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Troy, N.Y. -  3/2/2012

Rensselaer Professor Invited to Give Trotter Paterson Memorial Lecture

Mark Rea, professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and director of the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer, was invited to London England to deliver the Trotter Paterson Lecture. The Trotter Paterson lecture is a biennial event created in 1951 to commemorate two past Presidents of the United Kingdom Illuminating Engineering Society, Alexander Trotter and Sir Clifford Paterson. The honorific lecture is sponsored by the Society of Light and Lighting, part of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE). Rea is the first American to be so honored. 
In his lecture, Rea spoke on the history and the future of visual performance research. His lecture began with a review of the key visual performance research initiated in the United Kingdom by HC Weston and in the United States by Matthew Luckiesh, pointing out that those efforts lead to very different lighting recommendations in the two countries. Because of the energy crisis of the 1970s, regulators in the United States demanded a resolution of the discrepancy; from that controversy a model of relative visual performance (RVP) was developed by Rea and colleagues in Canada. This model helped rationalize lighting recommendations in the two countries and had a significant impact on reducing electric energy use for lighting in buildings.
Rea then discussed how visual performance research can inform the current debate over the value of illuminating roadways. Some communities are strongly in favor of roadway lighting while some are passionately against it. Recent research by Rea and collaborators at the LRC and at Pennsylvania State University has shown that the incremental improvements in visual performance provided by roadway lighting are well correlated with the incremental reductions in nighttime crashes. Through this research, the benefit/cost calculations can be determined for any local scenario where roadway lighting is being considered. Rea showed how the RVP model served as a keystone in those determinations.
You can view a copy of Rea’s Trotter Paterson presentation at
The full article, “What ever happened to visual performance?” is in press at the Lighting Research & Technology journal.
To learn more about the LRC’s transportation lighting and safety research, visit

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.