Suzanne McKee Reflects on Her Career

Dr. McKee smiling in front of a whiteboard

Suzanne McKee's review in 2023's Annual Review of Vision Science is an important history of her experience as a woman scientist as well as her seminal conntributions to the field of vision science. Smith-Kettlewell is proud to have been a part of Suzanne's career for these years.

In 1980, Smith-Kettlewell was most fortunate to have Suzanne join our team after she had already distinguished herself in many aspects of vision research at Polaroid and UC Berkeley. She started as a half-time scientific administrator with the other half time as a PI. With her passion for science and her understanding of what scientists needed, she was an ideal interface between the scientists and the administration, but soon obtained large grants from the National Eye Institute and the Air Force and became a full-time Principal Investigator.

Her research in visual psychophysics led to her becoming one of the foremost experts in the world on stereopsis and motion detection. This in turn led to a huge landmark study on amblyopia for which she is best known, resulting in one of the most-cited papers ever on that subject.

Suzanne is universally agreed to have had a profound influence on vision science as a whole. In 2014, her contributions to vision science were recognized by the Tillyer Award from the Optical Society “for contributions to fundamental understanding of visual motion and of normal and abnormal human stereo vision, revealing the limits and character of brain mechanisms responsible for the perception of depth”. In 2015, she received the prestigious Davida Teller Award from the Vision Sciences Society for the “outstanding woman vision scientist with a strong history of mentoring”. Her warm, caring and collegial spirit has provided mentoring for many young scientists who have gone on to achieve fame and prominence in their own right, including Smith-Kettlewell’s Preeti Verghese. She continues to contribute to scientific collaborations and collegial relations both within the Institute and in the wider world.