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LRC News

March 2009
Quantifying the Impact of Daylight and Electric Lighting on Student Alertness, Performance, and Well-being

The LRC has earned the notable distinction of receiving one of only 13 first-ever research grants awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The $250,000 grant will fund research to investigate the impact of daylight and electric lighting on K-12 students' performance and well-being, as well as investigate the underlying biological mechanisms associated with this possible link.

The project team includes principal investigator Assistant Professor Mariana Figueiro, Ph.D., and co-investigators Professor and LRC Associate Director Russ Leslie, AIA, FIES, LC, and Professor and LRC Director Mark Rea, Ph.D.

"We hypothesize that if light has an impact on students' performance and well-being, it is by promoting their circadian entrainment to the solar day, especially in winter months," says Figueiro. "Those who are not exposed to enough daylight will experience a more pronounced delayed circadian phase, which will result in sleep problems and more severe stress."

The project team will be aided by Professor Mary Carskadon, Ph.D., E.P. Bradley Hospital Chronobiology and Sleep Research Laboratory (associated with Brown University), who will provide guidance and consultation on the experimental design and assist in reviewing and interpreting study data. The studies begin this spring at middle schools located in North Carolina and New York.

Read the press release or visit the LRC's Light and Health Program page to learn more about this exciting area of research.

About the Lighting Research Center

The Lighting Research Center (LRC) is part of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of Troy, N.Y., and is the leading university-based research center devoted to lighting. The LRC offers the world's premier graduate education in lighting, including one- and two-year master's programs and a Ph.D. program. Since 1988 the LRC has built an international reputation as a reliable source for objective information about lighting technologies, applications, and products. The LRC also provides training programs for government agencies, utilities, contractors, lighting designers, and other lighting professionals. Visit

Contact:lrcnewsletter@rpi.eduPhotos & Graphics:Dennis Guyon
Editor:Mary CimoWeb Production:Joann Coffey
Contributing Writers:Jennifer Taylor, Mary Cimo
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