Professor Lawrence WeiskrantzBack to People

Department: Department of Experimental Psychology
College appointment: Emeritus Fellow


My early education was at Girard College in Philadelphia, a school and home for “poor male white orphans,”  founded by Stephen Girard in 1848 (it has since become co-educational and not restricted to whites.).  My father, who was a G.P. died unexpectedly in his early 40s when I was 6 years old.   It was the depths of the depression in 1932 and my mother was destitute and ill.  She wisely chose to apply to place me at the age of 8 in Girard,  to which I remain very loyal and grateful for its high educational and caring standards.  Nearing leaving age at 18 at Girard, and knowing that I wanted to go to University, I applied to several in the Pennsylvania area, explaining that I would need support.  Swarthmore College came through first with a “working scholarship” – in return for my working as a waiter and other chores I was granted an academic scholarship and room and board.  I started reading physics in 1944 but was soon drafted into the U.S. Army during the 2nd World War.  Upon my return to Swarthmore after the war, and with the support of the “G.I. Bill” I started over again from scratch , reading philosophy, English literature, and psychology, finally majoring in psychology.

The move to the U.K. was due mainly to serial serendipity.  Just before I graduated from Swarthmore in 1949 it offered me a newly created Catherwood fellowship for one year, and I chose to go to Oxford, after which I returned to the States.  Later, out of the blue, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences offered me a one-year post-graduate fellowship in 1955, and I returned to Oxford.  While there I was tempted by an invitation to Cambridge for a few years, which stretched into 11 years, ending with my return to Oxford as Professor Psychology in 1967.

An account of my career is taken largely from an article in Scholarpedia:

“Larry Weiskrantz (b. 28 March 1926, Philadelphia, PA) was educated at Swarthmore (B.A. with highest honors in 1949); M.Sc. from Oxford University  (1950) and Ph.D. from Harvard University (1953). He worked at Institute of Living, Harvard, Tufts, Cambridge University, and Oxford University (Head of the Department of Psychology since 1967), where he has been Emeritus Professor and an Emeritus Fellow of Magdalen College since 1993.

Dr. Weiskrantz is a member of many honorary societies and the recipient of many awards. In particular, he is a Fellow of Royal Society, a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and of Academia Europaea. He has served on the Council of Royal Society, and on the Council of the Fyssen Foundation, is a medalist of the Royal Society of Medicine and medalist of the American Association for Advancement of Science, has delivered the Heisenberg Lecture of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences/Siemens Foundation and the Ferrier Lecture of the Royal Society. Larry was Honorary President of European Society for Philosophy and Psychology, inaugural President of European Brain and Behaviour Society, and President of Association for Scientific Study of Consciousness.

Dr. Weiskrantz is an author of over 200 publications ranging widely over many areas of cognitive neuroscience, and he is often credited with the discovery of the phenomenon of blindsight.”