Beau is a Reader in neuroscience and head of lottolab at University College London. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in anatomy physiology, a PhD from Edinburgh’s Medical School in cellular and molecular developmental neurobiology, and was a research fellow at Duke University. He is co-author of the book entitled Why We See What We Do, and his colour illusions have been used by many other scientists, artists, teachers and science museums internationally. The work at lottolab includes computational, behavioural and physiological studies on human, bee, and robot vision.
Public engagement work includes presentations and installations at art galleries (e.g. the Hayward Gallery), science museums, and on the radio and television (most recently BBC Radio 4’s Leading Edge and BBC 2’s Coast programme; he is currently making a Channel 4 film on the science and art of emergence). All his work attempts to understand the visual brain as a system defined, not by its essential properties, but by its past ecological interactions with the world. In this view, the brain evolved to see what proved useful to see, to continually redefine normality.
In October 2006 Beau was a panellist at Randomness and Certainty at the Dana Centre.