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Troy, N.Y. -  4/16/2019

LRC to Develop New Plant Lighting Education Program With Support From the Nuckolls Fund

Numerous studies have found that humans don't eat enough healthy foods including whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. However, a recent study published in the journal PLOS One found that if everyone around the globe began to eat a healthy, plant-based diet, there would simply not be enough fruits and vegetables to feed the world. In other words, what we should be eating, and what we're producing are not aligned under the current global agriculture system.

Research from the Illumination for Plant Health (IPH) Alliance at the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has shown that “Precision Light Dosing” can be used to combat the many pests and pathogens that reduce crop yields, and to increase plant health. At the same time, due to factors such as interest in local and sustainable food, along with maturing technologies which make it financially viable, crops are increasingly being grown indoors in controlled environments. Lighting professionals are being called upon to design and develop innovative lighting systems and applications for these indoor agricultural environments. This presents exciting new challenges for lighting professionals, who must gain additional knowledge and skills to navigate and fully participate in this emerging market.
To address this need, the LRC is developing a new course curriculum on lighting for plant growth and health with support from the Nuckolls Fund for Lighting Education.
The course development team at LRC includes Professor Mark Rea, Plant Pathologist Jaimin Patel, Research Scientist Leora Radetsky, and Director of Education Dan Frering. Collaborators include Erik Runkle, a Professor of Horticulture at Michigan State University, and Plant Pathologists David Gadoury at Cornell University and Natalia Peres at the University of Florida, who are widely respected for their expertise in using UV to mitigate pathogens in fruit and vegetable crops.  
The LRC has offered the Master of Science in Lighting degree for the past 29 years. In 2004, with assistance from the Nuckolls Fund for Lighting Education, the LRC began offering the Ph.D. in Architectural Sciences with a Concentration in Lighting. This additional degree option has broadened the scope of graduate education at the LRC, allowing students to pursue more in-depth, research-based study in lighting. The LRC is part of the School of Architecture at Rensselaer, but draws students from a diverse range of backgrounds including interior design, architecture, art, theater, engineering (architectural, mechanical, electrical), physics, biology, and others areas of science. This diversity is a great strength of the program, helping to ensure a rich environment for interdisciplinary study. The new course curriculum on lighting for plant growth and health will be modular and flexible to allow it to be adapted and taught at the undergraduate, graduate, or post-professional levels, and will become a permanent, regular LRC offering.  
The Nuckolls Fund for Lighting Education
The Nuckolls Fund for Lighting Education was established in 1988 to support college-level lighting programs that enable students to learn, appreciate, and apply the basics of lighting and design. Each year, the Fund solicits proposals from colleges and universities for innovative educational ideas that will inspire students with an understanding of light in architecture. 

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.