David Foster studied Physics at Imperial College, London. He graduated with first class honours and undertook postgraduate research in vision in the Applied Optics Section, receiving his PhD in 1970. After a 1-year research assistantship, he was appointed to a tenured Lectureship in the Department of Physics at Imperial. In 1976 he moved to Keele University to join the Research Department of Communication and Neuroscience, where he was subsequently appointed to a readership, then to a personal chair in 1988, and then to the Headship in 1994. He moved to Aston University in 1995 as Professor of Vision Sciences and Head of Department. In 1999 he moved to UMIST to take up a personal chair in Visual and Computational Neuroscience in the Department of Optometry & Neuroscience, where he served as Head of Department until 2003. He took up his present position in the School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering in 2006, where he was the Head of the Sensing, Imaging, and Signal Processing Group until 2010. He served as Director of Research in the School from 2013 to 2015.
He was elected Fellow of the Institute of Physics and of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications in 1981, and awarded a DSc in Biophysics from London University in 1982. He was elected Fellow of the Optical Society of America in 2004. He was awarded the Verriest Medal of the International Colour Vision Society in 2017.
He has served on the management committees of the Colour Group of Great Britain and of the Applied Vision Association, of which he was Chairman 1986-1995. He has served on the EPSRC Human Factors and People & Interactivity panels, and as a member of the EPSRC College. He is also a member of the Fellowship Panel of the Institute of Physics.
He co-founded the journal Spatial Vision in 1983, served as Editor-in-Chief for Europe and Australasia for 10 years, and then as an Advisory Editor for a further 15 years. He served as an Associate Editor of Computers in Biology and Medicine from 1994 to 2012 and as an Editor and then Senior Editor of Vision Research from 2003 to 2012. He was appointed Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Vision Researchin 2013.
He has published about 200 research articles. His book, A Concise Guide to Communication in Science & Engineering, based on courses given to postgraduate students and researchers, was published by Oxford University Press in 2017-18.