Neuroscientist Richard “Dick” Held, Professor Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, launches his website in 2015 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of MIT’s Brain and Cognitive Sciences (BCS) Department. One of the three “Founding Fathers of BCS," Dick was its second Head of Department. Coincidentally, this event corresponds with Dick’s 93rd birthday, a milestone not only of longevity but also of his continuing work as an active scientist, mentor, wise observer, and witty commentator.
He earned degrees from Columbia University (BS Engineering, BA Liberal Arts), Swarthmore College (MS Psychology), and Harvard University (Ph.D Experimental Psychology) where his thesis dealt with adaptation of auditory localization. Joining the faculty of Brandeis University, he conducted research on visual and visuomotor adaptation to various kinds of optical rearrangement. He briefly served as Chair of the Psychology Department before his appointment to MIT where he continued studies of visual rearrangement and visuomotor development in both animals and humans. For nine years he was Head of Department of Psychology helping to shape the emerging discipline of brain and cognitive sciences.
Stepping down at 73, Dick accepted an appointment of Adjunct Professor of Vision Science at New England College of Optometry (NECO) to help build their research focus. He continues part-time at MIT collaborating on the research of Project Prakash, a laboratory studying the development of vision in patients, blind from birth, whose eyesight has been restored through surgery.