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Mathew Alpern
LSA Minutes

Mathew Alpern
1920 - 1996

Mathew Alpern, Professor Emeritus of Physiological Optics in Ophthalmology in the Medical School and Professor Emeritus of Psychology, died on May 16, 1996. One of the world's foremost experts on color vision, Alpern was 76 years old.

Professor Alpern was born in Akron, Ohio in 1920. He received his O.D. degree in 1941 from Northern Illinois College of Optometry. After spending a brief period in private practice, he served in the U.S. Army from 1942-46. He received his B.M.E. degree from the University of Florida in 1944, and his M. S. (1948) and Ph.D. (1950) degrees in physiological optics from Ohio State University.

Professor Alpern began his academic career in 1951 as an Assistant Professor of Optometry at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon. In 1955, he joined the U-M faculty as an Instructor in Ophthalmology and Research Associate in the Vision Research Laboratory. He was promoted to Assistant Professor in 1956 and Associate Professor in 1958, and received additional appointments as Associate Professor of Psychology in 1959 and Associate Professor of Physiology in 1960. In 1963, he was named Professor of Physiological Optics in the Departments of Ophthalmology and Physiology, and Professor of Psychology. Professor Alpern retired from active faculty status in 1991.

During his long and distinguished career, Alpern received many scientific awards, including election in 1991 to the National Academy of Sciences. He was also the recipient of the Jonas Stein Friedenwald Award from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the Edgar D. Tillyer Medal of the Optical Society of America, the Research to Prevent Blindness Senior Scientific Investigator Award, the Charles F. Prentice Medal, and an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from the State University of New York's College of Optometry.

Professor Alpern was a member of many professional organizations, including the American Physiological Society, American Psychological Association, Association for Research in Ophthalmology, Optical Society of American and Sigma Xi.

A gifted scientist, and educator, Professor Alpern made major contributions to the scientific understanding of the mechanisms of human vision during 50 years of research in the field.