Wlliam Sprague, PhD

I’M FROM: Savannah, Georgia
BEFORE VS: I received a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Georgia Tech in 2008. Before coming to Cal, I researched how to use cardiac MRI to diagnose ventricular dyssynchrony and predict which patients would improve with a pacemaker.
WHY I’M HERE: The Vision Science Program at Berkeley is a truly interdisciplinary program at one of the best research institutions in the world. The VS Program gives you access to experts in biology, psychology, neuroscience, and computer science — all working on the same problem. It’s also a stone’s throw from Silicon Valley and a BART ride from San Francisco. Some of the most amazing hikes are within a few hours drive. When I got into Cal and my wife got into Stanford, moving to the Bay Area was a no-brainer.
MY RESEARCH: The visual system doesn’t have direct access to the world. Instead, it has the tremendously difficult task of inferring the make-up of the world from the relatively impoverished information delivered to the retina. How does the visual system provide such a rich perception of the world – material properties, lighting direction, shape, object identification, egocentric location – when all it starts with is how much light hits a particular spot on the retina? I’m particularly interested in how the brain reconstructs three-dimensional structure. One of the strongest cues to depth and shape is disparity. The eyes have slightly different images of the world, and the brain can use these differences to calculate depth. I research how the brain makes this calculation, especially how the brain takes advantage of the statistical regularities of the disparities at the retina.
MY HOBBIES: I enjoy cycling, backpacking, and cooking. I got my pilot’s license while I was at Tech and I’ve been (slowly) working towards adding a glider rating when I have the time and money. I’ve recently started dabbling in astrophotography. I spend most evenings playing the park with my wonderful dogs.