Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
has named Professor Mariana G. Figueiro, Ph.D., as director of the Lighting Research Center
(LRC), after serving as the center’s acting director over the past year. Figueiro is assuming the directorship after Professor Mark Rea, who has served as LRC director since 1988. Professor Rea will continue as professor of architecture and cognitive sciences in the School of Architecture
“Professor Figueiro has distinguished herself as a world-renowned leader in light and health, as well as an exceptional advocate over many years for Rensselaer’s Lighting Research Center,” said Evan Douglis, dean of architecture at Rensselaer. “Given her broad achievement, which has received international acclaim, as an outstanding educator, researcher, and more recently an administrative leader, she possesses the ideal profile to excel in her new role as director of the LRC. We welcome her in this new position and look forward to her future success.”
Figueiro has been with the LRC for 21 years, where she started as a graduate student in the LRC’s M.S. in Lighting program. She continued as a staff scientist at the LRC and in 2004, obtained her Ph.D. from Rensselaer. In 2006, she was offered a tenure-track position as an assistant professor and in 2014, was promoted to full professor. She has served as LRC Light and Health Program Director since 1999.
Figueiro is among the world’s leading experts in the area of light and health, with a focus on bridging science to practical applications aimed at improving human quality of life. She has made a significant impact on this developing field and continues to actively expand her influence through translational research and teaching. Figueiro is principal investigator of various research projects within the LRC, including two R01 grants from the National Institute on Aging and one R01 grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as grants from the U.S. General Services Administration and the Office of Naval Research. She regularly collaborates with lighting industry leaders such as Acuity Brands, Cree, Current by GE, Ketra, OSRAM, Philips Lighting, and USAI Lighting.
She has brought attention to the significance of light and health as a topic of public interest through her recent TEDMED talk, among numerous other invited presentations and outreach. She is the author of more than 80 scientific articles in her field of research, and is regularly featured in national media including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Scientific American.
“I look forward to continuing to work with our partners in industry, government, and academia, and to lead the remarkably dedicated group of LRC staff and students who work tirelessly to fulfill the LRC’s mission to advance the effective use of light for society and the environment,” said Figueiro.
Over the past three decades, the LRC has grown from a 3,000-sq.-ft. office on the Rensselaer campus to a 30,000-sq.-ft. laboratory space with more than 35 full-time faculty and staff. During this time, the LRC has received more than $130 million in external research contracts and industry support.
The LRC’s growth and remarkable achievements would not have been possible without the ongoing collaborations between LRC researchers and the leading manufacturers and government agencies that comprise the LRC Partners—Current, powered by GE; the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA); OSRAM; Philips Lighting; and the Swedish Energy Agency. These collaborations are featured in a recent book about the LRC, available at http://www.lrc.rpi.edu/resources/book/LRCBook.html
These powerful collaborations have shaped our world—from improving human health and wellbeing, to enabling the broad adoption of solid-state lighting, to training the next generation of leaders in lighting. For almost 30 years, LRC researchers have been pioneering research in solid-state lighting, light and health, transportation lighting, and energy efficiency, 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. and a Ph.D. to educate future leaders in lighting.
“The LRC serves as the nucleus for independent and reliable lighting research and education in a rapidly changing business and government funding environment. There is nothing else like it anywhere in the world,” said Rea. “The future of the LRC is bright, particularly with Mariana leading.”