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Troy, N.Y. -  7/1/2014

Mariana Figueiro to Speak at TEDMED 2014

Mariana Figueiro, Lighting Research Center (LRC) Light and Health Program Director and Professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, will speak at TEDMED, September 12, 2014 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. During the talk, she will reveal surprising facts about the effect of light—its presence, its absence, and its patterns—on human health and wellbeing.

Humans need to be exposed to a sufficient amount of light of the right spectrum, for a sufficient amount of time, and at the right time, for the circadian system to remain synchronized with the 24-hour day. Light can be used to improve sleep, alertness, and performance, along with overall health and wellbeing among the general population, and in populations with rigorous work schedules, such as U.S. Navy submariners and NICU nurses.

One of Figueiro’s flagship projects is the 24-hour lighting scheme for elders, including those with Alzheimer’s disease. The lighting scheme delivers high circadian stimulation during the daytime and low circadian stimulation in the evening, along with nightlights designed to reduce falls. The scheme has been installed in several elder care facilities in New York State with excellent results.

Figueiro has recently been promoted from associate professor to full professor at Rensselaer. Last year, she was elected Fellow of the Illuminating Engineering Society. She is the recipient of the 2007 NYSTAR James D. Watson Award, the 2008 Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, and the 2010 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute James M. Tien ’66 Early Career Award for Faculty. She is the author of more than 60 scientific articles in her field of research, along with the AARP-sponsored publication, Lighting the Way: a Key to Independence, which provides guidelines for the design of lighting for older adults. Figueiro’s research is regularly featured in national media including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, Forbes, The Economist, Huffington Post, LD+A, Architectural Lighting and NPR.    

Her work has received funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including two R01 grants from the National Institute on Aging, and several grants from other NIH Institutes, including the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Nursing Research, and National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, along with the U.S. Special Operations Command, Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory, Office of Naval Research, Illuminating Engineering Society, U.S. Green Building Council, U.S. General Services Administration, Philips Lighting, Philips Respironics, OSRAM SYLVANIA, GE Lighting, Acuity Brands, Ketra, Seoul Semiconductors and USAI Lighting.

In 2013 Figueiro launched the Light and Health Alliance, a collaborative initiative to bridge the science of light and health to practical applications, and to provide objective information based on basic and applied research. In addition, she leads the Light and Health Institute, a two-day, hands-on seminar, to teach the many ways in which light affects, and can be used to improve, health and wellbeing. 

For more information on Figueiro’s research at Rensselaer, visit:

To learn more about TEDMED, 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.