Michael C. Crair, Ph.D., who studies the development, structure, and function of the visual system, has been named the inaugural William Ziegler III Associate Professor of Vision Research.

Crair, a faculty member in the Department of Neurobiology, uses a broad range of experimental techniques, including in vitro and in vivo electrophysiology and optical imaging, to explore how genes and the environment guide the development of sensory maps in the brain, especially those that underlie vision. In addition to shedding light on the general question of how the brain is wired up during development, research in Crair’s lab has advanced understanding of how genetic instructions and sensory experience interact during brain development.

Crair joined the School of Medicine faculty in 2007 as associate professor of neurobiology and of ophthalmology and visual science. He is director of the Vision Core Facility, overseeing the molecular and cellular biology equipment, microscopes, and other technologies used in vision research at Yale. He also serves as director of graduate studies for the Department of Neurobiology.

Crair received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, Berkeley, and completed postdoctoral studies in neuroscience at Kyoto University in Japan, and at the University of California, San Francisco.

He has received numerous honors for his work, including a NARSAD–Sidney R. Baer Jr. Foundation Young Investigator Award. He has been named an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellow, a John Merck Fund Scholar, and the March of Dimes Foundation’s Basil O’Connor Fellow.

The new professorship was created by the family of the late William Ziegler III, of Darien, Conn., a long-time member of the Yale Eye Center Advisory Board.

Ziegler, who died in 2008, was an avid sailor and environmentalist. He was chair and CEO of American Maize-Products Company and later of Swisher International Inc.