Tuesday, May 24, 2011

James Bowmaker

On 4th May 2011 the Honorary Membership of The Colour Group (Great Britain) was bestowed on Professor James Bowmaker by the Chairman Andrew Stockman.

Jim Bowmaker is one of the leading and most-respected figures in colour vision research. His career has spanned more than 40 years since his first of more than 100 impressive peer-reviewed publications appeared in 1970. After a Postdoctoral Fellowship at UCLA, Jim moved to the MRC Vision Unit at the University of Sussex, then to Queen Mary College, University of London, and finally to the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology.

Jim is a scientist of international renown. He was awarded the Rank Prize for optoelectronics (vision) in 1988 with Jeremy Nathans, John Mollon and Gerry Jacobs, and was the Colour Group Palmer lecturer in 2005.

Jim's key scientific achievements include:

  • The precise determination, by microspectrophotometry, of the absorbance spectra of human and Old World monkey cone visual pigments and the hypothesis that there is spectral variability in the human L and M cones.
  • The establishment of the polymorphic basis of colour vision in New World monkeys, with the hypothesis that there is a single polymorphic locus on the X chromosome for L and M cone pigments in these species.
  • The identification of four spectral classes of cone, including ultraviolet-sensitive cones, in birds and fish, and establishing the potential for tetrachromatic colour vision in these species.
  • The identification of specific tuning sites within rod opsins and UV/VS cone opsins in fish, birds and mammals.
  • The establishment that at least seven spectrally distinct cone opsins can be expressed within individual species from the rapidly evolving cichlid fish of the African Great Lakes. These species determine their spectral sensitivity by differential expression of only three of the seven cone opsin genes.

James Bowmaker

Jim in the wild outside the laboratory, usually near a glass of red wine, eating good food, and with his wife, friends and colleagues…

[Source: The Colour Group Newsletter 2011-05 / Andrew Stockman]