisciplinary research training grant and he served as the programs first director. He has provided wise counsel in graduate education as an elected member of the Executive Board of the
Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies. He recently served as associate chair for Curriculum in the Department of Biology, making many thoughtful improvements, and he continues to provide commendable service as a member of the Executive Committee in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.
Stephen Easter is an exemplary scholar, an effective educator, an internationally renowned scientist, and an unusually effective administrator. We are proud to honor him with the Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award.