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LRC News

Summer 2008
Undergraduate Program Opens Doors to Careers in Life Sciences in Lighting

Three undergraduate students majoring in health science, neuroscience, and biology recently completed an intensive, eight-week education and research program focused on the impact of light on human health and well-being.

“The LRC’s Life Sciences in Lighting internship is a great opportunity to introduce lighting as a field of study in several disciplines,” said LRC Assistant Professor Mariana Figueiro. The paid internship program is geared toward students interested in learning more about the impacts of light on human life and can potentially lead to fully funded graduate study in this area. In addition, the interns are mentored by Figueiro, a leading researcher in the area of light and health.

Interns (l-r) Tiffanie Benway, Karen Kubarek, and Brittany WoodThe interns—Tiffanie Benway, Karen Kubarek, and Brittany Wood—spent their summer investigating light therapy for sleep disturbances in older adults with and without Alzheimer’s disease, and the relationship between circadian disruption and sleep quality in those with diabetes. They worked side by side with LRC researchers in the lab and spent several hours in the field working with subjects to gather data. The internship culminated with each intern presenting her work publicly to LRC faculty, staff, students and invited guests.

“People take light for granted,” explained Kubarek, a health science major at Russell Sage College in Troy, N.Y., who expressed a new appreciation for light and lighting research. “For me, the internship opened up a whole new way to look at things, and what I learned can be applied to everyday life, even my own life.”

“The program was very challenging and provided an opportunity to do field work, which was a first for me,” said Benway, a 2008 graduate of the neuroscience program at Skidmore College in Saratoga, N.Y. “I would highly recommend the program to others.”

When asked how the internship may have influenced her career aspirations, Wood, a biology major at Russell Sage College with intentions of becoming a medical doctor, said that she now sees additional options in her future, including lighting research.

To participate in the program, students must have completed at least three years of study in biology, biophysics, cognitive science, experimental psychology, human factors, neurophysiology, physics, or other area related to the life sciences. For more information about the Life Sciences in Lighting internship, visit

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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