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Troy, N.Y. -  2/3/2010

Lighting Research Center Announces Besal Lighting Education Fund Award Recipient


Sara Nonaka, a graduate student pursuing her Master’s of Science in Lighting at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Lighting Research Center (LRC), was selected to receive one of five national scholarships from the Besal Lighting Education Fund, which aspires to encourage talented and committed students to pursue a career in the lighting industry.
As a 2009-2010 Robert J. Besal Fund Scholarship recipient, Nonaka will receive funds to support her graduate studies. Funds are used to offset the cost of tuition for students that show a proficiency and appreciation for lighting-related topics. The scholarship is merit-based and is determined completely by academic excellence.
For the Besal scholarship application, Nonaka provided an energy-efficient lighting renovation proposal for a Fresno County School District elementary school in California, which currently has lighting that is over 15 years old.  Her work included conceptual renderings and luminaire selections for key areas of the K-12 schools, including classrooms, hallways, cafeteria, and the gymnasium.
Previously, Nonaka was a recipient of the Lighting Design Alliance Scholarship in 2009, from the International Association of Lighting Designers. At the LRC she is studying the effects of daylight on the circadian systems of middle school aged students under the direction of Professors Russ Leslie and Mariana Figuiero.
“Sara Nonaka has demonstrated a strong enthusiasm and understanding for lighting research and design. The Lighting Research Center is pleased to work with her and support her as a future industry leader,” said Leslie, LRC associate director.
Nonaka is from Concord, California. She has her Bachelor of Arts degree in design from the University of California, Davis.
About the Besal Lighting Education Fund
The Besal Lighting Education Fund has awarded over $500,000 in scholarships to students in order to encourage talented and committed students to pursue a career in the lighting industry. The Besal Fund was established in 1983 as a nonprofit endowed fund, in honor of the late Robert J. Besal, whose 30 years of service in the lighting industry demonstrated knowledge, professionalism, and service. The Besal Fund is made possible by contributions from Acuity Brands Lighting, its sales representatives, and employees. Acuity Brands Lighting is North America’s largest manufacturer of lighting equipment for commercial, industrial, outdoor, and residential application.

About the Lighting Research Center
The Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is the world's leading center for lighting research and education. Established in 1988 by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the LRC conducts research in light and human health, transportation lighting and safety, solid-state lighting, energy efficiency, and plant health. LRC lighting scientists with multidisciplinary expertise in research, technology, design, and human factors, collaborate with a global network of leading manufacturers and government agencies, developing innovative lighting solutions for projects that range from the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to U.S. Navy submarines to hospital neonatal intensive-care units. In 1990, the LRC became the first university research center to offer graduate degrees in lighting and today, offers a M.S. in lighting and a Ph.D. to educate future leaders in lighting. Learn more at

About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America's first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, 32 research centers, more than 145 academic programs, and a dynamic community made up of more than 7,900 students and more than 100,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include more than 145 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration.